Can You Drink Alcohol With Amoxicillin?
Author: Thomas Roth
Last Updated: 11/18/2021
Amoxicillin is an antibiotic that's based on penicillin. The medication is used to treat infections in the body and varies in dosage. While alcohol doesn't react with amoxicillin or cause the medication to become less useful, it's not a good idea to combine the substances.
Combining alcohol with amoxicillin leads to increased side effects in some individuals. Some of these side effects can impair brain function, weaken the immune system, and lead to dizziness. To avoid the risk of side effects, you should avoid drinking alcohol and taking amoxicillin.
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What is Amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin is a penicillin-based antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. The drug can be found under prominent brand names like Moxatag and requires a prescription from a doctor. Amoxicillin is commonly used to treat bacterial infections that occur within the stomach, mouth, throat, ears, chest, and sometimes even the stomach.
When prescribed amoxicillin, a doctor will likely give you specific instructions that need to be followed. The medication should be taken with food and tends to have a frequency of 8-12 hours. Amoxicillin begins to peak 1-2 hours after taking it orally and lasts for between 8-12 hours depending on the dosage, hence the frequency.
While amoxicillin works against bacterial infections it doesn't work for viruses. Therefore, you should never take amoxicillin for a condition like the common cold or flu.
What is the Chemical Structure of Amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin, or amoxicillin anhydrous, has a unique chemical structure that consists of a semisynthetic aminopenicillin antibiotic. It has bactericidal properties that disrupt bacterial synthesis (how bacteria multiply). The molecular structure of amoxicillin is C16H19N3O5S.
Amoxicillin accomplishes this disruption by binding to penicillin-binding proteins. These proteins line the inner cell wall of bacteria. The process interrupts the peptidoglycan chains within the bacterial cell. These chains are responsible for the strength of the bacteria's cell wall. When the wall of the cell becomes compromised it struggles to replicate, which causes the infection to gradually subside.
What Is Amoxicillin Used For?
Amoxicillin is a type of antibiotic that's used to treat bacterial infections. The drug is commonly used to treat dental abscesses, chest infections, urinary tract infections. Amoxicillin comes in various doses and can be administered orally or intravenously depending on the severity of the infection.
Some of the most common bacterial infections amoxicillin are used for include:
Amoxicillin is also a common medication for young children. When used in young children, amoxicillin is used for severe chest infections and ear infections. It's also important to note that amoxicillin shouldn't be taken unless it's prescribed –even if you have some leftovers.
Amoxicillin is also used in rare cases that involve stomach ulcers. Helicobacter pylorus is an infection that causes ulcers in the stomach. For this infection, doctors tend to combine amoxicillin with Biaxin –another antibiotic.
Taking the medication for the wrong illness can cause adverse effects and make the body less receptive to the medication. When using amoxicillin always consult with a medical health professional.
How Does Amoxicillin Make You Feel?
Amoxicillin doesn't come with serious side effects unless you have an allergic reaction to penicillin. That said, amoxicillin does have side effects that can make you feel unwell. The good news is that most side effects will be less intense than the infection or illness your body is dealing with.
Some of the most common side effects of amoxicillin include:
Changes in blood pressure
Changes in heart rhythm (if allergic to penicillin)
Diarrhea (if intravenous)
These side effects can happen when taking amoxicillin but that doesn't mean they will happen. In most cases, you won't even notice the effects.
How Long Does It Take for Amoxicillin to Start Working?
Amoxicillin is absorbed within minutes when taken orally. Once your body starts to absorb amoxicillin it takes between 1 and 2 hours for the drug to reach its peak. Some factors that influence this include other medications, weight, age, and how much food was in the stomach.
Unfortunately, amoxicillin doesn't instantly cure infections. For this reason, you'll have to wait between 24-72 hours to notice a decline in infection. This period can vary from person to person based on the factors mentioned earlier (weight, age, etc..).
