We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Is It Safe to Combine Atenolol and Alcohol?

By Valerie Goldberg
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Atenolol is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure, heart attacks and related conditions. It is not recommended that a person combine atenolol and alcohol, because atenolol has many potential side effects, and drinking alcohol can increase the intensity of these side effects. Still, when a person begins taking a prescription medication, it is always important to ask the doctor about potential side effects, interactions and the advisability of mixing the prescription drug with any degree of alcohol consumption.

Many high blood pressure drugs, including atenolol, can cause fatigue, drowsiness, nausea and dizziness as side effects. Drinking alcohol on its own can cause similar effects, especially if a person consumes too much. Combining atenolol and alcohol can put a person in danger, because the alcohol can increase any symptoms already being experienced as a result of the medication. When a person mixes the two substances, he or she may be at risk of falling down from excessive dizziness or throwing up as a result of extreme nausea.

Another side effect of atenolol is depression. Alcohol can make a person act happy and goofy, but in reality, it has a depressive effect on the human body. If a person is already depressed as a side effect of taking atenolol, then drinking liquor, beer or wine will only make that depression worse. Once the person is under the influence of alcohol, he or she also may have impaired judgment. A person who has suicidal thoughts as a result of depression may be at risk of doing something dangerous — especially if his or her judgment is impaired — that he or she would not consider while sober.

Some people may argue that it is safe to combine atenolol and alcohol because one is processed in the kidneys and the other is processed in the liver. Those in favor of combining the two also may point out that combining atenolol and alcohol will not cause the medication to stop doing its job to lower blood pressure. While these two points may have some validity, it does not mean it is in a person's best interest to drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medication. Every person has a different alcohol tolerance and may respond to medications differently, as well. If a person is taking atenolol and wants to have some alcohol to celebrate his or her birthday or during a holiday party, then he or she should contact the prescribing doctor so the medical professional can offer the best advice based on the patient's personal medical history.

Does Drinking Alcohol and Taking Atenolol Raise Your Heart Rate?

Alcohol does not directly interact with the medication. However, combining atenolol and alcohol can increase side effects, including low blood pressure and rapid heart rate. To understand why this is, you should understand how both substances affect your body.

Effects of Atenolol

Beta-blockers like atenolol work by preventing the beta receptors in your heart from receiving epinephrine. Also called adrenaline, epinephrine is a stress hormone responsible for the body's fight-or-flight response. One of epinephrine's functions is to elevate your heart rate. By blocking epinephrine, atenolol reduces your heart rate and relax your blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure.

Effects of Alcohol

In the short term, drinking alcohol increases heart rate, especially if you don't drink enough water. In the long term, frequent drinking can lead to a rapid heart rate or irregular heartbeat. Blood pressure, on the other hand, often decreases slightly after a few drinks. However, in the long term, heavy drinking tends to increase blood pressure.

Effects of Using Atenolol and Alcohol

The main risk of using atenolol and alcohol together is low blood pressure. Because they both lower blood pressure, using them together can cause your blood pressure to drop extremely low. When this happens, your body attempts to bring your blood pressure back up by constricting blood vessels and increasing your heart rate. This is why some people who drink alcohol while taking atenolol experience very low blood pressure and a rapid heart rate.

Other Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

If you drink alcohol while taking atenolol, you may experience additional symptoms of low blood pressure, including:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Dizziness and fainting can lead to serious injuries. If you faint and hit your head, or if you experience extreme dizziness or a very rapid heartbeat, you should seek medical attention.

How Long After Taking a Atenolol Can You Drink Alcohol?

When you start taking atenolol, you should avoid alcohol completely until you know how the medicine affects you. If it makes you dizzy or lightheaded, continue avoiding alcohol for the entire time you are taking the medication, as alcohol exacerbates these side effects. If you don't experience dizziness or lightheadedness with atenolol, it may be safe to have the occasional drink if your doctor approves.

If you stop taking the drug, it will take a day or two to fully leave your system. Until then, there is a risk of side effects if you drink alcohol, even if you have not recently taken atenolol.

Another consideration is the condition you started taking atenolol for. Many of the conditions treated with beta-blockers are exacerbated by alcohol. Even if your symptoms have improved and you no longer need the medication, you must use caution when resuming alcohol use, as it may worsen your symptoms.

It is always best to discuss your symptoms with your doctor and determine what treatment plan is best for you. If you regularly drink alcohol, make sure your doctor is aware of this. He or she may advise you to stop drinking or limit your alcohol consumption.

Atenolol and Depression

Some people who take atenolol report depression as a side effect. This is not always a direct effect of the drug; additional side effects, such as drowsiness and trouble sleeping, can affect your mood and contribute to depression. Because alcohol is a depressant, it can worsen this side effect. Alcohol can also worsen the other side effects of atenolol, which in turn can affect mood.

If you experience depression or other mood changes while taking atenolol, it is important to mention them to your doctor. Your doctor may adjust your medication or recommend lifestyle changes to help you feel better mentally and physically.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By fBoyle — On Oct 06, 2012

@ysmina-- It's good that you didn't have any problems, but yea, don't give people ideas!

What dose were you on? I wonder if you were on a low dose and that's why you didn't get side effects.

By ysmina — On Oct 05, 2012
I'm not advising anyone to do this but I have drank while I was on atenolol and did not have any problems but I can't say that it would be the same for someone else.

I've had hypertension for years and was put on atenolol first. I'm on a different drug now but there were countless times where I had a bottle or two of beer or a glass of red wine while I was on the medication. The only side effect I had was that I seemed to get tipsy a little faster than usual but I didn't get any other side effects.

Like I said though, I wouldn't advise anyone else to do this. Everyone should check with their doctor or pharmacist about this.

By candyquilt — On Oct 04, 2012

Well actually, drinking alcohol while taking atenolol will stop the medicine from doing its job to some degree. Alcohol raises blood pressure so if you combine it with atenolol, it will make it harder for the medicine to do its job. Blood pressure will not go as low as it would if the person hadn't drank any alcohol.

It doesn't really make sense to take these together in my opinion.

On this page
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.