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Alcohol And Pain Medication

Alcohol can have serious side effects on its own but when mixed with prescription painkillers, the effects can be lethal. There are many different types of painkillers available to those who suffer from chronic pain, but a good rule of thumb is to not consume alcohol while taking certain types of painkillers. Alcohol and pills can be a dangerous combination. Be sure to always take pain medications in the suggested dosage and always read the label on your pain relief medicine. Even if there is no warning on the label about mixing with alcohol, you should avoid drinking more than 4 to 5 drinks a day.


People who suffer from chronic pain may frequently experience sleepless nights, difficulty falling asleep, and difficulty staying asleep because of their pain. A common assumption is that alcohol can ease pains. A study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates that 28% of chronic pain sufferers self-medicate with alcohol. However, drinking less or no alcohol actually can improve your quality of life.

Chronic pain is generally defined as pain that lasts longer than three months, and oftentimes, the severity of the pain increases over time. If a patient turns to alcohol for comfort and relief, he or she may use more alcohol over time to have an effect. Tolerance can build, which can progress towards alcoholism.

Using alcohol and pain medicine together can have devastating side effects. Not only are you at an increased risk for overdosing, mixing pain medication and alcohol can depress your central nervous system severely. Aggression, lapses in judgment, and physical side effects such as dizziness, heartbeat alterations, unconsciousness and more can result from mixing pain medications and alcohol.


If it’s dangerous to turn to self-medication and alcohol, what options are available for those who suffer from chronic pain? While there is no single cure for managing chronic pain or neuropathic pain, there are several ways to treat and manage it. 

Your doctor will work with you to develop a comprehensive plan instead of relying solely on medications. Lifestyle changes, self-management skills, and therapy will likely be included in your pain management plan to help you maintain typical capabilities and improve your quality of life. Before introducing alcohol into your lifestyle, consult with your doctor as the pain relief medications may negatively interact with alcohol. In some cases, alcohol can decrease their effectiveness and render them useless, toxic, or harmful to your body. If you’re not sure if a medication can be combined with alcohol, avoid consuming alcohol until you can speak to your doctor or pharmacist. 

Chronic pain can negatively impact your quality of life. Many patients turn to alcohol in the hopes of finding comfort and relief from their symptoms. However, the use of alcohol can worsen symptoms over time in addition to developing a tolerance. Instead of using alcohol, speak to your doctor today about putting together a holistic pain management plan. Finding the right treatment for you can take time, but your doctor will work with you to find comfort from pain.

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