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2023-06-28 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Popular
Can You Drink Alcohol If You Have an Autoimmune Disease?
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Navigating the world of autoimmune diseases and alcohol is tricky, but science shows that the increase in inflammation spells trouble for conditions such as Lupus, psoriasis, Celiac disease, MS, and Type 1 Diabetes.

19 min read

Take Care of Your Mind and Body 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 today! 

Read Full Article  →

It’s Friday night. Ah, the magical allure of the weekend after a long work week! You're sitting in your cozy home, finally unwinding, staring at that inviting bottle of your favorite cabernet. But there's a tiny voice whispering at the back of your mind: “What about that autoimmune disease?” Can you really partake? While it’s always a good idea to check with a healthcare provider first, there are some common patterns when it comes to alcohol and autoimmune diseases. Let’s find out more!

The Invisible Battle

Let's begin by understanding autoimmune diseases. These conditions flare up when our immune system — usually our trusty guardian against viruses and bacteria — gets a little confused. It mistakes our healthy cells for foreign invaders and attacks them accordingly. It’s as if the trusty guard dog suddenly sees the mail carrier as an intruder!

There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Some, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect many parts of the body. Others, such as type 1 diabetes and psoriasis, are more specific. Managing these diseases often requires a careful balancing act of lifestyle, diet, medication, and yes — our Friday night libations.

Alcohol: Friend or Foe?

Autoimmune diseases thrive on inflammation. Here's where it gets tricky. Alcohol, in moderate amounts, can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Sounds good, right? Not so fast! Remember, the key word here is "moderate.” Higher amounts of alcohol consumption can lead to chronic inflammation, exacerbating autoimmune diseases.

It's also important to remember that many autoimmune diseases have organ-specific effects. For example, in autoimmune liver disease, consuming alcohol can cause more harm, accelerating liver damage. Similarly, autoimmune diseases that affect the digestive system — such as Crohn's or celiac disease — don’t mix well with alcohol, which can irritate the digestive tract.

In a nutshell, while a glass of wine might not spell disaster for everyone with an autoimmune disease, the effects of alcohol can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the autoimmune disease, the amount and frequency of alcohol intake, and individual genetic factors.

1: The Rheumatoid Arthritis Rollercoaster

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) isn’t your average joint pain. In this chronic autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling, and pain. Over time, it can damage joints and even cause joint deformity. RA can also affect other parts of the body including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

Here are some common symptoms of RA:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness that is often worse in the mornings and after inactivity
  • Fatigue, fever, and weight loss

So, where does alcohol fit into the RA picture? There’s good news here: research shows that moderate alcohol consumption won’t increase symptoms for those who already have the disease. But again, the key word is “moderate” — so no more than one drink in a sitting for women and no more than two drinks for men, according to the CDC’s definition of moderate drinking.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

In spite of the low risk associated with moderate drinking and RA, alcohol can interfere with medications commonly used to treat it, such as methotrexate. Mixing alcohol and RA medications can heighten the risk of liver problems and diminish the medication's effectiveness.

Moreover, while alcohol might be anti-inflammatory, it can also cause dehydration which might exacerbate RA symptoms.

2: Lupus and Alcohol: Navigating the Waters

First things first, what is lupus? Like other autoimmune diseases, lupus develops when the immune system turns against parts of the body it's designed to protect, leading to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Think of it like an overeager security system that's a bit too enthusiastic, mistaking friendly visitors (the body's cells) for intruders.

Lupus can be a bit of a chameleon, presenting a range of symptoms that often mimic other ailments. Lupus has some common indicators:

  • Fatigue and fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose
  • Skin lesions that worsen with sun exposure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes

How does alcohol play with lupus? Can you drink with lupus? Alcohol and lupus together is kind of a mixed bag. The main concern is that alcohol can interact negatively with medications that are often prescribed to treat lupus, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarials, and corticosteroids. Combining alcohol with these medications can increase the risk of liver complications and stomach bleeding. Alcohol can also amplify the side effects of these meds, making us feel more tired or dizzy.

Does alcohol cause joint inflammation? Alcohol can exacerbate lupus-related skin flares, especially for someone who is sensitive. Plus, alcohol may exacerbate symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain, adding fuel to the lupus fire.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

The lupus-alcohol equation isn't one-size-fits-all. It's about knowledge, understanding your body, and making choices that support your well-being.

3. Multiple Sclerosis and Alcohol: Decoding the Connection


Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Once again, the body's defense system gets a bit too overzealous. In this case, it starts damaging the protective covering of nerve fibers (called myelin), leading to communication issues between the brain and the rest of the body.

MS can also lead to a range of symptoms that differ from person to person, but these are some common signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
  • Electric-shock sensations with neck movement
  • Tremors, unsteady gait
  • Vision problems, including double vision or partial vision loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness

When it comes to MS and alcohol, things can get tricky. MS already stirs up issues with balance and coordination, and — as we all know — alcohol does, too. Plus, alcohol may not play nice with certain MS medications, so that's another hurdle to watch out for.

The Verdict: More Foe Than Friend

Moderate alcohol consumption does not appear to increase the risk of developing MS, nor does it seem to influence disease progression. However, the keyword here, once again, is "moderate." Binge drinking or consistent heavy drinking can have adverse effects on anyone's health, and with MS, the risks might be even more pronounced.

4. Psoriasis and Alcohol: Peeling Back the Layers

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition caused by accelerated skin cell growth, which causes thick, red, scaly patches to form on the skin. These patches can be itchy and sometimes painful. Imagine the skin's production line going into overdrive, causing a pile-up of cells on the surface. That is psoriasis in action.

Psoriasis can manifest in various forms, but here are some common signs:

  • Red patches covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Itchy, burning, or sore skin
  • Cracked, possibly bleeding skin
  • Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
  • Swollen, stiff joints (a sign of psoriatic arthritis)

Alcohol and psoriasis can be a tricky combination. Excessive alcohol consumption is known to trigger psoriasis outbreaks for some people. It can also interfere with the body's ability to process and eliminate medications used to treat psoriasis, rendering them less effective.

Moreover, alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin, possibly making psoriasis symptoms worse. And, in some cases, alcohol has been known to have an inflammatory effect which may potentially flare up psoriasis patches.

The Verdict: Mostly Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can trigger psoriasis flares and worsen symptoms. That’s why it’s essential for those living with this condition to drink mindfully and consider healthier options such as mocktails.

5. Type 1 Diabetes and Alcohol: Playing With Fire

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking and destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin allows glucose (sugar) from our food to enter our cells and provide energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes has some hallmark symptoms:

  • Frequent urination and excessive thirst
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Mood swings

What happens when type 1 diabetes and alcohol mix? This is a pairing that needs careful attention.

Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to release glucose, increasing the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for those with type 1 diabetes. While it might initially elevate blood sugar, it can drop later on, especially if we’re taking insulin or other diabetes medications.

Additionally, many alcoholic beverages, especially cocktails, contain sugars and carbs that can spike blood sugar levels. It's essential to factor in these carbs as part of our overall daily intake.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can sometimes mirror the effects of too much alcohol: dizziness, disorientation, and sleepiness. This can make it challenging for those around us to distinguish between intoxication and a medical emergency.

When navigating the alcohol-diabetes combo, keep these points in mind:

  • Stay informed. Know how alcohol affects your blood sugar levels. Monitor it before drinking, while you drink, and for up to 24 hours after drinking.
  • Count your carbs. If your drink has carbohydrates, ensure you account for them in your daily carb count.
  • Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. This can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Opt for a balanced meal or snack beforehand.
  • Keep your company informed. Make sure someone you're with knows you have diabetes and understands the risk of hypoglycemia.
The Verdict: Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can mess with blood sugar and be potentially dangerous for those living with type 1 diabetes. Always consult with a healthcare provider, such as an endocrinologist, before imbibing when living with this condition.

6. Celiac Disease and Alcohol: Sifting Through the Details

Finally, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — that leads to damage in the small intestine when ingested by those who are sensitive to it. The body misinterprets gluten as a harmful invader and prompts the immune system to attack the inner lining of the small intestine, disrupting the absorption of vital nutrients.

Celiac can be a bit sneaky, presenting a wide array of symptoms. These are some of the common signs to look out for:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Skin rashes
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches and migraines

Where does alcohol stand in the world of celiac disease? Here’s the scoop.

The primary concern with celiac disease and alcohol is the source of the alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages, including beers, ales, lagers, malt beverages, and even some hard ciders, contain gluten. Consuming these would be a no-go for someone with celiac disease.

However, pure distilled spirits, even if they're made from wheat, barley, or rye, are considered gluten-free due to the distillation process. This means spirits like vodka, gin, and whiskey might be safe. Similarly, wines and some ciders are naturally gluten-free and safe for most people with celiac disease. But always read labels or check with manufacturers when in doubt.

The Verdict: Not Necessarily a Friend, But Not a Serious Foe

Considering a drink and living with celiac disease? Here's the mantra: be informed and vigilant. Not all alcoholic beverages will label their gluten content, so doing a bit of homework might be necessary. Additionally, always listen to your body; even gluten-free options might not sit well with everyone.

Diagram about the common autoimmune diseases

So … Can You Drink Alcohol With an Autoimmune Disease?

Well, as you can see, there's really no one-size-fits-all answer here. It all depends on the specific autoimmune disease, your overall health, and the type and amount of alcohol consumed. It’s essential to talk to professionals and take all these factors into consideration to make an informed decision.

