Combining prednisone and alcohol can increase the risk of numerous complications. Although prednisone may provide health benefits when taken as directed, when mixed with alcohol, an individual may be at risk of encountering severe health repercussions. When used in conjunction, these two substances can impair a person’s immune system and place them at a higher risk for osteoporosis and other health issues.
People who are using prednisone for chronic conditions may incur more inadvertently worsen those conditions when they consume alcohol. Even occasional episodes of alcohol abuse have the potential to cause serious problems for an individual who is also using prednisone.
What Is Prednisone?
Prednisone is a corticosteroid that comes in a variety of forms, including tablet and liquid. Prednisone works to combat inflammation and allergic reactions, such as itching, redness, and swelling. It also suppresses the immune system, and by doing so, is used as a treatment for autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Prednisone can also be prescribed to those who have lower-than-normal levels of steroids in their body.
Due to these many applications, prednisone may be employed to treat a variety of health conditions. Other examples of conditions that may be treated with prednisone include the following:
- Adrenal issues
- Bone marrow ailments
- Endocrine issues
- Kidney conditions
- Multiple sclerosis
- Severe allergic reactions
- Skin conditions
- Cancer symptoms
- Ulcerative colitis
Beyond chemical interactions, alcohol abuse can also result in a person neglecting self-care, which may be vital in managing chronic conditions such as those above. Individually, each of these substances has risks and side effects. Combining them can put even more stress on a person’s body, and in some instances, new health problems may emerge.
Risks and Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse can range from occasional episodes of binge drinking to the daily drinking patterns that typify alcoholism. Nevertheless, all forms of alcohol abuse can jeopardize a person’s health, and high levels of consumption, especially over the long term, are even more hazardous.
Potential short-term effects of drinking include blurred vision, slurred speech, dizziness, impaired motor skills, and nausea and vomiting. Complications of an alcohol use disorder may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Heart problems
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Increased cancer risk
- Liver conditions
- Weakened immune system
Some health complications, such as heart problems, can occur from just one night of binge drinking or after extended use. Long-term drinking increases the risk of a person developing this or other severe alcohol-related health conditions.
Side Effects and Risks of Prednisone
Although prednisone can help an individual manage their chronic health problems, this medication can also produce various side effects, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Bulging eyes
- Extreme mood swing
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Changes in personality
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen face and extremities
- Difficulty breathing
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Vision impairments
When used in conjunction with alcohol, there is the potential that some of these side effects and the risks of either substance could be exacerbated.
Hazards of Combining Prednisone and Alcohol
Both prednisone and heavy alcohol use have been found to increase the risk of many health problems. Although using either of these alone or in combination in no way ensures that an individual will encounter these or other issues, the risk is most definitely increase.
Drinking alcohol while using prednisone may increase the risk that an individual will encounter the following:
Depression has been associated with alcohol abuse and the use of prednisone. If a person experiences depression as a side effect of one substance, the severity of the depression may be compounded by the use of the other.
Chronic steroid use has been associated with an increase in blood sugar levels and a risk of diabetes caused by steroids. By itself, alcohol abuse can result in blood sugar levels becoming volatile and is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. As such, drinking alcohol while using prednisone could potentially lead to severe blood sugar issues, including diabetes.
Both alcohol and prednisone use can cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Using these substances in combination could, therefore, increase this risk. What’s more, the stress in the digestive system caused by either or both substance has been associated with the development of peptic ulcers.
Prednisone comes with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Heavy alcohol use can destabilize the nutrients in a person’s body, dramatically affecting bone health. Heavy, chronic alcohol abuse has also been associated with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Drinking alcohol while using prednisone greatly increases this risk.
Compromised Immune System
Both prednisone and alcohol suppress the immune system and cause impaired functioning. Mixing the two can profoundly exacerbate this effect. Immune system suppression is generally a desired effect of prednisone for people who suffer from autoimmune diseases. However, if the immune system becomes too weak, an individual may be more susceptible to illness and disease.
In addition to these risks, alcohol abuse could cause a person to neglect to use necessary medications. Furthermore, they may ignore other aspects of self-care that are essential in the management of their health condition.
Alcohol Abuse Can Interfere with Medication Use
The adverse effects of alcoholism can make it challenging for an individual to adhere to a therapeutic routine for their medication. Even sporadic alcohol abuse can result in a person missing a dose. However, those struggling with alcohol dependency tend to neglect to take their medication more often.
Conversely, some people who desire a drink may intentionally skip a dose of prednisone, or cease taking it entirely, to avoid chemical interactions. And, if an individual abruptly quits taking this medication, they could experience an extreme reaction.
Moreover, a person’s system could fail to function correctly due to an absence of naturally occurring steroids. Some people may even experience withdrawal symptoms, such as the following:
- Body and joint aches
- Severe fatigue
- Loss of appetite
Alcohol can cause dysregulation of a person’s mood. Depression, for example, can lead to a reduction in a person’s sense of self-worth, and they may not take care of themselves as well. This can further lead a person to skip or stop taking their medication, either because they are apathetic or because they have forgotten due to being distracted by low mood.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
If alcohol use is hindering a person’s ability to take care of themselves or putting them at a higher risk of damage to their health, it’s time to seek help. The most effective treatment programs teach a person how to engage in self-care, even when confronted with a chronic illness. By learning coping skills and gaining insight through psychotherapy sessions, an individual is better equipped to surmount the unique challenges that they face.
Harmony Treatment and Wellness provides clients with the tools, support, and everything they need to recover fully and experience long-lasting health and wellness. Our compassionate staff members are dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive the most effective treatment available.
If you or your loved one are ready to break free from alcohol addiction, contact us today—we can help!