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Amoxicillin and Alcohol Interactions

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What is Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is a penicillin-based antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, including:

  • Chest infections
  • Dental abscesses
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Infections of the ear, nose, throat, or skin
amox

Amoxicillin is a prescription drug sold under the brand name Amoxil, among others. It is taken orally in the form of liquid (usually for younger children), a chewable tablet, or a pill. It can also be given by injection.

Amoxicillin should be taken at the same time every day for the duration of treatment. It is important to follow instructions and finish all prescribed medication as directed.

The bottle for liquid amoxicillin should be shaken before measuring each dose to ensure the medication is mixed evenly. 

Amoxicillin can be added to water, milk, formula, or juice to make it more palatable for children or infants. Once mixed, it needs to be taken immediately and not saved for a later time.

It is important to take amoxicillin as indicated on your prescription and follow all directions, labels, guides, warnings, and instruction sheets.

Side Effects of Amoxicillin 

Several common side effects can occur when taking amoxicillin. These include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the stomach or abdomen
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Thrush or yeast infection

For the majority of people, nausea and diarrhea are the most common side effects. Liquid amoxicillin can also stain teeth, though this is temporary and may be removed by brushing with regular toothpaste. 

Using this medication for prolonged or repeated periods may also result in oral thrush or a vaginal yeast infection (oral or vaginal fungal infection).

Some people are hypersensitive to amoxicillin and other penicillin derivatives and can have more severe reactions. Report any of the following side effects to a doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Painful, spreading rash
  • Skin blisters
  • Open sores
  • Signs of liver damage
  • Severe pain in the stomach or abdomen
  • Bloody or watery diarrhea
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Unusual weakness or tiredness

In addition, some people may experience a severe allergic reaction to amoxicillin. Signs of a serious allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing 

If this occurs, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.

What Happens if You Drink Alcohol While on Antibiotics?

While it is possible to drink alcohol while on some antibiotics, including amoxicillin, it is generally not advised by most healthcare professionals.

Antibiotics carry the risk of side effects, such as headache, nausea, and dizziness, which can be worsened by drinking alcohol. These interaction effects are often also caused by alcohol use on their own.

With certain antibiotics, such as metronidazole and tinidazole, alcohol consumption should be strictly avoided. 

It is generally best to refrain from drinking alcohol while suffering from an infection or feeling unwell, as alcohol will likely make you feel worse, regardless of how it interferes with the antibiotic’s efficacy.

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Side Effects of Mixing Amoxicillin and Alcohol

Several side effects can occur by mixing amoxicillin and alcohol, with most of these being potential escalations of side effects that can occur from taking either substance individually. 

These side effects include:

  • Feeling sick or worse than before
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea

Most of these side effects could be experienced by ingesting amoxicillin on its own, but consuming alcohol can exacerbate symptoms — or may cause them to occur if they were not already present. 

Risks of Mixing Amoxicillin and Alcohol

In addition to the side effects listed above, several other risks are associated with mixing amoxicillin and alcohol.

These risks include:

  • Not allowing your body to heal properly: Amoxicillin is prescribed to treat the infection and your body needs to recover. 
  • Missing a dose: This could lead to prolonged or less effective treatment.
  • Failing to complete the course of antibiotics: This may result in drug-resistant bacteria.
  • Less effective treatment: Though alcohol does not directly impede amoxicillin from killing bacteria, it can interfere with your body’s natural immune system response. 
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How Long After Taking Amoxicillin Can You Drink Alcohol?

It is possible to drink alcohol while taking amoxicillin, so there is no mandatory period of abstinence following treatment with this antibiotic. 

However, it is still advised that patients complete the entire course of antibiotics before consuming any amount of alcohol to allow the body to fully recover. 

Taking Amoxicillin Safely

Since only a doctor can prescribe amoxicillin, it is essential to be honest about any underlying conditions, alcohol consumption, or substance use disorder. This allows your doctor to make an informed decision about prescribing amoxicillin.

If your doctor prescribes amoxicillin, be sure to do the following:

  • Read the manufacturer’s information thoroughly 
  • Follow your doctors’ instructions for taking the medication 
  • Take doses regularly
  • If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember Complete the whole course as prescribed unless instructed otherwise by your doctor
  • Do not skip days
  • Limit alcohol while taking amoxicillin

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Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

There are many treatment options available for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction, including:

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center.

These programs provide 24/7 comprehensive, structured care. You'll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring. 

The first step of an inpatient program is detoxification. Then behavioral therapy and other services are introduced. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer.

Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) provide similar services to inpatient programs.

Services include medical care, behavioral therapy, and support groups, along with other customized therapies. 

However, in a PHP program, you return home to sleep. Some services provide food and transportation, but services vary by program.

PHPs accept new patients as well as people who have completed an inpatient program and require additional intensive treatment.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient treatment or partial hospitalization programs.

These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule. The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment.

They are best for people who have a high motivation to recover and cannot leave their responsibilities at home, work, or school. Outpatient programs are often part of aftercare programs once you complete an inpatient or PHP program.

It is important for people undergoing treatment to have a stable and supportive home environment. If family members/roommates drink or use drugs in the home environment, it will be extremely difficult for the person to maintain abstinence when they return home after treatment. It is extremely difficult to undergo successful outpatient therapy if you are living in a home environment with ready access to drugs and alcohol.

Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)

Sometimes medications may be used in alcohol addiction treatment.

Some medicines can help reduce the negative side effects of detoxification and withdrawal.

Others can help you reduce cravings and normalize body functions. Disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral), and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat AUD. 

When combined with other evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), MAT can help prevent relapse and increase your chance of recovery.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) are open to anyone with a substance use disorder.

They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober.  Support groups can be the first step towards recovery or part of a long-term aftercare plan.

Updated on March 29, 2022
10 sources cited
  1. Can you drink alcohol with antibiotics? Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/article/antibiotics-and-alcohol.html
  2. Mergenhagen, Kari A, et al. “Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions.” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, American Society for Microbiology, 21 Feb. 2020
  3. Moore, Alison A et al. “Risks of combined alcohol/medication use in older adults.” The American journal of geriatric pharmacotherapy vol. 5,1 : 64-74. doi:10.1016/j.amjopharm.2007.03.006
  4. Ron Weathermon, Pharm.D., and David W. Crabb, M.D. Alcohol and Medication Interactions. NIAAA
  5. Kari A. Mergenhagen, Bethany A. Wattengel, Megan K. Skelly, Collin M. Clark, Thomas A. Russo. Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions. DOI: 10.1128/AAC.02167-19
  6. Baena, José M et al. "Relation between alcohol consumption and the success of Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy using omeprazole, clarithromycin and amoxicillin for 1 week," European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: March 2002 - Volume 14 - Issue 3 - p 291-296.
  7. Morasso MI, et al. "Amoxicillin kinetics and ethanol ingestion." International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology. 1988 Sep;26:428-431
  8. Hakami, Alqassem Y, et al. “Effects of Amoxicillin and Augmentin on Cystine-Glutamate Exchanger and Glutamate Transporter 1 Isoforms as Well as Ethanol Intake in Alcohol-Preferring Rats.” Frontiers in Neuroscience, Frontiers Media S.A., 25 Apr. 2016
  9. Goodwani, Sunil, et al. “Amoxicillin and Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Reduce Ethanol Intake and Increase GLT-1 Expression as Well as AKT Phosphorylation in Mesocorticolimbic Regions.” Brain Research, Elsevier, 10 July 2015
  10. Chan, LN., Anderson, G.D. Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Drug Interactions with Ethanol (Alcohol). Clin Pharmacokinet 53, 1115–1136

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