Mixing Prednisone With Alcohol—The Dangers

several prescription drugs spilled from a fallen bottle near glass of alcohol.

Do you know what could happen if you drink alcohol while using prednisone? There’s no telling what could happen if you mix prescription drugs with other substances, especially alcohol. 

Prednisone is no different. It’s a powerful steroid with positive and negative effects on your health. Like many drugs, it interacts with other substances.  

Prednisone treats a variety of conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma and other severe allergies
  • Autoimmune disorders like lupus

We’ve all heard of steroids, but this one isn’t like the one athletes typically abuse.

At least 1 out of 5 Americans take steroids like prednisone. Fortunately, prednisone isn’t addictive, so it’s not likely to be abused. However, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to take with alcohol or drugs.

Should You Mix Prednisone with Alcohol?

If you’re taking prednisone, you might be wondering if it’s safe to drink alcohol with it.

It is not safe to drink alcohol while taking prednisone. Drinking too much while on prednisone can cause severe health effects.

People with alcohol use disorder (AUD) should be careful when using prednisone. At worst, the side effects can be life-threatening.

Everyone’s health is different, so alcohol with prednisone might impact your well-being in ways you wouldn’t expect.

Your doctor will tell you that you should limit alcohol on prednisone. 

Make a point to be honest about your drinking habits with your doctor. If you’re worried that you can’t keep it under control, you might put yourself at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be life-threatening when severe. 

It’s best to know the dangers of mixing this drug with alcohol before you even get a chance to face the risks. Here’s what you should know about prednisone and alcohol: 

How Do Prednisone and Alcohol Interact?

To draw the line between safety and danger, you have to understand how prednisone works.

Unlike other steroids, prednisone is also a hormone. It mimics a natural hormone that comes from the adrenal gland.

When you take prednisone, your body makes the hormone cortisol, which responds to inflammation. Think of it as one of your body’s first lines of defense when you get an injury or infection.

Prednisone also suppresses the immune system. This is great for people with immunity abnormalities like lupus and Crohn’s disease.

But too much of anything is dangerous. Extra cortisol in the body increases the risks of side effects from alcohol. Lowering your immune system’s effects puts you at risk for damage from alcohol, too. Taking prednisone with alcohol is no joke.

Using prednisone and alcohol together can lead to the following side effects:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Dangerously high blood sugar from excess cortisol
  • Ulcers, stomach upsets, and other digestive problems

Alcohol is known for changing the side effects of other drugs. It has a long list of interactions with many prescription drugs, including prednisone. It can make the effects of prednisone more unpredictable.

Drinking can bring about side effects you never experienced while taking prednisone before. For instance, drinking can cause stomach bleeding, and so can prednisone. Together, you’re much more likely to experience that side effect. 

Additionally, mixing these two substances can make their separate side effects worse.

What Happens When You Mix Prednisone and Alcohol?

Alcohol shares a few side effects with prednisone. Taking these two drugs together can leave you with lasting health conditions.

Most commonly, alcohol irritates your digestive tract. Drinking can make you feel sick and throw up because of damage to your stomach lining. People who use prednisone experience the same stomach irritation. This is why it’s best to take it on a full stomach.

When you drink while taking this medicine, you could end up with gastrointestinal bleeding. A severe case can even land you in a hospital.

Alcohol also affects your immune system. Drinking too much can weaken your body’s ability to protect itself.

This is true even after one night of drinking. Your body won’t be able to defend against infections and diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Drinking too much can dangerously raise your blood sugar, especially if you’re already borderline diabetic. Prednisone does the same from producing more cortisol in your body.

Putting the two substances together can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. 

These effects are a good reason to avoid alcohol while you’re on treatment. Call your doctor if you’re having side effects or interactions from prednisone. These interactions can be serious. 

Can You Die From Mixing Prednisone and Alcohol?

Using prednisone and alcohol isn’t likely to kill you in the short term, as in, you won’t overdose on it. But you can die from the organ damage caused by heavy alcohol and prednisone use. 

That’s why it’s very important to limit drinking while on prednisone. For some people, the doctor will recommend no alcohol at all. 

Several conditions are related to using prednisone and drinking, and they go beyond simple discomfort.

Some of these include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver damage and failure 
  • Osteoporosis

If you run into any trouble after mixing prednisone and alcohol, get in touch with your doctor right away.

What might seem like simple side effects can become extreme health risks.

Even if you have side effects, never stop taking prednisone without your doctor’s help. If you’ve been using it for more than 3 weeks, you probably have a dependency on it.

Because prednisone adds more cortisol to your body, you’ll stop making the standard amount on your own. Your body will need time to go back to making its own cortisol.

If you don’t taper off of prednisone properly, you can run into the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Body aches
  • Joint pain
  • Extreme fatigue

These symptoms can last for months, depending on how long you’ve been taking prednisone.

Replacing it with another substance like alcohol won’t make them go away. Don’t use drinking as a way to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

You’ll be dealing with weakened immunity, and it’ll put you in danger of alcohol abuse.

Should You Stop Drinking Alcohol While Using Prednisone?

If you can control your alcohol intake, having an occasional drink while on prednisone may be allowed. 

But it’s entirely different if you’re prone to binge drinking or if you have AUD. Most people on prednisone should avoid drinking.

Skipping alcohol at a dinner party can save you a lot of trouble, especially if you’re already sensitive to prescription drugs.

Under no circumstances should you stop following your prednisone prescription to drink. By doing this, you lessen how effective the drug is for you. You may also cause your body problems with cortisol production. 

Are you having a hard time abstaining from alcohol? You may be suffering from AUD, and it could be jeopardizing your treatment.

Get Help for Alcohol Use Disorder Today

If you’re struggling with quitting alcohol to get prednisone treatment, you’re not alone. Having AUD can make treatments for other conditions incredibly complicated.

At worse, AUD can even make you prioritize drinking over medicines that are important for your health. Take your AUD seriously today and begin a better, healthier life.

Springhill Recovery Center offers a variety of programs for alcohol addiction, such as:

  • Outpatient or inpatient treatment, depending on how much medical support you need 
  • Medication-assisted treatment to help lessen withdrawal symptoms 
  • Counseling and 12-Step support groups for social and emotional support in recovery 

Contact Springhill Recovery Center today. We’ll help build a custom treatment plan that takes your substance use disorder and your need to use prednisone into account. Alcohol abuse doesn’t have to control your health!

Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team

Edited on: March 18, 2023

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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