Why You Shouldn't Mix Alcohol and Amoxicillin
Mixing alcohol with amoxicillin can lead to many adverse side effects, so you shouldn't mix the two substances. Mixing alcohol and amoxicillin can cause reactions that depend on the person, the dosage of medication, and how much alcohol is consumed.
That said, some of the side effects can be life-threatening if the dosages are high enough. For example, sudden changes in blood pressure can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Another common side effect, dizziness, can lead to loss of balance and physical damage from falling or fainting.
These are only a handful of side effects and situations that can occur when mixing alcohol and amoxicillin.
What Side Effects do Occur When You Combine Alcohol With Amoxicillin?
Combining alcohol and amoxicillin can lead to unpleasant side effects. While alcohol won't render the medication useless, alcohol can amplify the side effects of amoxicillin.
If you combine both substances some of the most common side effects include:
Nausea and vomiting
Changes in blood pressure
Reduced ability to fight infections
Elevated heart rate
The combination of alcohol and amoxicillin will affect everyone differently, so it's important to avoid combining the two substances if possible.
Does Alcohol Affect How Well Amoxicillin Works?
If you're recovering from an infection, drinking alcohol with amoxicillin can delay your body's ability to heal. Alcohol impacts how amoxicillin works by temporarily damaging someone's immune system. Plus, the side effects of alcohol consumption can enhance the severity of an illness, especially one that requires amoxicillin as a treatment.
If you combine alcohol and amoxicillin the side effects of both substances tend to become enhanced. You can expect to experience side effects like:
Feeling sick and nausea
Changes in blood pressure
Combining alcohol and amoxicillin can also indirectly reduce the medication's effectiveness. This happens because alcohol can cause you to forget to take your medication, weaken the immune system, and make you feel worse than before.
Keeping this in mind, it's not always a good idea to combine amoxicillin and alcohol. In most cases, the risks outweigh the rewards.
How Long After Taking Amoxicillin Can You Drink Alcohol?
Amoxicillin is a unique antibiotic that's not directly impacted by alcohol, which means you can drink alcohol if you're on amoxicillin. There is no mandatory waiting period like there is for other medications. Still, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to drink alcohol and amoxicillin.
Alcohol and amoxicillin can have different reactions in the body depending on the person. For this reason, medical professionals recommend waiting between 48-72 hours before drinking alcohol after taking amoxicillin.
What Other Drugs Are Dangerous to Use With Alcohol?
Most drugs are dangerous to use with alcohol. While prescription medications have instructions for how to use them with alcohol, illegal substances do not. Therefore, you should never combine a substance you're not familiar with –even if it lowers your inhibitions.
That said, here are some of the common dangerous medications people mix with alcohol:
Ecstacy and/or Molly
Opioids like Percocet
Taking any of these drugs alongside alcohol can lead to adverse reactions inside your body. Unfortunately, everyone's body is different, so it's almost impossible to determine what the outcome will be until it's too late.
What Should Be Done to Reduce Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction, or alcohol abuse disorder (AUD), occurs when someone has a strong and hard to control urge to consume alcohol. Alcoholism can consist of cravings for large amounts of alcohol, small amounts of alcohol, and even binge drinking (drinking a lot of drinks in a short time to feel the effects faster).
AUD is a complicated condition but it can be managed.
Treating AUD can be done in many ways but some of the most common include:
Inpatient Treatment: residential clinics where patients are housed, fed, and kept on the premises.
Outpatient Treatment: This consists of patients going to clinics in a set frequency each week or month. Treatment methods consist of therapy, detoxification with medications like Diazepam, and partial hospitalization.
Sober Living: Sober living programs give patients more freedom but also more responsibility. These programs teach values, life skills, and responsibility alongside alcohol treatment.
Detox: Detox is for severe cases of alcoholism that require medications to ease potentially life-threatening symptoms.
While these are all viable treatment options, many people choose to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings to remain sober after treatment concludes.