Accutane (Isotretinoin) and Alcohol Interaction: Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol while on Accutane?
Author: Thomas Roth
Last Updated: 6/05/2023
Accutane is a widely prescribed medication for severe and persistent acne. The drug works by shrinking the oil glands in the skin, thereby reducing the amount of oil produced. It’s primarily used when other treatments such as antibiotics or topical creams have failed. Accutane can have several effects on the body, and as a potent medication, its interaction with alcohol deserves careful consideration.
Accutane affects the skin and liver, leading to a number of interactions with alcohol. It’s advisable to limit or abstain from alcohol while undergoing treatment with Accutane. Consult your doctor about the implications of combining Accutane and alcohol.
What is Accutane?
Accutane, also known by its generic name isotretinoin, is a powerful medication used for the treatment of severe acne that has not responded to other forms of therapy such as antibiotics. It’s a type of drug called a retinoid, which is derived from Vitamin A. Isotretinoin works by reducing the production of the skin’s oil (sebum) that can lead to severe acne when produced in excess. It also assists in skin cell turnover, which helps prevent clogged pores, reducing inflammation and acne breakout.
Despite its effectiveness, Accutane is associated with serious side effects and is used as a last resort in severe cases. It can cause severe birth defects if taken during pregnancy and has been linked to psychiatric disorders, though a definitive causal relationship has not been established. Therefore, it’s critical for patients taking Accutane to be under the careful supervision of their healthcare provider.
Due to these risks, the distribution of isotretinoin in the U.S. is controlled through a Food and Drug Administration program called iPLEDGE, which ensures that patients understand the risks and agree to specific precautions to prevent pregnancy while on the medication.
What are the Side Effects of Accutane?
Accutane (isotretinoin) can cause several side effects. Some are quite common and relatively mild, while others are serious and potentially life-threatening. We’ll take you through a few of the common and severe side effects of Accutane.
Common Side Effects of Accutane
Accutane has a few side effects that many people will experience. These are common effects and they’re not life-threatening or severe. We list these side effects below.
- Dry skin and lips: This is a very common side effect. Your doctor can recommend creams and lip balms to help alleviate these symptoms.
- Sensitivity to the sun: Accutane can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. It’s important to use sunblock and limit your exposure to the sun.
- Increased blood triglycerides and cholesterol: Regular blood tests are usually conducted to monitor these changes.
- Dry eyes and nose: This can result in nosebleeds and difficulties wearing contact lenses.
- Joint and muscle pain: Accutane may cause discomfort in the joints and muscles, especially with physical activity.
These side effects may come and go during treatment. In some cases, you may have them throughout your treatment.
Serious Side Effects of Accutane
Accutane may have some serious side effects. These side effects may be life-threatening and it’s important to reach out to your doctor if you begin to experience them. We list the serious side effects of Accutane below.
- Birth defects: Accutane can cause severe, life-threatening birth defects. Women of childbearing age must use two forms of birth control and undergo pregnancy tests before, during, and after treatment.
- Mental health problems: Accutane may increase the risk of depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health problems. Patients experiencing new or worsening mood symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
- Severe stomach or bowel (intestinal) symptoms: Accutane can cause inflammation of the digestive tract in some cases, resulting in severe pain in the chest or abdomen, difficulty swallowing, bloody stools, or severe diarrhea.
- Liver damage: Although rare, Accutane can cause liver damage, symptoms of which include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
- Severe skin reactions: In some cases, Accutane can cause severe skin reactions, which may need to be treated in a hospital.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice any other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. It’s crucial that anyone taking Accutane is closely monitored by their healthcare provider to ensure their safety and health.
Is Accutane Still Available in the United States?
No, Accutane is no longer available in the United States. The brand has been discontinued. However, other brands of the medication isotretinoin are available in the United States. These brand names vary and new medications enter the market each year. Always consult with your doctor if you’re unsure about a specific brand.
What are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Accutane?
Mixing Accutane and alcohol can lead to various outcomes. The impacts range from mild to serious and can compromise the effectiveness of the medication. Below are some potential risks associated with consuming alcohol while taking Accutane.
- Liver damage
- Prolonged healing
- Increased side effects
- Potential birth defects
Accutane is metabolized in the liver, which means consuming alcohol while on the medication can lead to increased liver strain. Drinking excessively while on Accutane can increase the risk of liver damage, leading to elevated liver enzyme levels. If unchecked, this could result in more severe liver conditions. The stress on your liver from drinking alcohol and taking Accutane increases the risk of conditions like liver failure. Fatty liver and other types of liver disease are also possible when consuming alcohol in large quantities.
Both Accutane and alcohol can cause dehydration. Accutane naturally dries up the skin, and consuming alcohol exacerbates this effect. Prolonged dehydration can lead to more severe skin issues and can impact the effectiveness of the medication. Dehydration is also bad for your general health. People who are dehydrated have an increased risk of developing kidney stones and other kidney-related problems. In fact, mixing alcohol and Accutane may damage the kidneys along with the liver.
Accutane slows down the skin’s healing process. Alcohol, on the other hand, can increase inflammation and delay healing even further. This means that skin conditions could potentially worsen when alcohol is consumed while on Accutane. When you mix Accutane and alcohol the risk of scarring also increases. People may have more acne scars if they drink alcohol with Accutane.
Increased Side Effects
Alcohol can enhance some of the side effects of Accutane, such as dry skin, dry lips, and potentially mood changes. Drinking alcohol while on Accutane can also lead to severe hangovers due to the dehydrating effects of both substances. It’s best to avoid alcohol and Accutane, especially if you’re experiencing these side effects when you take Accutane.
