Penicillin and Alcohol

Consuming alcohol can lead to side effects that aren’t always easy to manage. While everyone should be careful when consuming alcohol, the effects become even more dangerous when you combine this substance with penicillin or other antibiotics. It can be challenging to predict what these effects will be. If any medication has been prescribed to you, it’s essential that you read the product label or patient information pamphlet to identify how the medicine should be taken.

Penicillin and Alcohol

Why You Should Avoid Mixing Alcohol with Antibiotics like Penicillin

Even though most antibiotics are outfitted with packaging that warns people not to drink alcohol with antibiotics, it’s commonly misunderstood that drinking alcohol with medications is safe. In reality, alcohol dampens the effects of antibiotics and may lead to many adverse side effects.

Once your body breaks down alcohol, a substance known as acetaldehyde is produced, which may lead to nausea. Any individual taking antibiotics to relieve stomach issues or digestive problems could experience worsening symptoms after combining alcohol and antibiotics.

This combination also creates issues with a person’s concentration, coordination, and cognitive function. If you suffer from a bacterial illness, drinking alcohol can disrupt the hydration and sleep processes that your body requires to recover effectively.

What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are potent medications that can slow down or destroy bacteria growth. This type of medication doesn’t attack infections that are caused by such viruses as the flu or a cold. Instead, antibiotics attack infections from bacterial diseases.

These medications are designed to stop antibodies from reproducing or killing any invading bacteria. Even though the white blood cells in your body are meant to eradicate harmful bacteria, these cells might not be strong enough if the amount of harmful bacteria is too high. The types of conditions that antibiotics can properly treat include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Ear infections
  • Strep throat
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Sepsis
  • Skin infections like acne

The majority of antibiotics are safe to use when taken as prescribed. However, side effects are always possible, including everything from an upset stomach to diarrhea and nausea. These effects can be strengthened if the antibiotics are taken alongside alcohol. In this scenario, some additional side effects you might experience include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Seizures

What Is Penicillin?

Penicillin is the name used for a group of drugs that are designed to attack many different types of bacteria. These antibacterial drugs are derived from the penicillium fungi and can be taken orally or through an injection.

Today, people use penicillin to treat numerous diseases and infections, which extend to ear infections, skin infections, dental infections, and respiratory tract infections.

Medications within the penicillin class indirectly burst bacterial cell walls, which helps to kill harmful bacteria. This process works by focusing on the structural elements of bacterial cells known as peptidoglycans, which form mesh-like structures in bacterial cells.

Penicillin directly blocks the proteins that link peptidoglycans together, which ensures that the bacterium cannot close off holes that develop. Water will then flow through these holes, which results in the bacterium bursting. While penicillin is a highly effective medication, this drug’s potency is why it shouldn’t be combined with alcohol.

Effects of Drinking Alcohol with Penicillin

There’s no direct drug interaction found between alcohol and penicillin. However, taking these two substances together can create problems for people suffering from an infection. When consumed, alcohol reduces your immune function, which can result in the side effects of penicillin worsening.

A few side effects that can be more severe after combining alcohol and penicillin include an upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. Make sure that you stay well hydrated to keep these effects at bay.

If you combine penicillin with alcohol, the amount of time this drug remains in the body differs with each individual. The half-life of the drug is upwards of 45 minutes for healthy individuals.

If you suffer from liver or kidney impairment, the half-life of penicillin can be as long as 30 hours. Because of this drug’s half-life will leave a healthy person’s body after 12 hours or so. It can take several days to leave the body for those with liver or kidney impairment.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol with Penicillin and Other Antibiotics

Along with worsening the medication’s side effects, taking alcohol with penicillin may also disrupt the healing process for your infection or disease. If you’re currently suffering from alcoholism, not drinking until penicillin has left your body might seem too challenging for you. If you find yourself in this situation, you should get in touch with a treatment provider to start gaining control of your life once more.

Even though the effects aren’t always severe, it’s never a good idea to drink alcohol with penicillin. If you’ve been prescribed penicillin to treat a recent infection or disease, your recovery process will be aided by not drinking alcohol until your treatment ends. Call Long Island Interventions today for more information on addiction and the most commonly used treatments.


  • Can you drink alcohol while taking Penicillin?
  • What not to take with penicillin?

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