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Updated on October 17, 2023
6 min read

Pantoprazole and Alcohol Interactions

Alcohol is known to have many adverse interactions with several drugs. In most cases, mixing drugs and alcohol in your body can be by accident. However, some people with substance use disorder (SUD) may intentionally take these dangerous combinations recreationally.

In this blog article, we explain the risks of taking pantoprazole with alcohol and how to prevent the risk of severe side effects and addiction.

What is Pantoprazole?

Pantoprazole sodium belongs to a group of medications called proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) with the common brand name Protonix®. It regulates acid levels in the stomach to alleviate symptoms of stomach ulcers and acid reflux.

Other PPIs include:

Pantoprazole is available only under prescription. It’s a short-term treatment typically taken once a day in the morning. Unlike antacids, which help neutralize the stomach’s acid, pantoprazole lowers the amount of acid in the gastrointestinal region.

How to Take Pantoprazole

Most people take pantoprazole orally, between 30 and 60 minutes before meals.

You should not split, chew, or crush these pills. You should also not take a double dose of pantoprazole to compensate for a missed dose, as doing so can worsen symptoms and gastric acid-related disorders.

If you struggle with pill-swallowing, you can receive pantoprazole as an injection from your primary healthcare provider. Alternatively, you can take this medication in granule form, mixing them into applesauce or fruit juice.

You should avoid taking pantoprazole if:

  • You have liver problems
  • You are allergic to it
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You are about to have an endoscopy
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Can You Drink Alcohol With Pantoprazole?

Pantoprazole and alcohol interactions are typically minimal as long as you closely monitor alcohol intake and consult with a healthcare professional.

It's essential to remember that both pantoprazole and alcohol can increase stomach acid production, irritating the stomach lining and worsening symptoms like drowsiness or acid reflux.

If you plan to drink alcohol while using pantoprazole to treat acid reflux, it’s best to familiarize yourself with your condition's potential risks and drug interactions.

Risks of Mixing Pantoprazole and Alcohol

Alcohol use, especially if abused over long periods, can cause different symptoms. If someone misuses alcohol while on pantoprazole, the risks of interactions between the two substances increase.

It may lead to side effects, which include:

  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Liver injury or scarring
  • Dehydration

Additionally, pantoprazole causes possible side effects and medical conditions, such as:

  • Liver disease
  • Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood)
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Diarrhea

While pantoprazole has minimal alcohol interactions, it can interact negatively with high-dose treatments of methotrexate. In addition, it can interfere with urine and blood tests, causing inaccurate test results.

Besides increasing the severity of side effects, mixing pantoprazole and alcohol also increases the risk of overdose and death.

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What is Pantoprazole for?

Pantoprazole binds to proton pumps, reducing gastric acid secretion and treating the following gastric acid-related diseases:

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

People with GERD experience a backward acid flow from the stomach towards the esophagus and oral cavity. This results in heartburn and damages the esophageal epithelium, which can result in ulceration in severe cases.

Using pantoprazole helps the esophagus heal and prevents more damage to the area. Generally, most patients report improvement within two to three days of starting pantoprazole.

Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome occurs when tumors appear in the pancreas or upper area of the small intestine. These tumors release a hormone called gastrin, which causes the stomach to make too much acid.

Possible problems from Zollinger-Ellison syndrome include peptic ulcers, diarrhea, and more.

Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD)

PUD occurs when the stomach lining or small intestine develops painful sores, leading to bleeding.

Peptic ulcers typically come from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) side effects. However, it is also known to develop due to genetic causes.

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What are The Side Effects of Pantoprazole?

Pantoprazole can be prescribed as a short-term solution for treating the abovementioned conditions. Its side effects include the following:

Short-Term Effects

Taking proton-pump inhibitors, such as pantoprazole, can produce the following side effects:1

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating or gas
  • Pain in the joints
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain

Long-Term Effects

A healthcare professional may prescribe pantoprazole therapy for short-term use because of the potential long-term side effects. It's always best to speak with a medical provider to determine if pantoprazole can be continued.

The following list describes some side effects that people may experience over time:

Fractures

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) determined that there is a risk of developing fractures due to PPI use.5

Low stomach acid levels may lessen calcium absorption in the small intestine. This could lead to osteoporosis and other related conditions. It can contribute to a higher risk of breaking bones, especially the hip bone.

Pneumonia

According to some studies, people who took PPIs were more likely to develop pneumonia than those who didn't.6

PPIs reduce stomach acid, making the stomach environment more hospitable for bacteria. As such, more bacteria may be present to travel to the respiratory system, potentially causing pneumonia.

Iron and B12 deficiency

Stomach acid helps draw iron and vitamin B12 from food for easier absorption.

Lower stomach acid levels caused by PPIs could mildly affect absorption, leading to a possible vitamin and mineral deficiency.

C. difficile infection

C. difficile (Clostridium difficile) is a type of bacteria that affects the large intestine, causing diarrhea or more severe health problems.

There's no confirmed direct cause and effect between PPIs and this type of infection. However, some evidence suggests that PPIs could alter gut conditions that encourage the growth of C. difficile bacteria.7

Rare Side Effects

While rare, taking pantoprazole can occasionally cause the following adverse effects:

  • Allergic reaction and rashes
  • Dark pee and stool
  • Pain while urinating
  • Swollen ankles
  • Muscle pain

Is Pantoprazole Addictive?

Long-term use of pantoprazole can lead to the body depending on its effects. Over-dependency can lead to exacerbated physical conditions and mental health problems. If you’ve taken a proton pump inhibitor for a prolonged period, it's not recommended to quit it suddenly.

Quitting 'cold turkey' may start making symptoms worse. It may cause the stomach to produce much more acid and invite the return of symptoms like gastric ulcers.

You can stop taking the drug in most short-term cases without cutting back on the dose first. However, it’s important to always discuss this with your healthcare provider before stopping any treatment.

Treatment for Pantoprazole and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Many therapy options are available for pantoprazole and alcohol use disorder.

For example:

MAT helps lower alcohol use among people with an alcohol use disorder. It can provide the support needed for someone to avoid drinking alcohol and manage their withdrawal symptoms.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions can also give people the coping skills to help confront triggers or situations that may lead to alcohol consumption.

These options are just some of the many solutions to aid in your recovery. While it can be difficult, it isn't impossible. People facing these conditions can lead a more fulfilled, balanced life with the proper support and care.

Summary

Pantoprazole is a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) prescribed to treat conditions that affect stomach acid levels, such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Peptic ulcer disease (PUD). While it has minimal drug interactions with alcohol, mixing the two can compromise the stomach lining and increase the side effects of alcohol.

Long-term use of pentoprazole can lead to physical dependence and other side effects. If you’re dealing with substance use disorder (SUD), consult an addiction specialist to find the right treatment option for your recovery.

Updated on October 17, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on October 17, 2023
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