Naproxen and Alcohol, what are the risks?
Written by: Hussain Abdeh MPharm: 2211840
Published on: 09/05/2021
Updated on: 28/05/2021
Naproxen tablets belongs to the Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs class, commonly known as NSAID’s. It is one of the most prescribed pain relief medicines in the UK, primarily used to treat pain and inflammation in muscles and joints.
It is typically prescribed to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Gout, however; it is not limited to those conditions and is also commonly used for the treatment of period pain, back pain and everyday aches and pains.
In this guide, our Superintendent Pharmacist Hussain Abdeh; will be detailing the risks of drinking alcohol when taking Naproxen, the risks involved with mixing the two and what you should know if you are planning on drinking alcohol whist using Naproxen.
Can you drink Alcohol with Naproxen?
Drinking alcohol in moderation whilst taking Naproxen is usually fine and will not present any harmful effects. However, some serious side effects from mixing the two can arise, particularly if the alcohol consumption is quite large and above the recommended daily intake.
Before mixing the two, it is recommended to familiarise yourself with the recommended daily alcohol intake to ensure that you can stay within this threshold.
As with all medicines, naproxen can cause certain side effects, the risk of suffering from those side effects is increased when drinking alcohol. Not only can drinking alcohol increase the risk of experiencing several side effects, but it can also increase the severity of those side effects particularly if Naproxen and Alcohol are consumed over a longer timeframe.
What are the risks of mixing alcohol with Naproxen?
NSAID’s such as Naproxen may cause a variety of gastrointestinal side effects such as stomach ulcers, bleeding of the stomach, acid reflux and stomach irritation. In more severe cases, Naproxen may cause erosion of the stomach lining without any warning signs or symptoms, although; the risk of this is higher in individuals that have used Naproxen for a longer period.
Gastrointestinal side effects may be higher for people of old age, have poor health, have previously suffered with a stomach ulcer or who drink more than 3 alcoholic drinks daily whilst taking naproxen.
Alcohol has also been shown to irritate the stomach and can increase the likelihood of developing gastritis and stomach bleeding. By drinking alcohol and taking naproxen there is a massive increase of developing gastritis and stomach related problems, especially if you are drinking more alcohol than the recommended daily intake and not taking naproxen as prescribed by your doctor.
Alcohol is a known to trigger some forms of arthritis such as Psoriatic Arthritis. If you are using Naproxen to help manage arthritis symptoms, alcohol intake may completely counteract the effectiveness of Naproxen at helping with the pain and inflammation of your arthritis.
The dose of naproxen you are prescribed may also play a part in experiencing side effects when consumed alongside alcohol. For example, naproxen 500mg tablets are more likely to increase the risk of experiencing side effects when compared to naproxen 250mg tablets.
Alcohol and Naproxen side effects
Whilst taking naproxen with alcohol is generally considered safe, it is important to understand what side affects you may experience so you can act right away.
If you mix Naproxen and Alcohol, you may experience the following side effects:
- Acid Reflux
- Stomach bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood in stools or very dark coloured stools
The above side effects are on top of the other possible side effects that you may experience when taking naproxen. You can find more information in our guide on Naproxen side effects.
Minimising the risks of Naproxen and Alcohol
You can minimise your risks of experiencing side effects from taking Naproxen by:
- Take naproxen exactly as prescribed by your doctor – Increasing your dose or taking Naproxen for longer than recommended can increase your risk of developing gastrointestinal related side effects. Long term use of naproxen can be damaging to the stomach lining.
- Sticking to the recommended daily alcohol intake – Consuming more than the recommended daily intake of alcohol, increases your risk of developing stomach related issues. Both Naproxen and Alcohol alone can cause stomach and gastrointestinal side effects, taking them both at the same time increases that risk.
- Do not use Naproxen with any other type of NSAID such as Ibuprofen – Using another NSAID along with Naproxen can increase your risk of experiencing side effects. Combining two different types of NSAID’s is equivalent to taking too much Naproxen and going over your recommended daily dose. Read our guide to find out more about taking Naproxen, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol.
- Taking a PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) such as Omeprazole to product the lining of the stomach – PPI’s are typically prescribed along with NSAID’s to protect the lining of the stomach from damage caused by a number of NSAID’s.
How long after taking Naproxen Can I drink Alcohol?
Whilst drinking alcohol in moderation with naproxen is generally considered to be safe, as an extra precaution; users should wait 12 to 17 hours after taking Naproxen before drinking alcohol.
This is because Naproxen has a half-life of 12 to 17 hours. A half life means the time it takes for the body to remove half of the active substance of a drug from your body, meaning that alcohol can be consumed as normal after this time.
It is also worth noting that the half life timeline may change based on the dose of naproxen that you have been prescribed.
Drinking alcohol whilst taking naproxen is generally considered to be safe, however it should be done so in moderation.
Drinking alcohol whilst taking any type of medicine can cause adverse side effects. In this instance, both Naproxen and Alcohol can cause a wide range of gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, acid reflux and in more severe cases damage to the stomach lining. Using both at the same time is essentially adding to that risk of developing stomach related side effects.
It is highly recommended to stick to the recommended daily alcohol intake as well as taking Naproxen exactly as prescribed by your doctor for the duration intended.
To further reduce the side effects of alcohol and naproxen, extra precaution can be taken with the use of acid reflux specific medicine such as Omeprazole, to protect the stomach.
Our guide to Naproxen includes helpful information regarding what it is and what it is used to treat.