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Naproxen and Alcohol

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What is Naproxen (Aleve)?

Naproxen is the generic name for Aleve® or Naprosyn®. It's a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that treats pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It can also treat:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine)
  • Gout (sudden, severe joint pain prevalent in older men)
  • Bursitis (inflammation of an area in the joints)
  • Tendonitis (tendon inflammation)
  • Primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)

NSAIDs work by blocking the body's production of inflammation-causing natural substances. Other Naproxen pain relievers include:

  • EC Naprosyn
  • Anaprox
  • Anaprox DS
  • Naprox Sodium
  • Naproxen EC
  • Naproxen SR
  • Naprelan
  • Menstridol

Naproxen Forms & Dosage

Naproxen is available as a tablet or liquid that is administered orally. Over-the-counter (OTC) naproxen may be taken with food or milk to prevent nausea. 

When taking NSAIDs, taking the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time is important to minimize the risk of serious side effects. 

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Common Side Effects of Naproxen

Side effects of naproxen range from mild to serious.

The most common adverse reactions to naproxen include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Swelling

Less common side effects include:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Night blindness
  • Bloating or sensation of feeling full
  • Intense, continuous nausea
  • Racing heart rate 
  • Rapid breathing
  • Thirst
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

Serious side effects include:

  • Changes in vision
  • Sore throat 
  • Sudden, unexplained weight gain
  • Confusion
  • Skin reactions (rash, purple blotches, hives, blisters, or reddening)
  • Stomach bleeding or ulcers (bloody or tarry, dark stools, coughing up blood, or vomit resembling coffee grounds)
  • Liver issues (nausea, flu-like symptoms, dark urine, jaundice, or a decrease in appetite)
  • Kidney problems (swelling in feet or ankles, decreased urination, shortness of breath, or lack of energy)

Call 911 and seek medical attention immediately if these side effects occur.

Taking NSAIDs like naproxen can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. This risk may occur early in treatment and increase over time. 

Women trying to become pregnant should not take naproxen. The drug may delay ovulation (when the ovary releases an egg) and affect a woman’s ability to conceive children. 

People with a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding are at greater risk for serious adverse events.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Naproxen?

Naproxen provides pain relief by inhibiting the production of a hormone called prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are produced in cells at the site of an injury. 

When your body releases prostaglandins, symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and fever occur. Naproxen helps reduce these effects.

This also means that naproxen can lessen the protective effects associated with prostaglandins, such as repairing and conserving the stomach lining. 

Proper adherence to naproxen dosing minimizes the risk of developing gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding. 

However, this risk increases when a person consumes alcohol while taking naproxen. Alcohol has been shown to have detrimental effects on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 

In large amounts, alcohol can cause cell death in the mucosal lining and promote ulcer formation. It can also contribute to inflammatory bowel diseases and chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.

Don’t drink alcohol while taking naproxen. This interaction can cause serious health consequences that require immediate medical care. For example, combining the two substances increases the risk of gastritis, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

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What Happens If You Drink Alcohol While Taking Naproxen?

Taking naproxen with alcohol can produce life-threatening health effects like upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. 

Heavy drinking can put stress on the GI tract and liver and result in organ damage. 

When combined with naproxen or any other NSAID, the risk of developing a stomach ulcer or gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) that leads to upper GI bleeding increases. Older people have an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers.

If you have difficulty stopping alcohol consumption while taking naproxen, it may indicate an underlying dependency on alcohol.

Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about alcohol and naproxen use. 

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Dangers of Mixing Naproxen and Alcohol

It’s important to consider all of the associated risks when combining naproxen and alcohol. 

Naproxen may cause stomach bleeding. Drinking alcohol while taking naproxen can increase the risk of this occurring. Other side effects of mixing naproxen and alcohol include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal ulcers
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Fluid retention
  • Liver damage or liver failure
  • Kidney problems

If you believe you're experiencing these side effects, seek medical help immediately.

How Long After Taking Naproxen is It Safe to Drink?

Aleve can stay in the system for up to 24 hours, so your safest bet is to avoid drinking alcohol for that time. This will, however, depend on your dose of NSAIDs and the amount of alcohol you plan to consume.

Naproxen & Alcohol FAQs

How much alcohol can you drink with naproxen?

It’s recommended to avoid alcohol while taking naproxen.

Can you drink alcohol while taking anti-inflammatory drugs?

Both naproxen and ibuprofen are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that have been associated with an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. 

Consuming alcohol can increase this risk. It’s not recommended to mix either medication with alcohol.

Takeaways

  • Naproxen is the generic name for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Aleve® or Naprosyn®.
  • It treats pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • You should not drink alcohol while taking naproxen.
  • Combining naproxen and alcohol increases the chances of gastritis, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Elderly people are at a higher risk of serious side effects of NSAIDs. 
  • Prolonged use of alcohol may be a sign of an alcohol use disorder.
  • Contact your doctor or 911 for immediate medical attention if you experience changes in vision, sore throat, sudden weight gain, extreme confusion, skin reactions (rash, hives, blisters, red or purple blotches), stomach bleeding, liver issues, or kidney problems.
  • NSAIDs like naproxen can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Women trying to become pregnant shouldn’t take naproxen.
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Updated on July 21, 2022
6 sources cited
  1. Food and Drug Administration. “EC-NAPROSYN~ (Naproxen Delayed-Release Tablets) NAPROSYN~ (Naproxen Tablets) ANAPROX~/ANAPROX~ DS (Naproxen Sodium Tablets) NAPROSYN~ (Naproxen Suspension).” Www.accessdata.fda.gov.
  2. Alcohol and NSAIDs Increase Risk for Upper GI Bleeding.American Family Physician, 1 May 2000.
  3. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews.National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. Brutzkus, Joseph C. “Naproxen.StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 May 2020.
  5. Naproxen (Oral Route) Before Using.Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Feb. 2020.
  6. Naproxen.” Naproxen - Drug Usage Statistics. ClinCalc DrugStats Database, 2018.

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