Stepping Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

As you figure out how alcohol fits into your life — and whether or not it’s ultimately a no-go because of your autoimmune disease — here are some practical steps to navigate this journey:

  • Dialogue with your doctor. Discuss your questions with your healthcare provider, who can provide tailored advice based on your specific condition and treatment plan.
  • Mindful moderation. If given the green light, remember that moderation is key. The CDC defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Healthy substitutes. Explore non-alcoholic beverages that can still make your evening special. Herbal tea, fruit-infused water, or fancy mocktails can be refreshing alternatives.
  • Support system. Connect with friends, family, or support groups who understand your journey. Shared experiences and understanding make our lives sparkle.
  • Holistic health. Incorporate a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management into your routine. Health is all about balance and teamwork: there are lots of moving parts, and it’s up to us to figure out how to best fit them together.

Listening to the Body

All in all, understanding the interaction between autoimmune diseases and alcohol can be tricky, but ultimately it comes down to understanding your body’s unique needs. It requires patience, discernment, and an appreciation for the nuances. And remember —you're not alone!

Whether we're raising a glass of bubbly or a cup of herbal tea, let's toast to knowledge, health, and the confidence to make the best choices for our wellness.

It’s Friday night. Ah, the magical allure of the weekend after a long work week! You're sitting in your cozy home, finally unwinding, staring at that inviting bottle of your favorite cabernet. But there's a tiny voice whispering at the back of your mind: “What about that autoimmune disease?” Can you really partake? While it’s always a good idea to check with a healthcare provider first, there are some common patterns when it comes to alcohol and autoimmune diseases. Let’s find out more!

The Invisible Battle

Let's begin by understanding autoimmune diseases. These conditions flare up when our immune system — usually our trusty guardian against viruses and bacteria — gets a little confused. It mistakes our healthy cells for foreign invaders and attacks them accordingly. It’s as if the trusty guard dog suddenly sees the mail carrier as an intruder!

There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Some, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect many parts of the body. Others, such as type 1 diabetes and psoriasis, are more specific. Managing these diseases often requires a careful balancing act of lifestyle, diet, medication, and yes — our Friday night libations.

Alcohol: Friend or Foe?

Autoimmune diseases thrive on inflammation. Here's where it gets tricky. Alcohol, in moderate amounts, can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Sounds good, right? Not so fast! Remember, the key word here is "moderate.” Higher amounts of alcohol consumption can lead to chronic inflammation, exacerbating autoimmune diseases.

It's also important to remember that many autoimmune diseases have organ-specific effects. For example, in autoimmune liver disease, consuming alcohol can cause more harm, accelerating liver damage. Similarly, autoimmune diseases that affect the digestive system — such as Crohn's or celiac disease — don’t mix well with alcohol, which can irritate the digestive tract.

In a nutshell, while a glass of wine might not spell disaster for everyone with an autoimmune disease, the effects of alcohol can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the autoimmune disease, the amount and frequency of alcohol intake, and individual genetic factors.

1: The Rheumatoid Arthritis Rollercoaster

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) isn’t your average joint pain. In this chronic autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling, and pain. Over time, it can damage joints and even cause joint deformity. RA can also affect other parts of the body including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

Here are some common symptoms of RA:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness that is often worse in the mornings and after inactivity
  • Fatigue, fever, and weight loss

So, where does alcohol fit into the RA picture? There’s good news here: research shows that moderate alcohol consumption won’t increase symptoms for those who already have the disease. But again, the key word is “moderate” — so no more than one drink in a sitting for women and no more than two drinks for men, according to the CDC’s definition of moderate drinking.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

In spite of the low risk associated with moderate drinking and RA, alcohol can interfere with medications commonly used to treat it, such as methotrexate. Mixing alcohol and RA medications can heighten the risk of liver problems and diminish the medication's effectiveness.

Moreover, while alcohol might be anti-inflammatory, it can also cause dehydration which might exacerbate RA symptoms.

2: Lupus and Alcohol: Navigating the Waters

First things first, what is lupus? Like other autoimmune diseases, lupus develops when the immune system turns against parts of the body it's designed to protect, leading to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Think of it like an overeager security system that's a bit too enthusiastic, mistaking friendly visitors (the body's cells) for intruders.

Lupus can be a bit of a chameleon, presenting a range of symptoms that often mimic other ailments. Lupus has some common indicators:

  • Fatigue and fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose
  • Skin lesions that worsen with sun exposure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes

How does alcohol play with lupus? Can you drink with lupus? Alcohol and lupus together is kind of a mixed bag. The main concern is that alcohol can interact negatively with medications that are often prescribed to treat lupus, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarials, and corticosteroids. Combining alcohol with these medications can increase the risk of liver complications and stomach bleeding. Alcohol can also amplify the side effects of these meds, making us feel more tired or dizzy.

Does alcohol cause joint inflammation? Alcohol can exacerbate lupus-related skin flares, especially for someone who is sensitive. Plus, alcohol may exacerbate symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain, adding fuel to the lupus fire.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

The lupus-alcohol equation isn't one-size-fits-all. It's about knowledge, understanding your body, and making choices that support your well-being.

3. Multiple Sclerosis and Alcohol: Decoding the Connection


Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Once again, the body's defense system gets a bit too overzealous. In this case, it starts damaging the protective covering of nerve fibers (called myelin), leading to communication issues between the brain and the rest of the body.

MS can also lead to a range of symptoms that differ from person to person, but these are some common signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
  • Electric-shock sensations with neck movement
  • Tremors, unsteady gait
  • Vision problems, including double vision or partial vision loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness

When it comes to MS and alcohol, things can get tricky. MS already stirs up issues with balance and coordination, and — as we all know — alcohol does, too. Plus, alcohol may not play nice with certain MS medications, so that's another hurdle to watch out for.

The Verdict: More Foe Than Friend

Moderate alcohol consumption does not appear to increase the risk of developing MS, nor does it seem to influence disease progression. However, the keyword here, once again, is "moderate." Binge drinking or consistent heavy drinking can have adverse effects on anyone's health, and with MS, the risks might be even more pronounced.

4. Psoriasis and Alcohol: Peeling Back the Layers

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition caused by accelerated skin cell growth, which causes thick, red, scaly patches to form on the skin. These patches can be itchy and sometimes painful. Imagine the skin's production line going into overdrive, causing a pile-up of cells on the surface. That is psoriasis in action.

Psoriasis can manifest in various forms, but here are some common signs:

  • Red patches covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Itchy, burning, or sore skin
  • Cracked, possibly bleeding skin
  • Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
  • Swollen, stiff joints (a sign of psoriatic arthritis)

Alcohol and psoriasis can be a tricky combination. Excessive alcohol consumption is known to trigger psoriasis outbreaks for some people. It can also interfere with the body's ability to process and eliminate medications used to treat psoriasis, rendering them less effective.

Moreover, alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin, possibly making psoriasis symptoms worse. And, in some cases, alcohol has been known to have an inflammatory effect which may potentially flare up psoriasis patches.

The Verdict: Mostly Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can trigger psoriasis flares and worsen symptoms. That’s why it’s essential for those living with this condition to drink mindfully and consider healthier options such as mocktails.

5. Type 1 Diabetes and Alcohol: Playing With Fire

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking and destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin allows glucose (sugar) from our food to enter our cells and provide energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes has some hallmark symptoms:

  • Frequent urination and excessive thirst
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Mood swings

What happens when type 1 diabetes and alcohol mix? This is a pairing that needs careful attention.

Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to release glucose, increasing the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for those with type 1 diabetes. While it might initially elevate blood sugar, it can drop later on, especially if we’re taking insulin or other diabetes medications.

Additionally, many alcoholic beverages, especially cocktails, contain sugars and carbs that can spike blood sugar levels. It's essential to factor in these carbs as part of our overall daily intake.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can sometimes mirror the effects of too much alcohol: dizziness, disorientation, and sleepiness. This can make it challenging for those around us to distinguish between intoxication and a medical emergency.

When navigating the alcohol-diabetes combo, keep these points in mind:

  • Stay informed. Know how alcohol affects your blood sugar levels. Monitor it before drinking, while you drink, and for up to 24 hours after drinking.
  • Count your carbs. If your drink has carbohydrates, ensure you account for them in your daily carb count.
  • Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. This can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Opt for a balanced meal or snack beforehand.
  • Keep your company informed. Make sure someone you're with knows you have diabetes and understands the risk of hypoglycemia.
The Verdict: Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can mess with blood sugar and be potentially dangerous for those living with type 1 diabetes. Always consult with a healthcare provider, such as an endocrinologist, before imbibing when living with this condition.

6. Celiac Disease and Alcohol: Sifting Through the Details

Finally, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — that leads to damage in the small intestine when ingested by those who are sensitive to it. The body misinterprets gluten as a harmful invader and prompts the immune system to attack the inner lining of the small intestine, disrupting the absorption of vital nutrients.

Celiac can be a bit sneaky, presenting a wide array of symptoms. These are some of the common signs to look out for:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Skin rashes
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches and migraines

Where does alcohol stand in the world of celiac disease? Here’s the scoop.

The primary concern with celiac disease and alcohol is the source of the alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages, including beers, ales, lagers, malt beverages, and even some hard ciders, contain gluten. Consuming these would be a no-go for someone with celiac disease.

However, pure distilled spirits, even if they're made from wheat, barley, or rye, are considered gluten-free due to the distillation process. This means spirits like vodka, gin, and whiskey might be safe. Similarly, wines and some ciders are naturally gluten-free and safe for most people with celiac disease. But always read labels or check with manufacturers when in doubt.

The Verdict: Not Necessarily a Friend, But Not a Serious Foe

Considering a drink and living with celiac disease? Here's the mantra: be informed and vigilant. Not all alcoholic beverages will label their gluten content, so doing a bit of homework might be necessary. Additionally, always listen to your body; even gluten-free options might not sit well with everyone.

Diagram about the common autoimmune diseases

So … Can You Drink Alcohol With an Autoimmune Disease?

Well, as you can see, there's really no one-size-fits-all answer here. It all depends on the specific autoimmune disease, your overall health, and the type and amount of alcohol consumed. It’s essential to talk to professionals and take all these factors into consideration to make an informed decision.

