Ibuprofen is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), a class of drugs designed to alleviate inflammation, relieve pain, and reduce fevers. The medication is sold over the counter under various brand names, including Advil, Motrin, and Midol. When experiencing aches and pain while drunk or during a hangover, reaching for the ibuprofen may come with the risk of harmful side effects if not taken correctly.
Is it Safe to Mix Ibuprofen and Alcohol?
Mixing alcohol with prescription drugs such as the occasional ibuprofen can be dangerous because alcohol is a digestive irritant, and even one drink can accelerate acid production. When you have more significant amounts of acid in your digestive tract with less protection, you risk damaging the tissue, leading to internal bleeding, especially in older adults. Most of the time, drinking a small amount of alcohol is not harmful, but drinking too much alcohol while taking the pain medication can significantly increase the risk of severe side effects such as kidney problems.
The Risks of Consuming Ibuprofen and Drinking
When alcohol and ibuprofen are taken around the same time, even to ease a hangover, the usual risks of consuming the common pain reliever are increased significantly. Drinking moderate alcohol may lower the risks, but they are always present. If you are concerned that you may be developing an addiction to alcohol, try taking our free quiz to compare your drinking patterns to alcohol use disorder.
Below are a few of the most severe side effects of consuming painkillers like ibuprofen and alcoholic drinks:
- Gastrointestinal bleeding: This is a possible side effect that stems from long-term use of ibuprofen or overusing and taking high doses of the medication, which involves an upset stomach and bleeding inside the stomach or intestines. Symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding may include vomiting or defecating blood.
- Impaired responsiveness or decreased alertness: Ibuprofen and alcohol are both used to make you relax, which can affect your attention and alertness. This can increase the risk of slower reaction times, driving distractions, and falling asleep in dangerous situations.
- Kidney damage or liver damage: Using ibuprofen cause added stress to the kidneys or liver but will not cause long-term damage when used alone. Adding alcohol to the mix, however, can increase the adverse effects that the drug has on the kidneys. Over time, mixing the two can lead to more severe liver problems and kidney function issues, causing other significant health conditions like kidney disease or liver disease.
- Cardiovascular problems or stroke: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are linked to cardiovascular problems like issues with blood flow and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Drinking alcohol adds to these risks and makes it more difficult for the body to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, which can be lethal. Seek medical care immediately if you or a loved one begins experiencing harmful drug interactions like slurred speech, chest pains, weakness on one side of the body, and chest pains after mixing ibuprofen and an alcoholic drink.
If you have taken ibuprofen and are experiencing symptoms such as blood in vomit or stool, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, persistent stomach pains, dizziness, or fainting, seek medical care immediately. For those who struggle with alcohol addiction, plenty of treatment options may be able to help.
How to Take Medication Safely
Drugs like ibuprofen are the safest when taken for a short period since long-term ibuprofen use isn’t as safe or beneficial as other more vital medicines for pain management. For long time treatment, doctors will usually offer alternatives that are safer to take often. It is also essential to carefully read medication labels as ibuprofen is common in many headaches, colds, and prescription medicines. It is also best to avoid taking the drug for a hangover as alcohol is still present in the system, and the stomach is typically more vulnerable, which can put you at a high risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers. Remember to follow directions on the bottle carefully and seek professional medical advice before ever attempting to combine the two, even with small amounts of alcohol.
How Long After Taking Ibuprofen Can You Drink?
On average, alcohol stays in our system for about 1-3 hours, but plenty of factors play a role in how long the substance will remain in your system. For example, the more you drink, the longer the alcohol will stay in your system. An individual’s body size can also affect the period alcohol remains inside the body. It is recommended to wait at least one day after consuming alcohol to take ibuprofen. If you have consumed more significant amounts, however, you may want to stay up to 2-3 days before taking the pain reliever.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I drink alcohol after taking ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen warns users, just like with any other NSAID medication telling them that taking ibuprofen and consuming an alcoholic beverage can increase your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, which is bleeding that occurs inside of the digestive tract. The mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine are all part of the upper GI tract, while the lower consists of the large intestine and the anus. A sore on the lining of the stomach is referred to as a stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer, which can be a risk increased by combining both alcohol and prescription medication.
2. How long should I wait to drink alcohol after taking medicine?
If you are unsure about the details of any medication you take, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. While a small amount of alcohol may be okay to consume around the same time as the medication, this can depend on factors like age and overall health. Ask them when it is safe to consume alcohol again after taking ibuprofen. You may need to wait up to 72 hours (3 days) after taking the medication to have a drink.
3. Is it safe to drink alcohol after taking ibuprofen?
Generally, the two are safe to take together as long as a small number of alcoholic beverages such as a small glass of wine or a cold beer and you have a healthy liver and kidney and are a healthy person overall. However, always consult your doctor when mixing any drug with alcohol, as doing so can often have harmful side effects and increase the risk of health problems such as kidney issues, heart attacks or strokes, and gastrointestinal bleeding. This is from the ibuprofen interacting with the alcohol increasing the usual side effects of the medication like bleeding, risk of ulcers, and increased heart rate. Seek medical attention if you or a loved one is experiencing health problems from coming off alcohol and the pain medicine.
Final Thoughts From Indiana Recovery Center
If you are struggling with substance use disorder, the Indiana Recovery Center can help. We offer detox and rehab treatment programs for alcohol dependence. Our medical professionals will provide the treatment and medication you need to cope with your addiction and experience a safe and comfortable recovery. When you are ready to take the first step, contact us at (844) 650-0064.