Alcohol can create unwanted and even dangerous side effects when combined with specific prescription and over-the-counter medications. Aspirin is one commonly used medication that may interact adversely with alcohol. Aspirin is in a class of drugs known as salicylates and is used to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. Aspirin also impedes blood clotting and is commonly used to help prevent blood clots.
Aspirin can have several adverse and potentially life-threatening side effects when combined with alcohol. The potential interactions of taking aspirin with alcohol and aspirin are primarily related to the comparable actions of both substances.
Side Effects of Combining Aspirin and Alcohol
Several side effects can occur from mixing alcohol and aspirin. Alcohol on its own affects the liver adversely and increases the risk of several forms of liver disease. Aspirin on its own can result in liver damage, especially in higher amounts, and may also lead to an increased risk of bleeding. These side effects can be severe and dangerous, and in some cases, even lethal.
Increased Toxicity of Aspirin and Alcohol
The liver plays a major role in processing both aspirin and alcohol. When these substances are combined, the liver can’t process either as efficiently as it could if either were used independently. Because of this, when alcohol and aspirin are used together, the amount of each substance that remains in the blood is higher than it would be if only one were consumed.
The reduced ability of the liver to process aspirin and alcohol in combination can also result in a regular dose of aspirin to induce increased side effects and increase the risk of toxicity, which can also lead to the following:
- More alcohol from each drink being retained in the blood
- Increased risk of alcohol overdose or intoxication compared to what would otherwise be expected
- Increased risk of driving impairment as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will be higher in association with the same number of drinks
Increased Risk of Internal Bleeding
Among the potential side effects of taking aspirin is the risk of bleeding in the stomach and intestines. Using alcohol with aspirin increases this risk. This internal bleeding could be so minor that it is impossible to tell initially, but it can become life-threatening in some cases.
Increased Risk of Liver Damage
Alcohol and aspirin both put stress on the liver and can cause damage independently. Moreover, combining alcohol and aspirin increases the risk of liver damage. When these two substances are used in conjunction over a prolonged period, this damage may become irreversible and lead to other complications or even death.
How Long to Wait Being Using Aspirin After Drinking
There are no expert recommendations on exactly how long a person should wait between aspirin and alcohol intake. There are many factors at play that can affect potential interactions, such as how much of each substance is used and individual biology. However, some research has suggested it’s best to space out aspirin and alcohol consumption as much as possible to avoid alcohol poisoning.
For example, in one small study, five people who had taken 1000 mg of aspirin one hour before drinking alcohol had a much higher BAC than subjects who consumed the same amount but didn’t use aspirin. The mechanism that leads to this effect was believed to be that aspirin may increase the bioavailability of ingested ethanol in humans, possibly by reducing ethanol oxidation by gastric alcohol dehydrogenase (an enzyme).
Moreover, if you plan on drinking alcohol in the evening, take the aspirin-based medication as soon as you wake up in the morning. Doing so may reduce the risk of adverse effects, even for those taking on an extended-release formula.
How to Get Help for Alcoholism
Individuals struggling with alcohol abuse or using alcohol with medications or other substances, even when they know it could be dangerous, are urged to consider seeking professional help.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery have helped many individuals overcome alcohol addiction and cultivate new, sober lives. Our state-of-the-art facilities offer a substance-free, supportive, and state environment for those we treat.
Using a comprehensive approach, we offer residential and intensive outpatient programs comprised of a variety of therapies and enjoyable activities that include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medically-assisted detox
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Relapse prevention
- Peer support groups
- Dual diagnosis
- Mindfulness meditation
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni activities