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Is It Safe to Combine Metformin and Alcohol?

Is It Safe to Combine Metformin and Alcohol? | Just Believe Recovery PA

In This Article

Metformin is a prescription medication that helps control blood sugar levels for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Moderate alcohol use is generally safe for most patients taking this drug. However, if someone is struggling with alcoholism, engages in binge drinking, or abuses Metformin, the combination of the two can be hazardous. Persons who use Metformin are at risk of the potentially lethal condition known as lactic acidosis when they drink too much alcohol.

Even if used independently, Metformin side effects may include the following:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Respiratory problems
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Diarrhea

Metformin and Alcohol Side Effects

Metformin works by improving the body’s insulin sensitivity and reducing the amount of blood glucose produced by the liver. Unfortunately, alcohol also affects the liver. Combining the two leads to an over-stressed liver that cannot perform as efficiently. This issue tends to worsen over time and is especially dangerous for individuals with active alcohol abuse problems.

Metformin users are at a heightened risk of experiencing stomach upset and diarrhea. Consuming alcohol also triggers stomach upset for many individuals, and this side effect when the two are mixed can become a severe problem.

In general, individuals with type 2 diabetes should avoid alcohol consumption, especially that which is done in excess. This is because drinking alcohol affects blood sugar and burdens the liver, both of which are potential problems for those with diabetes.

Alcohol interferes with your liver’s usual processes, putting you at risk of an unhealthy decrease in blood sugar. Common symptoms of low blood sugar include dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness. These symptoms are comparable to what one might experience when drinking alcohol.

Alcohol can also exacerbate Metformin’s common side effects, especially gastrointestinal issues. This is one reason why it’s essential to limit alcohol use when taking Metformin if you choose to drink at all. Combining Metformin and alcohol also increases a person’s risk of liver disease.

Side effects that may be severe when Metformin is combined with alcohol include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive gas
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Acidic stomach
  • Muscle cramping

Risks of Combining Metformin and Alcohol

In some instances, the side effects of mixing Metformin and alcohol are dangerous. Drinking excessively when using this medication to treat diabetes can induce potentially life-threatening complications. Drinking frequently is also a severe problem and can provoke various health complications, such as lactic acidosis.

Lactic Acidosis

Is It Safe to Combine Metformin and Alcohol? | Just Believe Recovery PA

Lactic acidosis is among the most dangerous risks associated with combining Metformin and alcohol. It occurs when an individual’s blood is too acidic, and there is a lactic acid buildup. All patients who use Metformin are at risk of this condition.

The risk of lactic acidosis is so significant that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a “black box warning” on the medication’s packaging. In addition, drinking alcohol increases this risk further.

If you experience any of the following symptoms of lactic acidosis, you should seek emergency medical intervention immediately:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fast or shallow breathing
  • Muscle seizures
  • Intense weakness
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid or fluttering heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting


Hypoglycemia is a risk for any person mixing Metformin and alcohol because of both substances’ effect on one’s blood sugar. Even without excessive alcohol consumption, Metformin patients who take too large of a dose are at risk. Alcohol can increase this risk because it causes a reduction in blood sugar. Some of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia are similar to common symptoms of alcohol consumption and include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Exhaustion
  • Increased appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired concentration
  • Cold sweats
  • Blurry vision
  • Pale skin
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Shakiness
  • Slurred speech

Getting Help for Alcoholism

Just Believe Recovery Center is a specialized addiction treatment facility that offers comprehensive programs in residential and intensive outpatient format. Our integrated approach to treatment includes many therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, psychoeducation, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and more.

We employ highly skilled staff trained in mental health and addiction who are dedicating to providing each individual we treat with the support, education, and medical care they need to sustain abstinence indefinitely and reclaim the fulfilling and healthy lives they deserve.

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Recovery PA at (888) 380-0342. Our specialists can assess your needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.
Just Believe Recovery Carbondale

Just Believe Recovery is a fully licensed, Joint Commission accredited, comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment center located in Carbondale, Pennsylvania

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