What are the effects of drinking while on Antibiotics?

Is drinking while on antibiotics dangerous? This is a frequently asked medical question considered by many. Medical professionals and prescription medicine labels often warn against mixing alcohol with antibiotics. Interactions between the two substances can increase the risk of dangerous medical complications. Alcohol and antibiotics are substances that hinder a person’s cognitive function, concentration and coordination. When combined together, it could inhibit the effectiveness of the medication or produce negative side effects.

A glass of alcohol sits next to a pack of medication tablets represents the effects of drinking while on antibiotics.

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are antibacterial agents that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. These powerful medications work by killing all invading bacteria in the body or by stopping the antibodies from reproducing. The human body is full of bacteria. Some are beneficial and some can hinder the health of our body. Antibiotics kill everything. It kills both the good and bad bacteria.

Antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat illnesses such as strep throat, UTI, STD, bacteria phenomena, ear infections and sepsis. They are safe to use when used as recommended. However, antibiotics have their own set of unpleasant side effects. Some of the general side effects include nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, stomach pains and diarrhea. Adding excessive alcohol use can intensify these symptoms making the healing process prolonged and uncomfortable. 

What happens if I drink on Antibiotics?

For those who are on antibiotic medications, the best ways to help in the recovery of your body include getting enough rest and eating a nutritious diet to help boost your immune system to fight off the infection. Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns and stops your body from absorbing vital nutrients needed to heal. When alcohol is added to the body while it is still vulnerable and in the middle of fighting off an illness, it can often hinder the body’s ability to heal and recover fully.

The combination of alcohol and antibiotics can affect a person’s behavior, mental state of mind and even violent physical side effects. These side effects can include central nervous system functions such as increased drowsiness, sedation and confusion.

When alcohol is consumed and begins to break down in the body, it produces a chemical called acetaldehyde. This chemical can cause damage to your DNA preventing your body from repairing damage. So naturally, the body will work to purge this toxic chemical. This often leads to feelings of nausea as the body is trying to remove the chemical from the body. This is referred to as a Disulfiram reaction. And it is common when alcohol interacts with the antimicrobial medicine metronidazole. A common side effect of many antibiotics is nausea. Mixing the two drugs only amplifies the feelings of nausea, upset stomach and vomiting.

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Interactions between Alcohol and commonly prescribed Antibiotics

  • Doxycycline – When taken with alcohol, doxycycline can reduce the effects of the medication and hinder the body’s ability to heal.
  • Minocycline – When taken with alcohol, minocycline can increase the risk of liver disease and cause intense symptoms of vomiting and nausea.
  • Linezolid – When taken with alcohol, linezolid can cause fever, altered mental status, elevated blood pressure, liver damage, seizure and cardiac arrest.
  • Ciprofloxacin – When taken with alcohol, ciprofloxacin can cause disorientation, memory loss, disturbance in attention and overall confusion.
  • Metronidazole, Tinidazole, and Cefoperazone – Drinking alcohol with these two types of antibiotics can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat and stomach cramps.
  • Isoniazid – When mixed with alcohol, isoniazid can cause severe liver damage. Isoniazid is broken down in the liver. Excessive alcohol consumption causes liver damage. When both substances overburden the liver, it can lead to a build-up of dangerous toxins. 
  • Oxazolidones – Side effects of mixing this medication with alcohol can range from mild to severe. Oxazolidones is usually prescribed for abdominal, skin, lung and UTI infections. The side effects can include fever, rapid breathing, high blood pressure, respiratory depression, and an altered state of mind.
  • Fluoroquinolones – with alcohol can cause a host of mental health side effects including disorientation, agitation, nervousness, memory loss and confusion

Drinking alcohol such as beer, wine or liquor while you are trying to fight off an infection won’t necessarily inhibit the effectiveness of your medication. However, it will disrupt the healing process. It can lead to dehydration, muscle weakness, upset stomach and a weakened immune system. Adding alcohol can cause the body to work twice as hard to try to heal itself. This puts more pressure and strain on a body that has already been compromised.

Another important side effect to consider is alcohol’s effect on the function of the antibiotic. In some cases, dependent on which antibiotic, alcohol can alter the way an antibiotic is supposed to perform and lead to a build-up of the medication in the body. This can be toxic and dangerous.

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.


The combination of antibiotics and alcohol can be risky for those with an alcohol use disorder. Long-term alcohol use weakens your immune system and increases the risk of developing infections requiring antibiotics. It ultimately produces an endless cycle and the inability to fully heal from illnesses and infections that affect a person’s health and well-being.

Hotel California by the Sea offers a premiere alcohol rehab program for those suffering from alcoholism and addiction. Alcohol abuse can lead to a compromised immune system and high risks for serious infections. When antibiotics are added to the body on top of excessive alcohol use, it can result in a variety of negative side effects and the inability of the body to fully heal.

The alcohol use disorder program at Hotel California by the Sea offers a full continuum of treatment care. Alcohol detox, residential treatment and outpatient treatments provide a range of intensive and flexible care. Unique services such as career resource assistance, sober living assistance and family social services are also available. A well-rounded treatment addressing every aspect of alcohol addiction will lead to a greater chance of long-term recovery. Hotel California by the Sea provides the tools and resources patients need to build a solid foundation for a healthier future.