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Updated on September 13, 2023
5 min read

Ibuprofen (Advil) and Alcohol Interactions and Risks

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is often used to relieve pain and discomfort. The common brand names for ibuprofen are Advil and Motrin.

Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter drug, meaning you don't need a doctor's prescription to get it. However, some prescription pain relievers may also contain ibuprofen.

NSAIDs like ibuprofen are typically used to treat:

  • Chronic pain
  • Fever
  • Arthritis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Headaches

It is dangerous to mix ibuprofen and alcohol. If you want to prevent any severe health conditions, follow your prescription or the recommended dosage on the box. Adults should not exceed 1,200 mg per day for over-the-counter ibuprofen.

Advil

Can You Mix Ibuprofen and Alcohol?

Generally speaking, it's best to avoid consuming alcohol while taking ibuprofen. However, the answer can depend on a few factors.

For most people, having a small amount of alcohol while taking ibuprofen won't be harmful. But, moderate or heavy drinking could increase the risk of dangerous side effects from ibuprofen. This is especially true if you have certain health conditions like kidney disease.

Moderate drinking is defined as drinking 2 or fewer drinks daily for men and 1 drink or fewer for women.7 On the other hand, heavy drinking is defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men and 8 a week for women. 

Will Ibuprofen and Alcohol Kill You?

Drinking a small amount of alcohol while taking ibuprofen is usually safe. However, combining alcohol and ibuprofen is still dangerous and can cause potentially life-threatening side effects. This drug interaction can increase the risk of long-term health complications and fatal accidents.

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Side Effects of Mixing Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Mixing ibuprofen and alcohol carries many risks and severe side effects, which can happen without warning. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of these side effects.

These include:

Gastrointestinal Bleeding and Stomach Ulcers

Alcohol can enhance the ability of ibuprofen and damage the stomach mucosa. Therefore, mixing alcohol and ibuprofen can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers may include:

  • Red, black, or tarry stools
  • Blood in the toilet
  • Sudden nausea or loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting bright red blood or vomit that resembles coffee grounds

If you or someone you know displays any of these symptoms, get medical help immediately.

Kidney and Liver Damage

Ibuprofen can cause stress to your kidneys and liver even without alcohol. When you add alcohol to the mix, there can be adverse effects. If taken together long-term, the combination can cause damage, leading to liver and kidney disease.

Symptoms of kidney damage may include:

  • Decreases or changes in urination
  • Fatigue
  • Leg or ankle swelling
  • Nausea
  • Shallow or difficulty breathing

Symptoms of liver damage may include:

  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Upper-right abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting

Decreased Alertness and Drowsiness 

Both alcohol and ibuprofen have depressant effects. Alcohol can cause sleepiness or lightheadedness. Similarly, ibuprofen also can bring you to a more relaxed state.

Because ibuprofen has similar side effects, drinking alcohol while taking the drug may increase these effects. This combination can increase the risk of fatal accidents due to slow reactions and drowsiness.

Cardiovascular Issues

NSAIDs have been linked to cardiovascular issues, drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen can worsen these side effects. These include:

  • Problems with blood flow
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat

Get emergency help if you or someone you know is experiencing chest pains, slurred speech, or weakness after combining these two substances.

Risks in Older Adults and Women

Older adults have a greater risk of experiencing adverse reactions from mixing drugs with alcohol.6 This is because their bodies can’t break down alcohol as well.

Similarly, women face a higher risk of health problems when combining ibuprofen and alcohol. Women metabolize alcohol more slowly, so alcohol stays in the body longer.

Overdose

It is possible to overdose on ibuprofen. It is also possible to overdose on alcohol

The symptoms can be much more severe if you overdose on ibuprofen while under alcohol. It may result in coma, liver damage, or death.

Symptoms of an ibuprofen overdose include:

  • Dizziness
  • Uncontrollable fast eye movements 
  • Slow breathing or intermittent periods of no breathing
  • A blue color surrounding the lips, mouth, and nose

How Long After Drinking Alcohol Can I Take Ibuprofen?

The effects of ibuprofen last approximately 4 to 6 hours. The half-life of ibuprofen is about 2 hours, which means it takes about 2 hours for your body to metabolize half the dosage.

It can take up to 24 hours for your body to get ibuprofen out of your system entirely. On the other hand, it takes your liver about 1 hour to metabolize a standard drink. If you drink more, it takes longer to metabolize.

The alcohol remaining in your body can still interact with ibuprofen. If you have consumed a small amount of alcohol, you should wait approximately one day to take ibuprofen. If you drink heavily, wait at least two days to take ibuprofen.

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Summary

Ibuprofen is a common pain reliever used to manage pain from various conditions. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that you can get over the counter.

Like other NSAID medications, ibuprofen can interact with alcohol, which can lead to dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects. Mixing ibuprofen and alcohol can increase the risk of stomach bleeding, kidney or liver disease, and cardiovascular issues.

This is especially dangerous when you have underlying medical conditions like kidney or heart dieases. Before taking ibuprofen it's important to discuss your alcohol use and other preexisting conditions with your doctor.

Updated on September 13, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on September 13, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Alcohol Facts and Stats.” NIAAA, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2020.
  2. Can I Take Advil with Alcohol?” Advil.
  3. Falcon, Carla Y. “Ibuprofen: How Well Do You Know Your Favorite Drug?” American Association of Endodontists, 2017.
  4. Ibuprofen: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2022.
  5. NSAIDs.” NHS Choices, NHS, 2019.
  6. Substance Use in Older Adults.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.
  7. Is it safe to mix ibuprofen and alcohol?” Medical News Today, 2019.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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