Health

What Happens if You Take Antibiotics With Alcohol?

Published On 09/23/2015 Published On 09/23/2015
cocktails and pills
Shutterstock/ Jennifer Bui/Thrillist

You know how your doctor's all, "Don't drink while you're on this medication I just prescribed you!" and you're all, "What? Don't be such a buzzkill, Dr. Loser!" and then you go pound three Mike's Hard Lemonades at your friend's party? Well, turns out that might not be such a good idea. To find out the dangers involved in consuming alcohol whilst on antibiotics, we consulted with Dr. Ana Blohm from Sherpaa.

[Editor's Note: We asked Dr. Blohm what happens to your body in the context of having a few drinks while you're taking antibiotics -- not drinking so much you toss your cookies and the antibiotics you were prescribed, which is a different scenario entirely.]

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The drugs you're taking might not work

Because every person reading this is a beautiful snowflake (i.e. our bodies are all different), the effects antibiotics will have on you when you're boozing depend entirely on the antibiotic and how much you drink regularly. But generally, Dr. Blohm says that when medication and booze combine, it can interact and cause "unwanted complications."

One complication is that it makes "the antibiotics less effective in treating the infection it was intended to treat." So while booze might make you forget you have chlamydia, it might also reduce your chances of the medicine getting rid of it.
 

Or you could develop a superbug, which is as scary as it sounds

An even scarier complication is the fact that "exposure to sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotic can cause the development of resistant microbial strains over time." Why is that so scary? Enter: superbugs, which are bacteria unaffected by antibiotics. Superbugs are not a good look. If you never want to sleep again, read up on the havoc they can cause.
 

Oh, and you could die

Dr. Blohm says "it's pretty unlikely" you kick the bucket, but it's a possibility. "Drug interactions can be very dangerous and cause a host of problems," she said. "It isn't worth messing around with." She makes a very good point, adding, "Since antibiotics are nearly always prescribed for limited periods, it shouldn't be so hard to take a break from drinking."

So if you're on a 'scrip, play it smart, just skip the booze, and limit your questionably healthy overindulgences to five cheeseburgers a day until you're back in fighting shape.

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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and is afraid to combine vitamins with booze. Follow him to healthy life choices at: @LeeBreslouer.

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