Stepping Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

As you figure out how alcohol fits into your life — and whether or not it’s ultimately a no-go because of your autoimmune disease — here are some practical steps to navigate this journey:

  • Dialogue with your doctor. Discuss your questions with your healthcare provider, who can provide tailored advice based on your specific condition and treatment plan.
  • Mindful moderation. If given the green light, remember that moderation is key. The CDC defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Healthy substitutes. Explore non-alcoholic beverages that can still make your evening special. Herbal tea, fruit-infused water, or fancy mocktails can be refreshing alternatives.
  • Support system. Connect with friends, family, or support groups who understand your journey. Shared experiences and understanding make our lives sparkle.
  • Holistic health. Incorporate a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management into your routine. Health is all about balance and teamwork: there are lots of moving parts, and it’s up to us to figure out how to best fit them together.

Listening to the Body

All in all, understanding the interaction between autoimmune diseases and alcohol can be tricky, but ultimately it comes down to understanding your body’s unique needs. It requires patience, discernment, and an appreciation for the nuances. And remember —you're not alone!

Whether we're raising a glass of bubbly or a cup of herbal tea, let's toast to knowledge, health, and the confidence to make the best choices for our wellness.

Alcohol and Health
Popular
2023-06-02 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Popular
10 Healthy Things That Happen When You Stop Drinking for 30 Days
This is some text inside of a div block.

Wondering what you can expect when you quit drinking for a month? This blog post shares all of the wonderful benefits you can expect!

10 min read

How Can Reframe Help?

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! 

Read Full Article  →

Are you considering taking a break from alcohol consumption, or maybe you've already started your "dry" journey? If so, you're making a great decision for your overall health and well-being! There are many physical and mental benefits of abstaining from alcohol, even if it's just for a short period of time like 30 days. In this article, we'll explore 10 healthy things that happen when you stop drinking for a month, delving into greater detail on how these advantages can positively impact various aspects of your life.

1. Improved Sleep Quality

One of the first things you're likely to notice when you quit drinking is improved sleep quality. Alcohol is a well-known disruptor of sleep patterns, preventing you from getting a full night of restful sleep. Alcohol-induced sleep tends to be lighter and less restorative, with frequent waking throughout the night.

When you stop drinking, your body is better able to regulate its sleep cycles, which in turn helps you reap the benefits of deep, quality sleep. Better sleep means increased energy, improved concentration, and a more positive mood. You're likely to find that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead, rather than struggling with grogginess or fatigue.

2. Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus

Alcohol impairs cognitive function and decreases mental clarity by interfering with the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain. When you're hungover, it's common to feel foggy and have difficulty concentrating. Over time, regular alcohol consumption can even have long-term negative effects on your mental health like making anxiety and depression even worse.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you may notice significantly improved mental function, focus, and memory. This newfound clarity can help you in all aspects of your life, including work performance, decision-making, and building stronger relationships.

3. Increased Energy Levels

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can lead to dehydration and essential nutrient depletion, leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued. By eliminating alcohol from your system, you'll likely experience increased energy levels.

With this newfound energy, you may find it easier to be more productive and active throughout the day. This, in turn, can lead to a more satisfying and well-rounded lifestyle that supports your overall health and well-being.

4. Reduction in Calorie Intake

One of the more immediate benefits of quitting alcohol is a reduction in calorie intake. Alcohol is full of empty calories, meaning it contains no essential nutrients even though it still contributes to your daily caloric intake. For example, a single 12-ounce beer can contain as many as 150 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of wine can have anywhere from 100-150 calories. Add those up and think how many thousands of calories you’ll save in a month!

By eliminating alcohol consumption for 30 days, you can easily reduce your overall calorie intake, which may lead to weight loss, improved body composition, and a healthier overall lifestyle. This reduction can be especially helpful for those looking to shed a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

10 positive health changes when you quit drinking alcohol

5. Improved Immune System Function

Chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to a weakened immune system, putting you at greater risk for illness and infection. Alcohol affects your internal organs’ effectiveness and it inhibits your body's ability to produce white blood cells, which are critical for fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses.

By abstaining from alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your immune system a chance to recover, helping it to better protect your body from illness. The improvement in your immune function can contribute to overall better health and a reduced likelihood of catching common colds or other infections.

6. Better Digestion and Gut Health

Alcohol consumption can have negative effects on your gut health, resulting in gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements. Heavy drinking can lead to irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining, impairing normal digestion.

By cutting out alcohol, you may experience improved digestion and gut health. As your stomach lining heals and inflammation subsides, you'll likely notice a more comfortable and efficient digestive system. In turn, this can lead to better nutrient absorption and overall improved well-being.

7. Healthier Skin

It's no secret that alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your skin. Dehydration and dilated blood vessels can result in skin that appears red, blotchy, and puffy. Additionally, alcohol can cause hormonal imbalances, which can exacerbate acne and other skin issues.

By quitting alcohol for 30 days, you may notice a drastic improvement in your skin's appearance. Better hydration, more balanced hormones, and reduced inflammation can all contribute to a clearer complexion. You might even find that your skin has a natural, healthy glow that was hidden underneath the effects of alcohol.

8. Improved Heart Health

Heavy alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. Alcohol raises blood pressure, which can strain your heart muscle and lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, binge drinking can cause heart palpitations, which further increases the risk of cardiovascular complications.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your heart a break from the stress alcohol puts on it. Lower blood pressure and reduced risk of irregular heartbeat can ultimately contribute to a healthier heart and a lower risk of cardiovascular issues in the future.

9. Positive Lifestyle Changes

By committing to an alcohol-free month, you're opening yourself up to the possibility of incorporating healthier habits into your daily life. For example, with your newfound mental clarity and increased energy levels, you may find it easier to make better choices when it comes to nutrition and exercise. This can lead to a domino effect of positive lifestyle changes that support your overall health.

In addition, you may also find that your social life starts to revolve less around alcohol consumption, which can be a positive change in terms of your relationships and personal well-being. Forming connections and memories without the presence of alcohol can be a transformative experience, building stronger bonds and creating more meaningful relationships.

10. Greater Sense of Well-Being and Self-Control

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of abstaining from alcohol for 30 days is the sense of accomplishment and self-control you're likely to experience. By completing a challenge such as this, you'll prove to yourself that you're capable of making positive changes in your life, ultimately boosting your self-esteem and confidence in your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Recognizing your strength and resilience in the face of temptation can also empower you to make other positive changes in your life, fostering a sense of well-being and personal growth that extends beyond the 30-day challenge.

Are you considering taking a break from alcohol consumption, or maybe you've already started your "dry" journey? If so, you're making a great decision for your overall health and well-being! There are many physical and mental benefits of abstaining from alcohol, even if it's just for a short period of time like 30 days. In this article, we'll explore 10 healthy things that happen when you stop drinking for a month, delving into greater detail on how these advantages can positively impact various aspects of your life.

1. Improved Sleep Quality

One of the first things you're likely to notice when you quit drinking is improved sleep quality. Alcohol is a well-known disruptor of sleep patterns, preventing you from getting a full night of restful sleep. Alcohol-induced sleep tends to be lighter and less restorative, with frequent waking throughout the night.

When you stop drinking, your body is better able to regulate its sleep cycles, which in turn helps you reap the benefits of deep, quality sleep. Better sleep means increased energy, improved concentration, and a more positive mood. You're likely to find that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead, rather than struggling with grogginess or fatigue.

2. Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus

Alcohol impairs cognitive function and decreases mental clarity by interfering with the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain. When you're hungover, it's common to feel foggy and have difficulty concentrating. Over time, regular alcohol consumption can even have long-term negative effects on your mental health like making anxiety and depression even worse.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you may notice significantly improved mental function, focus, and memory. This newfound clarity can help you in all aspects of your life, including work performance, decision-making, and building stronger relationships.

3. Increased Energy Levels

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can lead to dehydration and essential nutrient depletion, leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued. By eliminating alcohol from your system, you'll likely experience increased energy levels.

With this newfound energy, you may find it easier to be more productive and active throughout the day. This, in turn, can lead to a more satisfying and well-rounded lifestyle that supports your overall health and well-being.

4. Reduction in Calorie Intake

One of the more immediate benefits of quitting alcohol is a reduction in calorie intake. Alcohol is full of empty calories, meaning it contains no essential nutrients even though it still contributes to your daily caloric intake. For example, a single 12-ounce beer can contain as many as 150 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of wine can have anywhere from 100-150 calories. Add those up and think how many thousands of calories you’ll save in a month!

By eliminating alcohol consumption for 30 days, you can easily reduce your overall calorie intake, which may lead to weight loss, improved body composition, and a healthier overall lifestyle. This reduction can be especially helpful for those looking to shed a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

10 positive health changes when you quit drinking alcohol

5. Improved Immune System Function

Chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to a weakened immune system, putting you at greater risk for illness and infection. Alcohol affects your internal organs’ effectiveness and it inhibits your body's ability to produce white blood cells, which are critical for fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses.

By abstaining from alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your immune system a chance to recover, helping it to better protect your body from illness. The improvement in your immune function can contribute to overall better health and a reduced likelihood of catching common colds or other infections.

6. Better Digestion and Gut Health

Alcohol consumption can have negative effects on your gut health, resulting in gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements. Heavy drinking can lead to irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining, impairing normal digestion.

By cutting out alcohol, you may experience improved digestion and gut health. As your stomach lining heals and inflammation subsides, you'll likely notice a more comfortable and efficient digestive system. In turn, this can lead to better nutrient absorption and overall improved well-being.

7. Healthier Skin

It's no secret that alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your skin. Dehydration and dilated blood vessels can result in skin that appears red, blotchy, and puffy. Additionally, alcohol can cause hormonal imbalances, which can exacerbate acne and other skin issues.

