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Is It Safe to Combine Methylprednisolone and Alcohol?

By Jodee Redmond
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Most health and medical experts agree that it is not safe to combine methylprednisolone and alcohol. Alcohol is a toxin that, when consumed, puts stress on the liver and kidneys, among other things. Most medicines also stress these same organs, so to a certain extent it can be harmful to combine any medication with alcohol. This is particularly true where methylprednisolone is concerned, though. Methylprednisolone is a steroid designed to reduce inflammation, and often irritates the stomach lining as it works to do its job. Combining it with alcohol can not only overwhelm the body’s filtration organs, but can also lead to serious gastrointestinal issues and erosion of the stomach and intestinal walls over time. Medical experts typically also advise people taking this drug to stay away from aspirin and aspirin-containing products for similar reasons.

Drug Basics

Methylprednisolone is a powerful medication that can be used to treat a range of different things, though it tends to be most common in the fight against conditions that cause inflammation. Arthritis, chronic asthma, and lupus are just some examples. It’s important for people who have been prescribed methylprednisolone to take the medication exactly as prescribed. It is likely to cause stomach upset, and many people find that it is helpful to take it with milk or food as a consequence. It’s usually also important to continue taking the entire prescribed course, since stopping midway through can have damaging consequences.

The drug basically works by inhibiting the body’s absorption of certain irritants and allergens, and blocks selective nerve signals from progressing at inflammation sites. This means that it works well for many patients, but it can also cause some pretty negative effects when combined with other stimulants like alcohol. The drug can sometimes work to block the absorption of alcohol, which can lead to digestive troubles; in other cases, the alcohol can so aggravate the initial inflammation that the drug becomes essentially ineffective.

Understanding an Alcohol Interaction

Different people have different tolerance levels for alcohol, but it’s metabolized and absorbed in more or less the same way for everyone. The body typically recognizes it as a toxin and as such it is normally filtered through the liver before going on to the stomach and small intestine for processing. From here it enters the bloodstream and ultimately processes out through the kidney.

People who drink in moderation, normally defined as no more than two drinks a day, don’t usually experience many problems. Negative consequences can appear in the presence of other toxins and foreign compounds that compete for absorption energy, though, including most prescription drugs. Heavy drinkers often suffer the most substantially.

Compounding Effects of Aspirin

Using methylprednisolone and alcohol is not the only potential pitfall patients need to keep in mind. Many over-the-counter pain relief products and antihistamines can cause similar problems, perhaps none more so than aspirin. A number of people, including many older adults, have a habit of taking a daily aspirin each day to promote heart health and basic functioning. Most medical experts actually recommend this — but not in the presence of metheylprednisolone. Aspirin can irritate the stomach and since the steroid increases the risk of stomach ulcers, patients can and often do make their symptoms worse when they take the two together. Along these lines, the combination of methylprednisolone and alcohol along with an irritant like aspirin can lead to quick and irreparable damage to the patient’s stomach and intestinal tract.

Other Risks and Precautions

Methylprednisolone can be an effective treatment option for many patients, but it’s not without its risks. Side effects unrelated to alcohol use include restlessness, anxiety and depression. Anyone who is taking this medication and starts experiencing these symptoms should usually let his or her doctor know right away, particularly if the symptoms persist or seem to be getting worse with time.

Of course, it’s also important for anyone who drinks heavily to talk with the prescribing doctor before starting treatment. Healthcare experts usually ask about alcohol habits before determining which pharmaceutical to give to a patient, but it’s also really important for patients to be honest. Patients who think they may have a problem with alcohol abuse or who don’t think that they can give up drinking for the amount of time they need to be on this medication should be forthright about this, and may also benefit from counseling or other help.

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Discussion Comments
By pleonasm — On Dec 23, 2012

@Mor - Methylprednisolone is a pretty serious drug, actually, so you need to be extremely careful while taking it. If you don't take the whole course, for example, it can actually kill you, because there's a kind of tapering off they do in dosage at the end in case you have a bad reaction.

My grandmother was on it for arthritis for a while, so they made sure the whole family knew what the dangers were so we could watch out for her.

By Mor — On Dec 22, 2012

It's really important to make sure you know what the dangers of the medication you're on are. I've noticed they don't always volunteer all of them at the doctor's or the pharmacy, so I always try to ask and then I usually double check on Wikipedia to make sure.

They usually have it listed on there, with all the foods you can't have with it and why, and what side effects to expect.

I've had bad reactions with drugs before and I prefer to be on them as little as possible, so I always try to follow the instructions to the letter.

By donasmrs — On Dec 21, 2012

@literally45-- I work at the ER and I remember once we had someone come in due to methylprednisolone and alcohol interaction. His blood pressure was high and he was having heart palpitations as well. So it's really not a good idea to mix these two.

Methylprednisolone interacts with a lot of stuff. Most medications do interact with alcohol and should generally be avoided but methylprednisolone can even interact with grapefruit.

Methylprednisolone makes the digestive system so sensitive that even foods and non-alcoholic drinks that would normally be fine can cause negative symptoms. It's best to avoid acidic and spicy foods while on this medicine, as well as smoking and drinking.

By turquoise — On Dec 20, 2012

@literally45-- Absolutely not.

Alcohol doesn't just irritate the stomach and counteract with methylprednisolone, but it also makes this steroid's side effects worse.

What this means is that while you might not have experienced much side effects until now, you can experience them if you combine this steroid with alcohol. It's an unnecessary risk. You should just avoid alcohol until your treatment is over.

By literally45 — On Dec 19, 2012

I'm on methylprednisolone and it hasn't irritated my stomach or made it more sensitive so far. Does this mean that I might be able to tolerate some alcohol while on this medication?

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