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Accutane (isotretinoin) is a prescription drug that treats severe acne. It’s a “last resort” option, which is why doctors don’t usually prescribe it until several other treatments fail.
Accutane is used to treat skin issues including:
Unfortunately, some people experience side effects from using Accutane. These side effects range from severe dryness to triggering symptoms of depression.
The drug is a retinoid derived from vitamin A, so the body reacts to the drug similarly to it. Because vitamin A is not water soluble, it can build up in your liver if you take too much of it. This is why drinking alcohol while taking Accutane increases the risk of liver damage.
In some cases, people taking low doses of Accutane can occasionally have an alcoholic drink without any severe side effects. However, the damage to your body might not be as apparent as others.
Combining Accutane and alcohol can trigger a variety of side effects. Even if your body tolerates Accutane well, you could experience these side effects if you combine alcohol with the drug:
One of the greatest concerns related to mixing alcohol and Accutane is liver damage.
Alcohol has serious effects on the liver. Long-term use of alcohol, especially when it’s heavy, can irreparably damage the liver.
Unfortunately, Accutane also puts you at risk of liver damage. Combining alcohol and Accutane can cause serious liver damage. Either or both in high enough doses can cause fatal liver damage.
Since the two substances overwork the liver, people taking Accutane while drinking may experience the following:
Additionally, you’re likely to feel the effects of alcohol faster when using Accutane. This is due to the inability of the liver to process both substances as efficiently at the same time.
Both alcohol and Accutane affect dopamine levels in the brain. Too much dopamine can increase gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain which slows the body and causes lethargy.
In other cases, people who mix Accutane and alcohol experience:
This is because both alcohol and Accutane affect the central nervous system’s neurotransmitters. Mixing the two substances can trigger a variety of mood issues.
If you’re unsure if you’re experiencing a problem with your mental health while taking alcohol, speak to your doctor immediately. Don’t dismiss the issue or assume it’s a temporary effect.
Drinking alcohol while on Accutane can cause problems with triglyceride or fat levels in the blood.
On its own, Accutane is known to increase bad cholesterol levels. The increase isn’t permanent and once you stop taking Accutane your lipid levels decrease. However, unchecked high cholesterol levels can lead to pancreatitis.
Since alcohol also affects triglyceride levels, combining the two increases the risk twice as much.
It’s important to ask your healthcare provider if drinking alcohol is okay while you’re taking Accutane. Their medical advice likely depends on your medical history and history of substance abuse.
Accutane taken in high enough doses and combined with alcohol can slow your reflexes. Combining the two can also cause drowsiness and sedation. These side effects can be long-lasting if exposed to the substances often over time.
You should always avoid driving while drinking alcohol. However, doing so is especially important when combining alcohol and Accutane. The side effects listed above can have a significant impact on your driving ability and put you and other people on the road at risk.
Combined alcohol and Accutane consumption can also lead to more severe side effects, such as:
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Binge drinking or moderate drinking can lead to the severe side effects mentioned above. This is why it’s generally unsafe to drink alcohol while undergoing Accutane treatment. However, if you must drink, consume as little as possible and avoid dehydration.
Drink plenty of water and have a plan if you experience a negative side effect. It’s a good idea to consult with your doctor to know what you should do if you accidentally consume alcohol.
If you choose to drink while using Accutane, it’s important to do what you can to offset the potential negative effects. Let your prescribing doctor know that you will/are drinking alcohol with Accutane, and be sure to follow up with regular testing of your liver’s function.
Make sure you consume plenty of water before, after, and even while you are consuming alcohol.
Assume that any minor sign of a side effect is something to be concerned about. Don’t dismiss any symptoms you have or assume they are not a big deal.
It’s best to avoid alcohol for 5 to 7 days after you stop taking Accutane. This gives your body time to clear the drug, so you aren’t overworking your liver.
If you are taking a lower dose, you might not need to wait as many days after finishing Accutane to drink.
You’ll undergo a blood test after taking Accutane to show whether or not traces of the drug remain in your system.
If you are concerned about the effects of mixing alcohol and the medication, wait until you get the all-clear from your test.
Most of Accutane’s side effects ease once someone stops taking it. However, the most serious side effects from the drug could cause long-term consequences. These include:
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While Accutane may be a standard acne treatment, it comes with severe risks to your body if used improperly. Since it can complicate your liver’s health, it’s best to avoid mixing it with alcohol.
Everyone reacts differently to combining alcohol with prescription drugs. The only way to know how your body will tolerate the combination is to try it. However, doing so puts you at risk of serious consequences.
Make sure you consult your doctor before drinking while taking Accutane.
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