By quitting alcohol for 30 days, you may notice a drastic improvement in your skin's appearance. Better hydration, more balanced hormones, and reduced inflammation can all contribute to a clearer complexion. You might even find that your skin has a natural, healthy glow that was hidden underneath the effects of alcohol.

8. Improved Heart Health

Heavy alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. Alcohol raises blood pressure, which can strain your heart muscle and lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, binge drinking can cause heart palpitations, which further increases the risk of cardiovascular complications.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your heart a break from the stress alcohol puts on it. Lower blood pressure and reduced risk of irregular heartbeat can ultimately contribute to a healthier heart and a lower risk of cardiovascular issues in the future.

9. Positive Lifestyle Changes

By committing to an alcohol-free month, you're opening yourself up to the possibility of incorporating healthier habits into your daily life. For example, with your newfound mental clarity and increased energy levels, you may find it easier to make better choices when it comes to nutrition and exercise. This can lead to a domino effect of positive lifestyle changes that support your overall health.

In addition, you may also find that your social life starts to revolve less around alcohol consumption, which can be a positive change in terms of your relationships and personal well-being. Forming connections and memories without the presence of alcohol can be a transformative experience, building stronger bonds and creating more meaningful relationships.

10. Greater Sense of Well-Being and Self-Control

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of abstaining from alcohol for 30 days is the sense of accomplishment and self-control you're likely to experience. By completing a challenge such as this, you'll prove to yourself that you're capable of making positive changes in your life, ultimately boosting your self-esteem and confidence in your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Recognizing your strength and resilience in the face of temptation can also empower you to make other positive changes in your life, fostering a sense of well-being and personal growth that extends beyond the 30-day challenge.

Alcohol and Health
Popular
2022-06-13 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Popular
Alcohol-Induced Night Sweats: What They Are and How To Stop Them
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Night sweats after drinking: they happen to many of us, but they can be frustrating. So why does drinking alcohol cause night sweats? And what can we do about them? Let’s take a look at the science.

17 min read

Improve Your Overall Well-Being 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! 

Read Full Article  →

Alcohol has many adverse effects on our bodies and minds. There are the short-term discomforts like hangovers and “hangxiety,” as well as long-term effects on our physical and mental health. Today, we're discussing an issue that falls somewhere between the two: night sweats related to alcohol use.

How does alcohol use lead to night sweats? And what steps can be taken to prevent them? In this post, we’ll explore the causes of night sweats related to alcohol use and discuss how cutting back on or quitting alcohol can help.

What Are Night Sweats?

First, let's define night sweats. Night sweats are episodes of excessive sweating that occur during sleep, often leading to damp or soaked sheets and clothing. While occasional night sweats are normal, persistent night sweats can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or lifestyle factor, such as sweating at night after drinking.

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, leading to a range of physical and psychological effects. When we consume alcohol, it can cause our bodies to become dehydrated, leading to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. These effects can contribute to night sweats, as our bodies attempt to regulate our temperature and maintain proper hydration levels during sleep.

In addition to dehydration, alcohol use can also lead to changes in our body's hormones and neurotransmitters, which can impact our sleep patterns and contribute to sweating at night after drinking. For example, alcohol can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can disrupt our sleep and lead to night sweats. It can also decrease the production of the hormone vasopressin, which regulates our body's fluid balance, leading to dehydration and increased thirst.

Night sweats are one of the many signals that we’re drinking too much. If we heed the warning signs early on, we can prevent this issue from persisting or leading to other health challenges.

Diagram about the symptoms of night sweats

What Are the Negative Effects of Alcohol-Induced Night Sweats?

Night sweats related to alcohol use can have negative consequences for both our physical and psychological health. Here are a few of the potential negative consequences of alcohol night sweats:

  • Dehydration. As we mentioned above, alcohol can cause dehydration, which can lead to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. Night sweats can worsen dehydration, leading to further complications such as dry mouth, headache, and fatigue.
  • Disrupted sleep. Night sweats can lead to poor quality sleep and daytime fatigue. This can impact our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and perform everyday tasks.
  • Increased risk of infections. Night sweats can increase the risk of infections, particularly in people with weakened immune systems. This is because the damp sheets and clothing can create a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, increasing the risk of skin infections, respiratory infections, and other illnesses.
  • Emotional distress. Night sweats can be emotionally distressing, particularly if they occur frequently or disrupt our sleep. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological problems.

Preventing Alcohol Night Sweats

So, how can we prevent night sweats related to alcohol use? The most effective solution is to cut back on or quit drinking alcohol altogether. By reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, our bodies can rehydrate, and regulating our fluid balance more effectively, and reducing the likelihood of night sweats.

Deciding to cut back or quit drinking alcohol can be difficult, but it's a powerful step towards improving your physical and mental health. Whether you are looking to reduce your alcohol consumption or quit altogether, there are steps you can take.

Set Clear Goals and Make a Plan

The first step in cutting back or quitting alcohol is to set clear goals and make a plan. This might involve setting limits on the amount and frequency of alcohol you consume, or it could mean committing to abstaining from alcohol altogether. Whatever your goals, it's important to be specific and measurable. For example, instead of saying "I want to drink less," you might set a goal to only have one drink per day, or to go alcohol-free for a month.

Once you have set your goals, make a plan to achieve them. This might involve finding alternative, alcohol-free ways to socialize or manage stress, such as taking up a new hobby or joining a sober social group. You might also consider enlisting the support of friends or family members who can help you stay accountable to your goals.

Find Alternative Coping Strategies

Many people turn to alcohol as a way of coping with stress or difficult emotions. If you’re trying to cut back or quit drinking, it's important to find alternative coping strategies to manage these feelings in a healthy way. This might involve learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, or finding physical activities that release tension and boost your mood, such as yoga or running.

You might also consider seeking support from a mental health professional, who can help you develop coping strategies and address any underlying emotional or psychological issues that may be contributing to your alcohol use. With the right support and strategies in place, you can manage your emotions in a healthy way and reduce your dependence on alcohol.

Create a Supportive Environment

Finally, it's important to create a supportive environment that can help you achieve your goals. This might involve avoiding situations or people that trigger your desire to drink, or finding friends and social groups who are supportive of your decision to cut back or quit drinking. You might also consider finding a support group or seeking counseling to connect with others who are on a similar journey.

In addition to creating a supportive environment, take care of yourself in other ways that can improve your overall health and well-being: get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and practice good sleep hygiene. By taking care of your body and mind, you can reduce the impact of alcohol on your physical and psychological health, and enjoy greater success in cutting back or quitting alcohol.

Alcohol has many adverse effects on our bodies and minds. There are the short-term discomforts like hangovers and “hangxiety,” as well as long-term effects on our physical and mental health. Today, we're discussing an issue that falls somewhere between the two: night sweats related to alcohol use.

How does alcohol use lead to night sweats? And what steps can be taken to prevent them? In this post, we’ll explore the causes of night sweats related to alcohol use and discuss how cutting back on or quitting alcohol can help.

What Are Night Sweats?

First, let's define night sweats. Night sweats are episodes of excessive sweating that occur during sleep, often leading to damp or soaked sheets and clothing. While occasional night sweats are normal, persistent night sweats can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or lifestyle factor, such as sweating at night after drinking.

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, leading to a range of physical and psychological effects. When we consume alcohol, it can cause our bodies to become dehydrated, leading to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. These effects can contribute to night sweats, as our bodies attempt to regulate our temperature and maintain proper hydration levels during sleep.

In addition to dehydration, alcohol use can also lead to changes in our body's hormones and neurotransmitters, which can impact our sleep patterns and contribute to sweating at night after drinking. For example, alcohol can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can disrupt our sleep and lead to night sweats. It can also decrease the production of the hormone vasopressin, which regulates our body's fluid balance, leading to dehydration and increased thirst.

Night sweats are one of the many signals that we’re drinking too much. If we heed the warning signs early on, we can prevent this issue from persisting or leading to other health challenges.

Diagram about the symptoms of night sweats

What Are the Negative Effects of Alcohol-Induced Night Sweats?

Night sweats related to alcohol use can have negative consequences for both our physical and psychological health. Here are a few of the potential negative consequences of alcohol night sweats:

  • Dehydration. As we mentioned above, alcohol can cause dehydration, which can lead to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. Night sweats can worsen dehydration, leading to further complications such as dry mouth, headache, and fatigue.
  • Disrupted sleep. Night sweats can lead to poor quality sleep and daytime fatigue. This can impact our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and perform everyday tasks.
  • Increased risk of infections. Night sweats can increase the risk of infections, particularly in people with weakened immune systems. This is because the damp sheets and clothing can create a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, increasing the risk of skin infections, respiratory infections, and other illnesses.
  • Emotional distress. Night sweats can be emotionally distressing, particularly if they occur frequently or disrupt our sleep. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological problems.

Preventing Alcohol Night Sweats

So, how can we prevent night sweats related to alcohol use? The most effective solution is to cut back on or quit drinking alcohol altogether. By reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, our bodies can rehydrate, and regulating our fluid balance more effectively, and reducing the likelihood of night sweats.

Deciding to cut back or quit drinking alcohol can be difficult, but it's a powerful step towards improving your physical and mental health. Whether you are looking to reduce your alcohol consumption or quit altogether, there are steps you can take.

Set Clear Goals and Make a Plan

The first step in cutting back or quitting alcohol is to set clear goals and make a plan. This might involve setting limits on the amount and frequency of alcohol you consume, or it could mean committing to abstaining from alcohol altogether. Whatever your goals, it's important to be specific and measurable. For example, instead of saying "I want to drink less," you might set a goal to only have one drink per day, or to go alcohol-free for a month.

Once you have set your goals, make a plan to achieve them. This might involve finding alternative, alcohol-free ways to socialize or manage stress, such as taking up a new hobby or joining a sober social group. You might also consider enlisting the support of friends or family members who can help you stay accountable to your goals.