Potential Birth Defects
Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not take Accutane due to the high risk of severe birth defects. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy also poses serious risks to the developing fetus. Therefore, the combination of Accutane and alcohol during pregnancy is strongly discouraged.
Does Accutane Affect the Taste of Alcohol?
Accutane doesn’t alter the taste of alcohol. However, because Accutane can cause dryness of the mouth and lips, some individuals might perceive the taste of alcoholic beverages differently while on the medication.
Does Accutane Affect the Effect of Alcohol?
Accutane doesn’t necessarily increase the intoxicating effects of alcohol, but it does put additional stress on the liver, potentially leading to increased liver enzyme levels. In this regard, alcohol consumption might feel more impactful to the body, leading to more severe hangovers. Overall, you won’t feel more intoxicated if you mix alcohol and Accutane.
Can Mixture of Alcohol and Accutane Lead to Death?
There’s no direct link between combining Accutane and alcohol and death. However, excessive alcohol consumption while on Accutane can lead to serious liver damage, and in extreme cases, this could be life-threatening. Someone who abuses alcohol and Accutane increases their overall risk of death. Therefore, make sure you limit alcohol consumption during the course of Accutane treatment to avoid liver damage.
Who Should Not Drink Alcohol While on Accutane?
Those with pre-existing liver conditions or high liver enzyme levels should avoid alcohol while taking Accutane. Additionally, anyone prone to dehydration or experiencing severe dryness as a side effect of Accutane should limit alcohol intake. Still, it’s not a good idea for anyone to mix alcohol and Accutane. The mixture of Accutane and alcohol will strain your liver and the potential for permanent scarring from impaired skin healing is also a risk. Also, children under the age of 12 should never consume alcohol or mix Accurate with alcohol.
Can I Take Accutane with Alcohol While Pregnant?
Accutane should not be used during pregnancy due to the high risk of severe birth defects. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy also poses significant risks to the developing fetus. Therefore, combining Accutane and alcohol during pregnancy is highly advised against. You should never drink alcohol during pregnancy and it’s never a good idea to mix alcohol with other medications during pregnancy.
Can You Use Accutane for Alcohol Withdrawal?
Accutane is not used for alcohol withdrawal. Its function is primarily related to the treatment of severe acne and not associated with alcohol dependence or withdrawal symptoms. Individuals struggling with alcohol withdrawal should consult with healthcare professionals for appropriate treatment methods.
Are All Types of Alcohol Harmful with Accutane?
All types of alcohol can increase the strain on the liver while taking Accutane, potentially leading to elevated liver enzyme levels. This includes beer, wine, and spirits. As a rule of thumb, if you’re undergoing treatment with Accutane, it’s best to limit or abstain from all types of alcohol. That said, liquor and spirits are usually the most dangerous types of alcohol to take with Accutane. This is because spirits and liquor have higher levels of alcohol, which increases blood alcohol concentration (BAC) much faster. Higher BAC increases the risk of harmful reactions with Accutane.
How Much Accutane can be Dangerous to Take with Alcohol?
Accutane dosages vary depending on the severity of the acne and the patient’s body weight with the most common doses being between .5 milligrams and 1 milligrams. These doses are divided and taken twice daily for about 15 weeks to clear up acne. Even small doses of .5 milligrams are enough to cause a negative reaction with alcohol.
The potential for liver strain or damage increases with higher doses of Accutane and alcohol. Therefore, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before consuming any amount of alcohol while on Accutane.
Does Alcohol Affect How Well Accutane will Work?
Alcohol does not directly affect how well Accutane works. However, drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration and increased inflammation, which can potentially impact the effectiveness of the medication and the healing process of the skin. This is because acne may damage the skin and it needs to heal naturally over time. To prevent scarring and other problems, studies published in the Journal of Medicine show that consuming large quantities of alcohol during any stage of Accutane treatment increases the risk of scarring.
How Long After Taking Accutane can You Drink Alcohol?
The half-life of Accutane is about 24 hours, meaning the medication can stay in the system for quite some time. However, the specific amount of time you should wait after taking Accutane before consuming alcohol can vary based on individual factors and your personal health situation. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice. Accurate is usually part of a long-term treatment for acne, so mixing alcohol and Accurate may interrupt the healing process.
What Are Other Drugs That Are Dangerous To Use with Alcohol?
Like Accutane, many other medications can have negative interactions with alcohol. Always consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional before mixing medications and alcohol. Below we list the other drugs that are dangerous to mix with alcohol.
- Birth Control
These are only some of the drugs that are dangerous to mix with alcohol. Depending on your unique situation, some other medications may also be dangerous to mix. Always consult with your doctor.
Accutane and Alcohol – A Risky Combination
Accutane, a highly effective medication for severe acne, has a complex relationship with alcohol. Given the potential side effects and risks associated with each substance, it is highly advisable to limit or completely avoid alcohol consumption while undergoing Accutane treatment. The harmful effects, such as liver strain, exacerbated side effects, and potential harm during pregnancy, highlight the importance of this caution.
While Accutane does not directly affect the taste or effect of alcohol, the risk lies in the potential liver damage, an amplified intensity of side effects, and the negative impact on the medication’s effectiveness. Consultation with healthcare professionals is imperative for anyone considering alcohol consumption while on this medication. It’s always best to prioritize health and safety when it comes to medication interactions, and the combination of Accutane and alcohol is no exception.
Remember, this advice extends to all types of alcohol and is relevant no matter the dose of Accutane prescribed. Finally, the risks associated with Accutane and alcohol are a reminder that numerous other medications can have dangerous interactions with alcohol. Always consult your doctor when in doubt, and stay safe and informed when it comes to your health.