Using prednisone and alcohol together can increase the risk of many complications. Although prednisone may provide certain health benefits when taken as prescribed, when mixed with alcohol, a person may be at risk of experiencing significant health problems. When used in combination, these two substances can compromise the immune system and place them at a higher risk for osteoporosis and several other health conditions.
People using prednisone for chronic diseases may find these conditions are worsened when they drink alcohol. Even individuals taking prednisone who occasionally abuse alcohol can incur severe problems as a result.
What Is Prednisone?
Prednisone is a corticosteroid that works to relieve inflammation and allergic reactions, such as itching and swelling. It also suppresses the immune system, and for this reason, is used as a treatment for autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Prednisone can also be prescribed to people who have low levels of steroids in their bodies.
Examples of issues that can be treated with prednisone include the following:
- Adrenal issues
- Bone marrow issues
- Endocrine problems
- Kidney conditions
- Multiple sclerosis
- Severe allergic reactions
- Skin conditions such as rashes
- Cancer symptoms
- Ulcerative colitis
Beyond chemical interactions, alcohol use or abuse can also result in an individual neglecting self-care, which may be essential in managing chronic conditions such as those mentioned above. Each of these substances, on its own, comes with risks and the potential for side effects. Combining the two can put even more stress on a person’s body, and in some cases, new health problems may develop.
Risks and Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse can range from infrequent episodes of binge drinking to everyday drinking patterns that typify alcoholism. Regardless, all forms of alcohol abuse can jeopardize a person’s health, and high levels of consumption, especially over a prolonged period, is even more dangerous.
The potential short-term effects of drinking alcohol include blurred vision, dizziness, slurred speech, impaired motor skills, and nausea and vomiting. Complications of alcoholism may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Anxiety depression
- Heart problems
- Gastrointestinal issues
- High blood pressure
- Increased risks of some cancers
- Liver conditions such as cirrhosis
- Weakened immune system
Some health problems, such as heart disease, can occur related to just one night of binge drinking or after long-term use. Chronic and excessive drinking increases the risk of an individual developing this or other severe alcohol-related mental or physical health disorders.
Side Effects and Risks of Prednisone
Although prednisone can help manage chronic health problems, this drug is associated with various adverse effects, including the following:
- Bulging eyes
- Extreme mood swings
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Personality changes
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain
- Swelling in face and extremities
- Difficulty breathing
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Vision problems
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol level
When used in combination with alcohol, some of these side effects and risks related to either substance could be exacerbated.
Risks and Hazards of Combining Prednisone and Alcohol
Both prednisone and excessive alcohol use have been found to raise the risk of many health conditions, including, but not limited to, the following:
Depression – Depression has been linked to both alcohol abuse and the use of prednisone. Moreover, if a person experiences depression as a side effect of one substance, its severity may be increased by the use of the other.
Diabetes Risk – Long-term steroid use has been associated with an increase in blood sugar and the risk of diabetes. By itself, alcohol abuse can cause blood sugar levels to be unstable and is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. As such, consuming alcohol while using prednisone can lead to severe blood sugar problems, including diabetes.
Gastrointestinal Conditions – Both alcohol and prednisone use can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding. Therefore, using these two in combination could increase this risk. Also, digestive system issues caused by one or both substances have been linked to the development of peptic ulcers.
Osteoporosis – Prednisone use comes with a heightened risk of osteoporosis. Heavy alcohol use can cause an imbalance in the nutrients in a person’s body and significantly affect bone health. Excessive and prolonged alcohol abuse has also been associated with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Consuming alcohol while taking prednisone increases this risk dramatically.
Compromised Immune System – Both prednisone and alcohol use can lead to impaired functioning in the immune system, and combining the two can compound this effect. Immune system suppression is usually the desired result of prednisone for those who suffer from autoimmune disorders. However, if the immune system becomes too weak, a person may be more vulnerable to disease.
Decreased Effectiveness of Medication – Prednisone is a medication intended to treat inflammatory issues, but excessive alcohol use has been shown to cause inflammation in the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal system. Moreover, it is possible that alcohol abuse may undermine prednisone’s intended purpose for certain conditions.
In addition to the aforementioned risks, alcohol abuse tends to result in a person neglecting many aspects of self-care, including the use of prescribed medications essential for the management of certain health conditions.
Alcohol Abuse Can Interfere with Medication Use
The adverse effects of alcohol abuse can make it challenging for an individual to adhere to a therapeutic routine for their medication. Even occasional alcohol abuse can result in a person skipping a dose, and those struggling with addiction tend to neglect to take their medication regularly.
Some people who want to drink may intentionally skip a dose of prednisone, or stop taking it entirely to prevent chemical interactions. Also, if an individual suddenly quits taking this medication, they could experience a severe reaction, whereby their immune system could fail to function correctly due to an absence of naturally-occurring steroids. Some people may even experience withdrawal symptoms, which may include the following:
- Body and joint aches
- Severe fatigue
- Reduced appetite
Alcohol abuse can have adverse effects on a person’s mood. Depression, for example, is common among alcoholics and can be detrimental to an individual’s sense of self-worth, and they might not take care of themselves as well as they should. This habit can also lead to skipping or discontinuing the use of their medication, either due to apathy or because they have forgotten while being distracted by negative thoughts and feelings.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
If alcohol abuse is limiting a person’s ability to care for themselves or placing them at a higher risk of damage to their mental and physical health, it’s time to seek professional treatment. The most effective rehab programs teach individuals how to engage in self-care, even when confronted with a chronic disease. By developing coping skills and gaining insight through therapy sessions and counseling, individuals are provided with the tools they need to surmount the unique challenges they are facing, including relapse.
Just Believe Recovery provides those we treat with the education and support they need to recover fully and foster long-lasting health, happiness, and wellness. Our caring staff members are dedicated to ensuring that our patients receive the most effective evidence-based treatment available.
If you or your loved ones are ready to break the chains of substance abuse or addiction, we urge you to call us today to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help!