Find Alternative Coping Strategies

Many people turn to alcohol as a way of coping with stress or difficult emotions. If you’re trying to cut back or quit drinking, it's important to find alternative coping strategies to manage these feelings in a healthy way. This might involve learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, or finding physical activities that release tension and boost your mood, such as yoga or running.

You might also consider seeking support from a mental health professional, who can help you develop coping strategies and address any underlying emotional or psychological issues that may be contributing to your alcohol use. With the right support and strategies in place, you can manage your emotions in a healthy way and reduce your dependence on alcohol.

Create a Supportive Environment

Finally, it's important to create a supportive environment that can help you achieve your goals. This might involve avoiding situations or people that trigger your desire to drink, or finding friends and social groups who are supportive of your decision to cut back or quit drinking. You might also consider finding a support group or seeking counseling to connect with others who are on a similar journey.

In addition to creating a supportive environment, take care of yourself in other ways that can improve your overall health and well-being: get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and practice good sleep hygiene. By taking care of your body and mind, you can reduce the impact of alcohol on your physical and psychological health, and enjoy greater success in cutting back or quitting alcohol.

Alcohol and Health
Popular
2024-04-11 9:00
Alcohol and Health
How To Check Liver Function at Home
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At-home liver tests are a convenient option for frequent liver checks. Check out our latest blog for a step-by-step guide on how to check your liver health at home.

18 min read

Show Your Heart Some Love by Quitting or Cutting Back on Alcohol With Reframe!

You’ve come to the right place! 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 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! 

Read Full Article  →

Compared to the beloved brain or the hallowed heart, the liver is no ostentatious organ. It’s fairly easy to ignore, and we don’t have as many health fads reminding us to check on it. 

Fortunately, with the rise of at-home conveniences, it’s now easier than ever to monitor your liver health. You may have seen at-home liver test kits pop up during your search about liver health. So, are you wondering if they really work or what they entail? Let’s walk through our guide to proper liver function and how to test liver health at home.

What Does Our Liver Do?

Located just above our stomach, our liver is the largest solid organ in our body. Our liver is commonly known for its role in metabolizing alcohol but is responsible for so many other primary functions in our body:

  • Filtering blood. Our liver filters our blood by removing toxins and other harmful substances — converting them into waste products.
  • Assisting with blood clotting. Essential proteins are produced in the liver and used in blood clotting to prevent us from losing too much blood.
  • Creating bile. Bile is essential for digestion and helps to break down food. This helps our body make use of the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that we consume.
  • Fighting infections. Our liver houses macrophages, cells that remove bacteria and other harmful organisms, which is essential for fighting off infections and keeping us healthy.

Our liver does so much in our body — requiring proper functioning to maintain our overall health. Let’s take a look at some factors that can influence our liver health.

What Affects Our Liver Health?

Signs of liver disease or dysfunction may take time to appear. Being aware of the factors that affect our liver health can help us prevent dysfunction. Let’s consider the following factors that influence our liver health:

  • Alcohol. The toxins in alcohol cause liver cell damage each time the liver works to metabolize it. Over time, liver cells will not be able to regenerate properly — resulting in permanent liver damage. Alcohol can also lead to a buildup of fats, which affects proper liver function. This is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Diet and weight. An unhealthy diet can lead to excess weight gain. This can lead to excess fat buildup in the liver, affecting proper liver function. 
  • High cholesterol. The cholesterol we consume ends up mostly in the liver. An excess can increase the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Diabetes. High blood glucose levels cause cell damage, affecting organs like our liver.

We’ve established that many different elements can impact our liver health, but let’s explore some ways we can detect potential problems.

Indicators of Liver Dysfunction or Liver Disease

Liver disease is often not detected until serious symptoms arise. Learning to identify signs of liver dysfunction helps us determine if we need to test our liver function at home. The following are signs to watch for: 

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Jaundice
  • Itchy skin
  • Low libido
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Swelling of the ankles/legs

If we experience any of these symptoms and are concerned about our liver health, it might be worth testing our liver health.

What Are Liver Function Tests?

Liver function tests are blood tests that look at specific proteins and enzymes in our blood to help determine the functioning of our liver. Too much or too little of the proteins and enzymes that the liver function test checks for can suggest liver disease or dysfunction.

A liver panel can vary in the proteins and enzymes that are tested. The common liver function tests in a liver panel include the following: 

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT). ALT tests check for acute liver cell damage by detecting ALT enzyme levels in our blood.
  • Aspartate transaminase (AST). AST is another enzyme released after liver cell damage that suggests liver or heart problems. 
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). This enzyme, found in high concentrations in liver tissue, can be tested to help detect liver tumors and abscesses. 
  • Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). GGT is produced in the liver, pancreas, and biliary tract. This test can check liver function and detect alcohol absorption.
  • Serum bilirubin. This test checks for the proper processing of bile in our liver.
  • International normalized ratio (INR). The INR test determines the time it takes for our blood to clot. Since our liver produces essential proteins necessary for blood clotting, this test can help detect abnormal liver functioning.
  • Albumin. Low levels of this protein found in our blood can be an indicator of liver dysfunction. It is one of the primary tests used to diagnose liver disease.
  • Total protein. This test measures the level of proteins in our blood. The test is typically used as part of a comprehensive liver panel, as abnormal levels can indicate liver disease.

Now that we’ve determined reasons to check our liver function, let’s explore some ways we can get a liver function test.

How To Check Liver Health at Home

How Can I Get a Liver Panel?

Our primary care physician can request a liver panel. If a liver function test is needed, we will be ordered to complete a blood test to detect any abnormalities. The test is typically performed in a laboratory, clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office. If ordered by a physician, some insurance policies may cover the cost of the panel. There may be a copayment, but the exact cost and policy will vary depending on the insurance.

A liver panel is easily requested from a practitioner, but some of us may be looking for other options. 

Can I Complete a Liver Test at Home?

A liver function test can be purchased online, completed at home, and referred to a lab for sample collection. Unlike lab tests, which typically involve a full blood draw, at-home testing kits mainly require a skin prick. Once the sample is taken, it is sent to a lab for analysis.

At-home liver function test costs can range from $30-$200, depending on the thoroughness of the panels. With prices as low as $30, it almost sounds too good to be true. We may be left questioning if at-home liver testing kits actually work.

Do At-Home Liver Function Tests Work?

Studies show that at-home liver function tests are effective and can help detect acute liver injury. At-home testing kits commonly check for the same proteins and enzymes in laboratory liver panels; however, at-home liver tests may not be as comprehensive or as accurate as in-clinic tests. The small, pinprick blood sample limits the range of at-home tests. 

Results may also vary in accuracy depending on the brand of the test and the lab where the results are processed. The reports commonly indicate abnormalities by showing results “out of normal range.” However, this may not always indicate the level of dysfunction and does not provide details on potential issues. If we have serious concerns about our liver health, it’s best to skip the at-home test and see a doctor.

At-home liver function tests are most optimal for those of us who want to maintain frequent liver health checks. The tests can also be helpful for those of us who are worried about potential side effects from medication or who struggle with alcohol misuse. For those of us who have determined that at-home liver tests can be beneficial, let’s walk through the steps on how to complete one.

How To Check Liver Function at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

Before attempting to check our liver health at home, it’s important to determine if an at-home liver function test is appropriate for our personal needs. Consulting with a physician regarding serious concerns is recommended. For those who may benefit from an at-home liver test, let’s walk through a step-by-step guide to completing a liver health check at home.

  1. Choose an at-home liver test. Liver function tests can vary by the specific proteins and enzymes that are tested. Determining how comprehensively we want to test our liver health can help us decide which liver test to purchase.
  2. Read specific instructions. The instructions on liver function tests will differ. Some comprehensive tests require fasting, and less thorough tests typically do not. Completing the test as instructed ensures the results are as accurate as possible.
  3. Gather the sample. Following the instructions carefully, the next step is to obtain the sample. At-home tests typically require a simple skin prick. 
  4. Send the sample for analysis. Depending on the test, we will be directed to send the sample to the appropriate lab for analysis. There, the blood sample will be analyzed for any abnormalities the panel tests for. 
  5. Review results. Once the lab completes the analysis, we will receive the results of the test. The results will indicate if our results fall inside or outside of the normal range. 
  6. Consult a doctor. If abnormalities are detected, or if we continue to have concerns regarding our liver health, it is best to consult with a physician for further guidance. 

Regular liver checks help to detect dysfunction and disease, but we can also implement strategies to help maintain a healthy liver.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Liver

Aside from checking our liver health from time to time, we can take other initiatives to improve and maintain healthy liver function. Let’s explore several different habits we can implement to improve our liver health:

  • Limit alcohol intake. Cutting back on alcohol reduces the chance of liver cell damage. Set limits to help cut back on alcohol or try alcohol-free alternatives to eliminate alcohol-related liver damage.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet is essential for optimal body functions and can help us maintain a healthy weight. This helps us reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease. Focus on a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins. 
  • Exercise. Physical activity helps to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and prevent excess fat buildup in the liver. It is helpful to find enjoyable ways to participate in daily movement to create sustainable habits. Try walking on a new scenic route or gathering friends and family to try a new dance class.
  • Avoid smoking. Toxins in cigarettes can lead to liver inflammation and scarring. Over time, smoking can also increase the risk of liver cancer and fatty liver disease. Treatment or support should be explored if smoking habits are a concern.
  • Get vaccinated. Viral liver infections, including Hepatitis A and B, can be prevented through vaccinations. 

Breaking It Down

“A healthy liver keeps the doctor away.” While that’s not exactly how the saying goes, it remains true that proper liver function is essential for our overall health. At-home liver function tests can help us check for any abnormalities without having to set foot in a doctor’s office. While consulting with a physician is always recommended when we are concerned about our health, at-home tests can be a convenient tool for maintaining regular liver health checks. Looking into your liver health can be just a click away.

