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Can you drink alcohol while taking antibiotics?

Last Modified: April 03, 2023

Family Medicine


This post was written by Jessica Offerle, PharmD, Parkview Health.

According to a study conducted by GRAM, global antibiotic consumption rates have increased by 46% since the year 2000. These medications fight infections in people and animals, and are only completely effective when taken as prescribed. One common question around this group of drugs is: Will drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics cause a negative reaction? Like most medications, these infection-fighters can interact with other drugs and substances.

Potential side effects

Antibiotics and alcohol have the potential to cause similar side effects, including stomach upset, dizziness and drowsiness. If someone were to consume both, the risk of experiencing these side effects increases. These risks vary from mild to life-threatening, depending on the individual and amounts consumed.  

Known interactions

There are a few antibiotics that should never be mixed with any amount of alcohol, because it could result in a more severe reaction. These medications include metronidazole (FLAGYL®), tinidazole (Tindamax), and sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (BACTRIM™). By drinking any amount of alcohol with these antibiotics, a person is at increased risk for side effects such as flushing, headache, nausea and vomiting, and increased heart rate. When taken together with red wine or tap beer, linezolid (ZYVOX®) can cause a substantial increase in blood pressure, altered mental status and fever. Another side effect of alcohol and antibiotics is lowered efficacy, which is true with doxycycline. 

Alcohol and antibiotics are both metabolized by the liver, which is why consuming both, especially alcohol in excess, may also increase a patient’s risk for liver and/or kidney failure. Some over-the-counter medications, such as cough/cold medicines and mouthwashes, contain alcohol, therefore, it’s important to monitor active and inactive ingredients of these products prior to consuming alcohol or antibiotics. 

The key takeaway

Although all antibiotics do not result in severe reactions when consumed with alcohol, all have the potential to cause drowsiness and delay recovery time. It’s advised to avoid alcohol until you have completed any course of antibiotics and have completely recovered.  





The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Antibiotics - Alcohol Rehab Guide 

Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions - PMC ( 

Antibiotics and alcohol - Mayo Clinic 

Antibiotics - Interactions - NHS ( 

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