When taking certain medications, whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter, it’s essential to know the risks, side effects, and potential interactions with other drugs or alcohol. Many medications do have interactions with alcohol or are generally unsafe to combine with drinking.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s best to avoid mixing alcohol with antiviral drugs. While they are no specific warnings included in the labels of these products, alcohol can compromise the effectiveness of some medications. It can also increase the risk of side effects, including dizziness, with older adults being the most susceptible.
What Is Valtrex?
Valtrex (valacyclovir) is an oral antiviral prescription drug that is used to treat shingles and the herpes virus, genital herpes, and cold sores. Valtrex is not a cure for herpes, though it does effectively reduce symptoms by impeding its spread and growth.
Valtrex also helps a person’s immune system in its fight against the infection and reduces the frequency of outbreaks. When someone uses Valtrex, it can promote the healing of cold sores and genital warts and prevent new ones from developing. It can also relieve pain and itching often associated with skin lesions.
People using Valtrex should be warned that it will not prevent herpes from spreading to another individual. It can be transmitted even when a person is asymptomatic.
Valtrex Side Effects
Side effects of Valtrex can include the following:
- Stomach pain
Less common side effects include the following:
- Mood swings
- Changes in urination
- Trouble speaking
Rarely, Valtrex can cause a condition that affects the blood cells and kidneys, which can be lethal. This disorder is more likely to occur in people who have a weakened immune system, perhaps as a result of a kidney transplant or HIV.
Valtrex and Alcohol: Other Factors to Consider
It may be relatively safe to combine Valtrex and alcohol when a person is drinking in moderation. However, you should always consult your health provider before combining Valtrex with alcohol or any other medications or drugs.
There are also other significant factors to consider before combining Valtrex and alcohol. For one, Valtrex can cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting, which are relatively common. If you use Valtrex with alcohol, it can make side effects worse. For example, a person may be more likely to experience nausea than he or she would if Valtrex was being used on its own.
As noted, there is a chance for side effects such as dizziness with the use of Valtrex. Alcohol use can also cause dizziness, so consuming it while using Valtrex can cause this side effect to be more intense. For this reason, people who use these two substances should probably avoid certain activities while doing so.
A Word on Shingles
If a person is using Valtrex for the treatment of shingles, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether. Shingles is an infection that is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a band of blisters or lesions that wraps around a person’s torso.
Unfortunately, the pain caused by shingles can be excruciating. Regular alcohol can compromise a person’s immune system and also reduce the effectiveness of medication. As with any viral infection, the immune system should ideally be operating at peak efficiency, and when alcohol is being consumed, this may not be possible.
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
There are no specific warnings against the use of alcohol with Valtrex, but it is probably best to avoid drinking while using this medication. If you have been prescribed Valtrex and have been unable to refrain from alcohol consumption, it may be time to seek professional treatment for alcohol use disorder or alcoholism.
Harmony Treatment and Wellness is a family-oriented team of highly-skilled professionals who provide individuals with the treatment and support they need to recover from substance abuse. Our caring staff specializes in customized, evidence-based treatment that is intended to offer our clients the best chances for success in the sustainment of long-term sobriety and wellness.
We offer comprehensive programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Therapeutic services that we provide include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual and family counseling
- Peer support groups
- Music and art therapy
- Adventure therapy
- Health and wellness programs
- Substance abuse education
- Aftercare planning
We understand there is still a stigma that surrounds substance abuse. Modern addiction treatment is based on the disease model, and no longer focuses on an individual’s so-called moral failings or lack of willpower. This fact is important to stress because many people are reluctant to enter treatment, in fear that they will be judged, stigmatized, or shamed in some way.
We sincerely want to help those who need it most by giving them the tools and support they need to recover and reclaim the happy and healthy lives they deserve. If you or a loved one is struggling to quit using substances, contact us today to discuss treatment and learn how we can help!