Compared to the beloved brain or the hallowed heart, the liver is no ostentatious organ. It’s fairly easy to ignore, and we don’t have as many health fads reminding us to check on it. 

Fortunately, with the rise of at-home conveniences, it’s now easier than ever to monitor your liver health. You may have seen at-home liver test kits pop up during your search about liver health. So, are you wondering if they really work or what they entail? Let’s walk through our guide to proper liver function and how to test liver health at home.

What Does Our Liver Do?

Located just above our stomach, our liver is the largest solid organ in our body. Our liver is commonly known for its role in metabolizing alcohol but is responsible for so many other primary functions in our body:

  • Filtering blood. Our liver filters our blood by removing toxins and other harmful substances — converting them into waste products.
  • Assisting with blood clotting. Essential proteins are produced in the liver and used in blood clotting to prevent us from losing too much blood.
  • Creating bile. Bile is essential for digestion and helps to break down food. This helps our body make use of the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that we consume.
  • Fighting infections. Our liver houses macrophages, cells that remove bacteria and other harmful organisms, which is essential for fighting off infections and keeping us healthy.

Our liver does so much in our body — requiring proper functioning to maintain our overall health. Let’s take a look at some factors that can influence our liver health.

What Affects Our Liver Health?

Signs of liver disease or dysfunction may take time to appear. Being aware of the factors that affect our liver health can help us prevent dysfunction. Let’s consider the following factors that influence our liver health:

  • Alcohol. The toxins in alcohol cause liver cell damage each time the liver works to metabolize it. Over time, liver cells will not be able to regenerate properly — resulting in permanent liver damage. Alcohol can also lead to a buildup of fats, which affects proper liver function. This is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Diet and weight. An unhealthy diet can lead to excess weight gain. This can lead to excess fat buildup in the liver, affecting proper liver function. 
  • High cholesterol. The cholesterol we consume ends up mostly in the liver. An excess can increase the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Diabetes. High blood glucose levels cause cell damage, affecting organs like our liver.

We’ve established that many different elements can impact our liver health, but let’s explore some ways we can detect potential problems.

Indicators of Liver Dysfunction or Liver Disease

Liver disease is often not detected until serious symptoms arise. Learning to identify signs of liver dysfunction helps us determine if we need to test our liver function at home. The following are signs to watch for: 

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Jaundice
  • Itchy skin
  • Low libido
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Swelling of the ankles/legs

If we experience any of these symptoms and are concerned about our liver health, it might be worth testing our liver health.

What Are Liver Function Tests?

Liver function tests are blood tests that look at specific proteins and enzymes in our blood to help determine the functioning of our liver. Too much or too little of the proteins and enzymes that the liver function test checks for can suggest liver disease or dysfunction.

A liver panel can vary in the proteins and enzymes that are tested. The common liver function tests in a liver panel include the following: 

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT). ALT tests check for acute liver cell damage by detecting ALT enzyme levels in our blood.
  • Aspartate transaminase (AST). AST is another enzyme released after liver cell damage that suggests liver or heart problems. 
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). This enzyme, found in high concentrations in liver tissue, can be tested to help detect liver tumors and abscesses. 
  • Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). GGT is produced in the liver, pancreas, and biliary tract. This test can check liver function and detect alcohol absorption.
  • Serum bilirubin. This test checks for the proper processing of bile in our liver.
  • International normalized ratio (INR). The INR test determines the time it takes for our blood to clot. Since our liver produces essential proteins necessary for blood clotting, this test can help detect abnormal liver functioning.
  • Albumin. Low levels of this protein found in our blood can be an indicator of liver dysfunction. It is one of the primary tests used to diagnose liver disease.
  • Total protein. This test measures the level of proteins in our blood. The test is typically used as part of a comprehensive liver panel, as abnormal levels can indicate liver disease.

Now that we’ve determined reasons to check our liver function, let’s explore some ways we can get a liver function test.

How To Check Liver Health at Home

How Can I Get a Liver Panel?

Our primary care physician can request a liver panel. If a liver function test is needed, we will be ordered to complete a blood test to detect any abnormalities. The test is typically performed in a laboratory, clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office. If ordered by a physician, some insurance policies may cover the cost of the panel. There may be a copayment, but the exact cost and policy will vary depending on the insurance.

A liver panel is easily requested from a practitioner, but some of us may be looking for other options. 

Can I Complete a Liver Test at Home?

A liver function test can be purchased online, completed at home, and referred to a lab for sample collection. Unlike lab tests, which typically involve a full blood draw, at-home testing kits mainly require a skin prick. Once the sample is taken, it is sent to a lab for analysis.

At-home liver function test costs can range from $30-$200, depending on the thoroughness of the panels. With prices as low as $30, it almost sounds too good to be true. We may be left questioning if at-home liver testing kits actually work.

Do At-Home Liver Function Tests Work?

Studies show that at-home liver function tests are effective and can help detect acute liver injury. At-home testing kits commonly check for the same proteins and enzymes in laboratory liver panels; however, at-home liver tests may not be as comprehensive or as accurate as in-clinic tests. The small, pinprick blood sample limits the range of at-home tests. 

Results may also vary in accuracy depending on the brand of the test and the lab where the results are processed. The reports commonly indicate abnormalities by showing results “out of normal range.” However, this may not always indicate the level of dysfunction and does not provide details on potential issues. If we have serious concerns about our liver health, it’s best to skip the at-home test and see a doctor.

At-home liver function tests are most optimal for those of us who want to maintain frequent liver health checks. The tests can also be helpful for those of us who are worried about potential side effects from medication or who struggle with alcohol misuse. For those of us who have determined that at-home liver tests can be beneficial, let’s walk through the steps on how to complete one.

How To Check Liver Function at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

Before attempting to check our liver health at home, it’s important to determine if an at-home liver function test is appropriate for our personal needs. Consulting with a physician regarding serious concerns is recommended. For those who may benefit from an at-home liver test, let’s walk through a step-by-step guide to completing a liver health check at home.

  1. Choose an at-home liver test. Liver function tests can vary by the specific proteins and enzymes that are tested. Determining how comprehensively we want to test our liver health can help us decide which liver test to purchase.
  2. Read specific instructions. The instructions on liver function tests will differ. Some comprehensive tests require fasting, and less thorough tests typically do not. Completing the test as instructed ensures the results are as accurate as possible.
  3. Gather the sample. Following the instructions carefully, the next step is to obtain the sample. At-home tests typically require a simple skin prick. 
  4. Send the sample for analysis. Depending on the test, we will be directed to send the sample to the appropriate lab for analysis. There, the blood sample will be analyzed for any abnormalities the panel tests for. 
  5. Review results. Once the lab completes the analysis, we will receive the results of the test. The results will indicate if our results fall inside or outside of the normal range. 
  6. Consult a doctor. If abnormalities are detected, or if we continue to have concerns regarding our liver health, it is best to consult with a physician for further guidance. 

Regular liver checks help to detect dysfunction and disease, but we can also implement strategies to help maintain a healthy liver.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Liver

Aside from checking our liver health from time to time, we can take other initiatives to improve and maintain healthy liver function. Let’s explore several different habits we can implement to improve our liver health:

  • Limit alcohol intake. Cutting back on alcohol reduces the chance of liver cell damage. Set limits to help cut back on alcohol or try alcohol-free alternatives to eliminate alcohol-related liver damage.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet is essential for optimal body functions and can help us maintain a healthy weight. This helps us reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease. Focus on a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins. 
  • Exercise. Physical activity helps to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and prevent excess fat buildup in the liver. It is helpful to find enjoyable ways to participate in daily movement to create sustainable habits. Try walking on a new scenic route or gathering friends and family to try a new dance class.
  • Avoid smoking. Toxins in cigarettes can lead to liver inflammation and scarring. Over time, smoking can also increase the risk of liver cancer and fatty liver disease. Treatment or support should be explored if smoking habits are a concern.
  • Get vaccinated. Viral liver infections, including Hepatitis A and B, can be prevented through vaccinations. 

Breaking It Down

“A healthy liver keeps the doctor away.” While that’s not exactly how the saying goes, it remains true that proper liver function is essential for our overall health. At-home liver function tests can help us check for any abnormalities without having to set foot in a doctor’s office. While consulting with a physician is always recommended when we are concerned about our health, at-home tests can be a convenient tool for maintaining regular liver health checks. Looking into your liver health can be just a click away.

Alcohol and Health
2024-04-09 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Can I Drink Alcohol After Having a Stent Fitted?
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Is it safe to drink alcohol after getting a stent fitted for heart attacks or other related conditions? Learn the science and best practices for your heart health.

19 min read

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Read Full Article  →

Whether you’ve ever experienced heart problems, or they run in your family, or you're simply wanting to be more proactive about your heart health, you’ve come to the right place! February also happens to be Heart Health Month in the U.S., so what better way to celebrate than by educating yourself about the relationship between our heart health and alcohol. 

If you’ve ever had a stent fitted or know someone who has, you may be wondering if you’ll ever be able to get back to your old self. “Do I have to give up Chick-fil-A for good?” “Will I be able to get back to long-distance running?” “Can I drink alcohol after having a stent fitted?”

Only your doctor can definitively answer questions about your prognosis, but we can touch on the alcohol-related side of things. Let’s explore and find out: Can you drink alcohol with stents in your heart? And how soon after a heart attack can you drink alcohol?

How and Why Stents Are Used

Person experiencing chest discomfort

A stent is a small tube that a doctor installs inside one of our arteries to open it up after it’s been blocked by either cholesterol or fat buildup that was limiting — or, in the case of a heart attack, completely stopping — blood from flowing through our heart and to the rest of our body. 

