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Alcohol and Medications

Alcohol and Steroids: The Dangers of Mixing

October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
October 26, 2023
8 min read

Ah, Friday evening! The work week is finally over and the weekend lies ahead. You've got your comfy sweatpants on, your favorite Netflix series queued up, and nothing to do but relax. So, what’s on the menu? Maybe a cold beer or two? Or perhaps a glass of red wine to wind down? But wait ... There’s another element to this cozy picture: your daily medication, a little something known as prednisone. You're one of the many people who rely on this common corticosteroid for managing conditions ranging from arthritis to asthma. What will mixing these two do? And what are the side effects? Let’s dive in and find out!

All About Steroids

An incredibly versatile medication, prednisone is used in the treatment of a wide range of diseases. This corticosteroid is often prescribed for a variety of ailments due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and immune system suppressing properties. For example, it helps with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions that cause the body's immune system to mistakenly attack its own tissues. It's also used in asthma, allergies, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Think of it as a superhero swooping in to calm things down when your body's systems get a bit overzealous.

This wonder-drug doesn't stop there. It plays a crucial role in preventing organ rejection in transplant patients and is used as part of chemotherapy protocols for certain types of cancers. With its ability to suppress the immune response, it can be a lifesaver in severe cases of COVID-19, helping to prevent a harmful overreaction of the immune system known as a cytokine storm.

Steroid Side Effects

But every superhero has its kryptonite, and for prednisone, it's the potential for side effects, including insomnia, mood swings, weight gain, and increased blood sugar levels. Long-term prednisone use can cause osteoporosis (bone density loss), glaucoma, and an increased risk of infections due to its immunosuppressive action.

Despite these potential side effects, prednisone is still a valuable tool in the medical arsenal: it starts working quickly and very effectively, often right off the bat. Doctors always weigh the benefits against the potential risks before prescribing prednisone, and the dosage is carefully adjusted to the lowest effective dose to keep side effects to a minimum.

The Interaction of Alcohol and Steroids: A Molotov Cocktail?

Mixing alcohol and steroids is kind of like mixing your favorite chocolate chip cookies with jalapenos — a bizarre combo that might not go down so well.

First, both alcohol and prednisone are processed in the liver, the body's dedicated chemical processing plant. Mixing them gives your liver extra work. It's like asking someone to clean the house while they're also trying to make dinner: it's doable, but not ideal.

Second, both substances can have similar side effects, including sleep problems, increased blood sugar levels, and mood swings. Combine them, and these effects can become more pronounced.

So when can you start drinking after taking steroids? It depends on your body chemistry and the way your system reacts to both substances. Always best to check with your doctor to be sure!

Long-Term Risks of Drinking on Corticosteroids

Lastly, long-term use of alcohol and prednisone can lead to severe problems like liver damage, a weakened immune system, and osteoporosis. The risk is especially high for women, older adults, and anyone with diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, digestive issues, or a weakened immune system.

Diagram about the side effects of mixing alcohol with steroids

The Road Ahead

Okay, so maybe you're now thinking twice about that steroid-alcohol combo. You might be considering cutting back or quitting altogether. But, we all know change is hard, especially when it comes to habits that feel comforting or rewarding. So where do you start?

  • Consult your doctor. They know your health status best. Ask them about the risks of combining alcohol with your specific dosage of prednisone.
  • Set clear goals. Decide how many days a week you want to be alcohol-free. Be specific, realistic, and write it down.
  • Find alternative drinks. Fancy a drink that doesn't contain alcohol? Try non-alcoholic beers, mocktails, or just a simple soda with a splash of lime.
  • Create new rituals. If your Friday night involves a drink, replace it with a different relaxing activity. How about a walk after dinner, a yoga session, or a new movie?
  • Build a support network. Share your goals with family and friends. They can help you stay motivated and keep you accountable.
  • Reward progress. Every alcohol-free day is a win. Celebrate these small victories with a treat: a new book, a favorite meal, or even just an extra half-hour of sleep.
  • Be kind to yourself. Change isn't linear, and there may be bumps in the road. If you have a setback, don't beat yourself up. Instead, remind yourself of why you started this journey, and pick up where you left off.

Our health always deserves our attention and care. By understanding the effects of alcohol and steroids on your body, learning about the potential risks of drinking on corticosteroids, and making conscious choices, you can enjoy your Friday evenings in a way that leaves you feeling great. Here’s to the weekend — and a healthier, happier you!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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