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Alcohol and Health

Should I Drink Alcohol If I Have Lupus?

August 11, 2023
11 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.
August 11, 2023
11 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.
August 11, 2023
11 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.
August 11, 2023
11 min read
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Reframe Content Team
August 11, 2023
11 min read

When you hear the word lupus, what's the first image that comes to mind? Maybe a celebrity who's openly talked about this autoimmune disease, or perhaps a friend or family member who juggles life with the condition. Or, maybe it’s you! 

Your daily habits — including how much you drink — can have a big impact on your lupus. So is it wise to join the clinking glasses, or is it time to set the glass down and consider a different choice? Can you drink alcohol if you have lupus? And if you choose to do so, what are some healthy tips on drinking with lupus? Finally, what about lupus medication and alcohol — is it safe to mix them? Let’s find out!

Living With Lupus

The term "lupus" is Latin for "wolf." What possible association with the condition do wolves have? The name is believed to have originated from the rash that many patients experience, which some thought resembled a wolf's bite or scratch. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that results from the immune system getting confused and attacking the body. 

Lupus is a chronic condition that can affect various parts of the body, including joints, skin, kidneys, and other organs. Its exact cause remains a mystery, but genetics, environment, and even some medications can all play a role in triggering it.

There's no one-size-fits-all magic pill for lupus. Treatment varies, and it’s often tailored to individual needs. Some patients might be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs or immunosuppressants, while others find antimalarials more helpful. It's all about controlling symptoms and preventing flare-ups.

Living with lupus also has emotional and psychological facets. The unpredictability of flare-ups can take a mental toll and play tug-of-war with daily routines, making simple tasks like grocery shopping or catching up with friends a potential challenge. All in all, coping with lupus, like coping with any chronic condition, requires a blend of resilience, adaptability, and outside support.

Lupus and Alcohol: The Connection

What happens if we add booze to the mix? Can you drink alcohol if you have lupus? And what about lupus medication and alcohol? Here’s the crux of the relationship between lupus and alcohol:

  • Lupus medication and alcohol. Many lupus patients take medications to manage their symptoms. Alcohol may throw off the delicate chemical balance by interfering with them. It can either enhance or reduce the effect of the drugs, leading to potential health issues. As alcohol interacts with medications, it can also cause or exacerbate side effects.
  • Liver load. Our hard-working liver constantly processes what we eat and drink. Alcohol demands extra attention from the liver, and with lupus, that might just be too much to ask. As a toxin, alcohol gets processed by the liver first, before nutritious food that our body needs for its struggle with lupus.
  • Flare-ups and symptoms. Drinking alcohol might cause flare-ups in some lupus patients. It's like adding fuel to a fire that's already burning, igniting symptoms that were otherwise under control.

That said, the unique nature of lupus means that each person's experience with alcohol may differ. Some may tolerate it well, while others may experience increased symptoms.

Diagram about the connection between alcohol and lupus

So, Can You Drink Alcohol If You Have Lupus?

Here are some healthy tips on drinking with lupus — as well as things you can do if you're thinking about quitting or cutting back on alcohol.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider. Your doctor knows your condition best. A friendly chat can provide insights tailored just for you.
  • Know your body. You're the CEO of your body, and nobody knows it better than you do. Pay attention to how your body reacts and make decisions accordingly. If you do decide to drink, keep track of how your body responds.
  • Optimize your diet. Some lupus patients find that certain foods can trigger or worsen their symptoms. It might be worth keeping a food diary to pinpoint any correlations between what you eat and any subsequent flare-ups. Limit processed foods — these can contribute to inflammation and might exacerbate lupus symptoms. Instead, focus on whole foods in their natural state and make sure each meal has a good balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This balance can keep energy levels steady and support overall health.

    Inflammation is a key player in lupus. Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods, such as oily fish (salmon or mackerel are excellent choices), nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Turmeric and ginger can also be great additions.
  • Create a drinking plan. Having a chronic condition like lupus often means learning to adapt and being proactive in various aspects of life, especially when it comes to alcohol. Crafting a personalized plan not only instills a sense of direction, but also provides a tangible guide to ensure that your health remains a top priority. 

    Start by setting crystal clear goals. Do you want to cut back on alcohol or quit entirely? Quantify it if you can, such as "I will limit myself to one drink per week" or "I aim to be alcohol-free for 30 days." After defining your goals, write them down and keep them where you can see them every day.

    If you're attending an event where alcohol will be present, strategize beforehand. This could mean planning to have a non-alcoholic drink in hand or preparing a polite response if offered a drink.
  • Choose alternatives. Who says a toast needs alcohol? There's a whole world of non-alcoholic beverages waiting to be discovered. Sparkling water with a twist of lemon, anyone? Explore and enjoy!
  • Connect with support groups. A little encouragement can go a long way. You don’t have to look far — online platforms have become the modern-day community centers where people come together, bound not by geographical locations, but by shared concerns and experiences. These platforms range from discussion boards to Facebook groups and other social media groups. 

    For example, the Lupus Foundation of America’s Online Community provides a space where people affected by lupus can connect, share personal experiences, and learn from one another. 

    Blogs offer a more personal touch by letting you become a part of another lupus warrior’s journey as they share updates, offer advice, or simply muse about daily life with lupus. For example, Despite Lupus — a blog by Sara Gorman — chronicles her life with lupus, offering readers a blend of personal anecdotes, coping mechanisms, and even some humor! LupusChick, founded by Marisa Zeppieri, is a mix of a personal blog and a broader platform, offering resources, personal stories, and advice on dealing with lupus.

Cheers to understanding, making wise choices, and prioritizing your health! Whether it's a toast with champagne or a high-five with a cup of herbal tea, let's make decisions that put our well-being first and remember the healthy tips on drinking with lupus!

Ready To Take Charge of Your Health? Start Your Journey With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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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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