Once a doctor removes the buildup that was causing the blockage in the artery, a stent is then placed to prevent further stress to that area. Think of your coronary arteries as mining tunnels — a stent acts as a support structure to keep the tunnel from collapsing.

Simply put, our coronary arteries are a big deal! A completely blocked coronary artery will cause a heart attack. The classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing chest pain or pressure, shoulder or arm pain, shortness of breath, and sweating. Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms, such as neck or jaw pain, nausea, or unusual fatigue.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, especially if you’ve already had a heart attack or have a stent in place.

Who Needs a Stent? 

Stents are typically used for those of us who have experienced heart problems such as a heart attack. They’re also used when we have advanced atherosclerosis, a condition that involves plaque collecting inside an artery. However, stents can be used for other conditions that aren’t related to the heart but are related to circulation and blood flow.

Here are some additional conditions that may require a stent:

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD), a specific type of atherosclerosis in the arms and legs that causes dysfunction, pain, and numbness.

  • Carotid artery disease (CAD), a type of atherosclerosis in the carotid artery, the essential express lane that allows oxygen-rich blood to travel directly from the heart to the brain. CAD causes decreased blood flow to the brain and can lead to stroke.

  • Renal artery stenosis (RAS), where the arteries in our kidneys narrow from any cause (including atherosclerosis). RAS can cause high blood pressure (hypertension) and kidney disease, including kidney failure.

  • Aneurysms are a weakening of the walls of a blood vessel. They often show up in imaging as a bulging area of a blood vessel that should be smooth. When blood pressure rises, the wall can rupture and cause internal bleeding. Stents are used to reduce pressure on the vessel wall.

Just like stents help increase blood flow when our hearts are blocked, they also help increase blood flow through our bodies when we have another blockage, such as deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in your leg, arm, or pelvis) or an aneurysm. They can also help with blockages in airways for someone experiencing a blockage in their lungs, for example. However, stents are most commonly used to prevent further damage after a heart attack.

Alcohol and Heart Attacks

As we mentioned, stents are often used after heart attacks to shore up the structure of the blood vessel that was blocked during the attack. Unfortunately, alcohol has many detrimental effects on the heart. But can alcohol cause cardiac arrest?

Does Alcohol Cause Heart Attacks?

Drinking alcohol is linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including heart conditions. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke — but can alcohol give you a heart attack?

Excessive drinking can also contribute to cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle, and can contribute to conditions associated with heart attacks, such as diabetes, obesity, clotting, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation.

In general, it’s best to avoid alcohol if you’re concerned about heart health. And if you’ve already had a heart attack, it’s even more important.

How Soon After a Heart Attack Can I Drink Alcohol?

We don’t recommend drinking alcohol after a heart attack or stent placement, but for those of us who do choose to consume alcohol, it’s important to exercise caution. Speak to a healthcare provider about your individual case and medical history. For some of us, it may be safe to drink a glass of wine after a week or so; whereas, for others, it may be best to wait up to a month or more or to cut out alcohol completely. 

The takeaway is this: If we choose to drink alcohol, it’s important to practice moderation. Remember, there is no “safe” level of alcohol, only best practices for reducing the risk of harm.

Now, back to stents!

How Does the Stent Procedure Work?

The clinical term for a heart stent procedure is percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or angioplasty. The procedure is usually done using a local anesthetic, though we’ll likely be given medication to help us relax.

An inflatable catheter (called a “balloon”) is inserted into a blood vessel, typically through our wrist. Once the doctor determines the target location, the stent is placed using special X-ray equipment. The balloon is inflated, and the stent is expanded around it. Then the balloon is deflated, leaving the stent in place. 

After the procedure, we will likely be required to take blood thinners or other medications to ensure our arteries remain open and the blood continues to flow freely, as it should.

What Should I Avoid After I Get a Stent?

The recovery process after getting a stent fitted depends on the seriousness of the preceding event. It’s always important to speak with our healthcare provider and ask detailed questions. To protect our well-being, it’s important to be honest and open with our doctor. 

But generally, here are a few things to avoid at least for a few days after a stent procedure:

  • Heavy lifting
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Stressful activities (for example, returning to work right away)
  • Drinking alcohol

All of this sounds like a drag — but hey, it’s better than the alternative! After your recovery period, you’ll be able to get back to your normal self. However, you will likely have to adjust to a different lifestyle with healthier choices. Say goodbye to your regular fried chicken sandwich for lunch!

But wait, can you drink alcohol with stents in your heart? Let’s find out!

Post-Stent Procedure Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption

Can I Drink Alcohol After Getting a Stent Fitted?

As we’ve reiterated throughout the article, we recommend speaking with your doctor about this before you go for a drink. Everyone’s recovery process is different, and we all react differently to medical procedures. Depending on overall health, a few drinks might not kill us, but drinking alcohol at this stage poses a lot of risks. Here are the big ones:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib is a common heart rhythm disorder, and alcohol is the most common trigger of episodes. AFib feels like a flutter in the chest. This can lead to exhaustion, dizziness, lightheadedness, heart attack, and stroke. Don’t chance it!

  • Blood pressure fluctuations. Alcohol causes swings to your blood pressure, putting extra strain on your body and heart.

  • Medication interactions. After a stent placement (and maybe before), we’ll likely be taking a blood thinner, aspirin, a statin (anti-cholesterol med), and maybe a pain medication. In any case, alcohol interacts with all drugs typically used after a stent placement. At high amounts, this interaction can be fatal.

Let’s face it, if we’ve just had a stent placed, we probably have more than the average health considerations to take into account! We’re healing not only from the procedure, but we’re in the process of recovering from whatever condition led to the placement of the stent. To optimize heart and blood health and give our body the best chance at healing, it’s best to take it easy and avoid stressing our body out with alcohol.

When To Call a Doctor

Seek medical attention or dial 911 if you experience any of these symptoms after a stent procedure: 

  • Bleeding, swelling, discharge, or numbness
  • Fever or chills
  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Abnormal (too slow or too fast) pulse
  • Chest pain

Although the angioplasty and stent will help the blood circulate better, that doesn’t mean we’re completely off the hook! We still need to do our part to live a healthy lifestyle. That means eating healthy foods, exercising, avoiding tobacco products, and limiting alcohol. 

What Is Drinking in Moderation?

Moderation is key to overall health and a healthy relationship with alcohol. We may have heard the term “moderation” thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean?

Moderation means consuming alcoholic beverages in reasonable limits that mitigate risks to health. Moderation implies a balanced and controlled approach to drinking. It’s typically defined as less than one drink per day for women and fewer than two drinks per day for men. 

Moderation entails making intentional and informed decisions about the quantity and frequency of our alcohol intake. Mindful drinking prioritizes our health goals and allows us to avoid negative consequences such as impaired judgment or dependency. To learn more about how mindful drinking benefits overall well-being, check out our article about health benefits of cutting back on drinking

Luckily, life offers many options for enjoying ourselves without drinking alcohol. Let’s take a look at how we can protect our heart health with sobriety!

Healthy Alternatives to Drinking Alcohol

Many of us have heard that a glass of red wine is good for heart health. So is that an invitation to drink our daily glass (and then some) if we’re on a path of healing our heart?

Think again! We wish it were that simple. Most of those studies have been debunked, or it was proven that we get all the benefits of drinking red wine by just drinking non-alcoholic grape juice (without the negative effects of alcohol).

Luckily, there are heart-healthy ways to enjoy a “drink” without alcohol. In fact, this time of healing can stand as the beginning of a greater journey toward sobriety or mindfully reduced drinking. Let’s look at some healthy alternatives to drinking alcohol after getting a stent placed.

  • Opt for a mocktail. We love mocktails here at Reframe. They give us the feeling of drinking a cocktail without the negative effects! Check out these healthy (and fun!) mocktail recipes or try ordering a mocktail at a bar — best of all, mocktails are often free (or very cheap!). 
  • Try non-alcoholic wine or beer. You may be scrunching up your nose at the idea of non-alcoholic beer or wine, but if you’re really craving the flavor, give one of these a try. With the rise of the sober-curious movement, N/A beers are increasingly common and fancy. Many craft breweries have N/A options, and there are even entire breweries dedicated to making a variety of craft N/A beer styles. There’s no harm in trying! You may end up really enjoying the flavor without the results (or price tag) of alcoholic beer.
  • Juice it up. Juices and smoothies are a healthy alternative to drinking and also can be made with heart-healthy ingredients like fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. On top of that, they’re easy to make — delicious! Consider a detox drink packed with nutrients like Vitamin C, B, and antioxidants (think blueberries) or inflammation-busting ingredients like citrus or turmeric.

Whether we’re recovering from heart surgery or taking a break from drinking for other health reasons, there are many benefits to an alcohol-free lifestyle worth exploring.

The Bottom Line

Although it’s not technically a “no-no” to drink alcohol after having a stent fitted, the best idea is to exercise caution with anything that could potentially put us at risk or cause any complications — especially when we’re dealing with matters of the heart! Our hearts are really the heartbeat of our entire well-being. As always, Reframe is here to help us all make positive changes that benefit our health.

Whether you’ve ever experienced heart problems, or they run in your family, or you're simply wanting to be more proactive about your heart health, you’ve come to the right place! February also happens to be Heart Health Month in the U.S., so what better way to celebrate than by educating yourself about the relationship between our heart health and alcohol. 

If you’ve ever had a stent fitted or know someone who has, you may be wondering if you’ll ever be able to get back to your old self. “Do I have to give up Chick-fil-A for good?” “Will I be able to get back to long-distance running?” “Can I drink alcohol after having a stent fitted?”

Only your doctor can definitively answer questions about your prognosis, but we can touch on the alcohol-related side of things. Let’s explore and find out: Can you drink alcohol with stents in your heart? And how soon after a heart attack can you drink alcohol?

