According to the Mayo Clinic and many other health organizations, it’s best to avoid combining antiviral drugs such as Valtrex with alcohol. While there are no specific warnings included on these products’ labels, alcohol can compromise the effectiveness of a variety of medications. It can also increase the risk of potentially harmful side effects, including dizziness, particularly in older adults, who are the most vulnerable.
What Is Valtrex?
Valtrex (valacyclovir) is an oral antiviral prescription medication used to treat conditions related to the herpes virus, such as genital herpes, cold sores, and shingles. Valtrex is not a herpes cure, although it can effectively minimize symptoms by hindering its spread and growth. According to WHO (World Health Organization), about 67% of the global population is infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Thus, the use of antivirals to treat herpes symptoms is not uncommon.
Valtrex helps a person’s immune system fight against herpes infection and decreases the frequency of outbreaks. When someone uses Valtrex, it can promote the healing of genital warts and cold sores and prevent new ones from occurring. It can also reduce pain and itching often associated with these skin lesions. However, its use will not prevent the virus from being spread to another person, even if the infected individual is asymptomatic.
Valtrex Side Effects
Side effects of Valtrex can include the following:
- Abdominal pain
Less common side effects include the following:
- Mood swings
- Changes in urination
- Difficulty speaking
Rarely, Valtrex use can lead to a disorder that affects blood cells and kidneys, which can be lethal. This condition is more likely to occur in those with a weakened immune system, perhaps due to a kidney transplant or HIV.
Combining Valtrex and Alcohol: Other Factors
It may be relatively safe to use Valtrex while consuming alcohol as long as a person is drinking in moderation. However, it is recommended that patients consult a health provider before combining Valtrex with alcohol or any other medications.
There are also other factors to consider before using Valtrex and alcohol in conjunction. For one, Valtrex can commonly cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting. When Valtrex and alcohol are combined, these side effects can worsen, as alcohol use can also cause digestive issues and vomiting.
As noted, Valtrex can also cause dizziness, as can alcohol, so drinking using Valtrex can cause this potential side effect to be more severe. Thus, people who choose to use these two substances together should probably avoid certain activities while doing so. Severe dizziness can lead to falls and injury, and persons who are experiencing this should not operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery.
A Word on Shingles
If a person has been prescribed Valtrex to treat shingles, it is best to avoid alcohol consumption altogether. Shingles is an infection that is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. Although shingles can develop anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a band of lesions or blisters that winds around a person’s torso.
Unfortunately, pain caused by shingles can be agonizing. Regular alcohol use can compromise a person’s immune system and also the effectiveness of certain medications. As with any viral infection, ideally, the immune system should be operating at peak efficiency and functionality, and when alcohol is being consumed, this may not be achievable.
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
There are no specific warnings against the combined use of alcohol and Valtrex, but it is probably best to avoid drinking while taking this medication. If you have been prescribed Valtrex and have been unable to refrain from drinking alcohol despite attempts to do so, it may be time to seek professional treatment for alcohol dependency or addiction.
Just Believe Recovery is a specialized treatment center that employs highly-skilled professionals who provide those we treat with the tools and support they need to recover from substance abuse. We offer customized, evidence-based programs intended to help people successfully maintain long-term sobriety and wellness.
Our programs include inpatient and partial hospitalization formats. Featured therapeutic services include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Peer support groups
- Life skills training
- Relapse prevention
- Music and art therapy
- Health and wellness programs
- Substance abuse education
- Aftercare planning
We understand that the stigma surrounding substance abuse and addiction continues to exist, but it’s gradually getting better. Modern addiction treatment is most commonly based on the disease model, and no longer focuses on a person’s so-called moral failings or lack of willpower. This fact is important to stress, because many people are hesitant to enter treatment, in fear that they will be unfairly judged, vilified, or shamed in some way.
If you or a loved one is struggling to quit using alcohol or other substances, contact us today to discuss treatment options and learn how we can help!