How and Why Stents Are Used

Person experiencing chest discomfort

A stent is a small tube that a doctor installs inside one of our arteries to open it up after it’s been blocked by either cholesterol or fat buildup that was limiting — or, in the case of a heart attack, completely stopping — blood from flowing through our heart and to the rest of our body. 

Once a doctor removes the buildup that was causing the blockage in the artery, a stent is then placed to prevent further stress to that area. Think of your coronary arteries as mining tunnels — a stent acts as a support structure to keep the tunnel from collapsing.

Simply put, our coronary arteries are a big deal! A completely blocked coronary artery will cause a heart attack. The classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing chest pain or pressure, shoulder or arm pain, shortness of breath, and sweating. Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms, such as neck or jaw pain, nausea, or unusual fatigue.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, especially if you’ve already had a heart attack or have a stent in place.

Who Needs a Stent? 

Stents are typically used for those of us who have experienced heart problems such as a heart attack. They’re also used when we have advanced atherosclerosis, a condition that involves plaque collecting inside an artery. However, stents can be used for other conditions that aren’t related to the heart but are related to circulation and blood flow.

Here are some additional conditions that may require a stent:

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD), a specific type of atherosclerosis in the arms and legs that causes dysfunction, pain, and numbness.

  • Carotid artery disease (CAD), a type of atherosclerosis in the carotid artery, the essential express lane that allows oxygen-rich blood to travel directly from the heart to the brain. CAD causes decreased blood flow to the brain and can lead to stroke.

  • Renal artery stenosis (RAS), where the arteries in our kidneys narrow from any cause (including atherosclerosis). RAS can cause high blood pressure (hypertension) and kidney disease, including kidney failure.

  • Aneurysms are a weakening of the walls of a blood vessel. They often show up in imaging as a bulging area of a blood vessel that should be smooth. When blood pressure rises, the wall can rupture and cause internal bleeding. Stents are used to reduce pressure on the vessel wall.

Just like stents help increase blood flow when our hearts are blocked, they also help increase blood flow through our bodies when we have another blockage, such as deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in your leg, arm, or pelvis) or an aneurysm. They can also help with blockages in airways for someone experiencing a blockage in their lungs, for example. However, stents are most commonly used to prevent further damage after a heart attack.

Alcohol and Heart Attacks

As we mentioned, stents are often used after heart attacks to shore up the structure of the blood vessel that was blocked during the attack. Unfortunately, alcohol has many detrimental effects on the heart. But can alcohol cause cardiac arrest?

Does Alcohol Cause Heart Attacks?

Drinking alcohol is linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including heart conditions. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke — but can alcohol give you a heart attack?

Excessive drinking can also contribute to cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle, and can contribute to conditions associated with heart attacks, such as diabetes, obesity, clotting, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation.

In general, it’s best to avoid alcohol if you’re concerned about heart health. And if you’ve already had a heart attack, it’s even more important.

How Soon After a Heart Attack Can I Drink Alcohol?

We don’t recommend drinking alcohol after a heart attack or stent placement, but for those of us who do choose to consume alcohol, it’s important to exercise caution. Speak to a healthcare provider about your individual case and medical history. For some of us, it may be safe to drink a glass of wine after a week or so; whereas, for others, it may be best to wait up to a month or more or to cut out alcohol completely. 

The takeaway is this: If we choose to drink alcohol, it’s important to practice moderation. Remember, there is no “safe” level of alcohol, only best practices for reducing the risk of harm.

Now, back to stents!

How Does the Stent Procedure Work?

The clinical term for a heart stent procedure is percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or angioplasty. The procedure is usually done using a local anesthetic, though we’ll likely be given medication to help us relax.

An inflatable catheter (called a “balloon”) is inserted into a blood vessel, typically through our wrist. Once the doctor determines the target location, the stent is placed using special X-ray equipment. The balloon is inflated, and the stent is expanded around it. Then the balloon is deflated, leaving the stent in place. 

After the procedure, we will likely be required to take blood thinners or other medications to ensure our arteries remain open and the blood continues to flow freely, as it should.

What Should I Avoid After I Get a Stent?

The recovery process after getting a stent fitted depends on the seriousness of the preceding event. It’s always important to speak with our healthcare provider and ask detailed questions. To protect our well-being, it’s important to be honest and open with our doctor. 

But generally, here are a few things to avoid at least for a few days after a stent procedure:

  • Heavy lifting
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Stressful activities (for example, returning to work right away)
  • Drinking alcohol

All of this sounds like a drag — but hey, it’s better than the alternative! After your recovery period, you’ll be able to get back to your normal self. However, you will likely have to adjust to a different lifestyle with healthier choices. Say goodbye to your regular fried chicken sandwich for lunch!

But wait, can you drink alcohol with stents in your heart? Let’s find out!

Post-Stent Procedure Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption

Can I Drink Alcohol After Getting a Stent Fitted?

As we’ve reiterated throughout the article, we recommend speaking with your doctor about this before you go for a drink. Everyone’s recovery process is different, and we all react differently to medical procedures. Depending on overall health, a few drinks might not kill us, but drinking alcohol at this stage poses a lot of risks. Here are the big ones:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib is a common heart rhythm disorder, and alcohol is the most common trigger of episodes. AFib feels like a flutter in the chest. This can lead to exhaustion, dizziness, lightheadedness, heart attack, and stroke. Don’t chance it!

  • Blood pressure fluctuations. Alcohol causes swings to your blood pressure, putting extra strain on your body and heart.

  • Medication interactions. After a stent placement (and maybe before), we’ll likely be taking a blood thinner, aspirin, a statin (anti-cholesterol med), and maybe a pain medication. In any case, alcohol interacts with all drugs typically used after a stent placement. At high amounts, this interaction can be fatal.

Let’s face it, if we’ve just had a stent placed, we probably have more than the average health considerations to take into account! We’re healing not only from the procedure, but we’re in the process of recovering from whatever condition led to the placement of the stent. To optimize heart and blood health and give our body the best chance at healing, it’s best to take it easy and avoid stressing our body out with alcohol.

When To Call a Doctor

Seek medical attention or dial 911 if you experience any of these symptoms after a stent procedure: 

  • Bleeding, swelling, discharge, or numbness
  • Fever or chills
  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Abnormal (too slow or too fast) pulse
  • Chest pain

Although the angioplasty and stent will help the blood circulate better, that doesn’t mean we’re completely off the hook! We still need to do our part to live a healthy lifestyle. That means eating healthy foods, exercising, avoiding tobacco products, and limiting alcohol. 

What Is Drinking in Moderation?

Moderation is key to overall health and a healthy relationship with alcohol. We may have heard the term “moderation” thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean?

Moderation means consuming alcoholic beverages in reasonable limits that mitigate risks to health. Moderation implies a balanced and controlled approach to drinking. It’s typically defined as less than one drink per day for women and fewer than two drinks per day for men. 

Moderation entails making intentional and informed decisions about the quantity and frequency of our alcohol intake. Mindful drinking prioritizes our health goals and allows us to avoid negative consequences such as impaired judgment or dependency. To learn more about how mindful drinking benefits overall well-being, check out our article about health benefits of cutting back on drinking

Luckily, life offers many options for enjoying ourselves without drinking alcohol. Let’s take a look at how we can protect our heart health with sobriety!

Healthy Alternatives to Drinking Alcohol

Many of us have heard that a glass of red wine is good for heart health. So is that an invitation to drink our daily glass (and then some) if we’re on a path of healing our heart?

Think again! We wish it were that simple. Most of those studies have been debunked, or it was proven that we get all the benefits of drinking red wine by just drinking non-alcoholic grape juice (without the negative effects of alcohol).

Luckily, there are heart-healthy ways to enjoy a “drink” without alcohol. In fact, this time of healing can stand as the beginning of a greater journey toward sobriety or mindfully reduced drinking. Let’s look at some healthy alternatives to drinking alcohol after getting a stent placed.

  • Opt for a mocktail. We love mocktails here at Reframe. They give us the feeling of drinking a cocktail without the negative effects! Check out these healthy (and fun!) mocktail recipes or try ordering a mocktail at a bar — best of all, mocktails are often free (or very cheap!). 
  • Try non-alcoholic wine or beer. You may be scrunching up your nose at the idea of non-alcoholic beer or wine, but if you’re really craving the flavor, give one of these a try. With the rise of the sober-curious movement, N/A beers are increasingly common and fancy. Many craft breweries have N/A options, and there are even entire breweries dedicated to making a variety of craft N/A beer styles. There’s no harm in trying! You may end up really enjoying the flavor without the results (or price tag) of alcoholic beer.
  • Juice it up. Juices and smoothies are a healthy alternative to drinking and also can be made with heart-healthy ingredients like fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. On top of that, they’re easy to make — delicious! Consider a detox drink packed with nutrients like Vitamin C, B, and antioxidants (think blueberries) or inflammation-busting ingredients like citrus or turmeric.

Whether we’re recovering from heart surgery or taking a break from drinking for other health reasons, there are many benefits to an alcohol-free lifestyle worth exploring.

The Bottom Line

Although it’s not technically a “no-no” to drink alcohol after having a stent fitted, the best idea is to exercise caution with anything that could potentially put us at risk or cause any complications — especially when we’re dealing with matters of the heart! Our hearts are really the heartbeat of our entire well-being. As always, Reframe is here to help us all make positive changes that benefit our health.

Alcohol and Health
2024-04-06 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Does Nyquil Have Alcohol Content?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Liquid NyQuil contains 10% alcohol. Read on to learn about how alcohol enhances the side effects of NyQuil and the combination can cause a variety of health problems.

20 min read

Take Charge of Your Health 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!

Read Full Article  →

It’s that time of year: everyone seems to be sick with something! We all know and dread the coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fevers, aches, and pains that come with cold and flu. When we’re not feeling well, we know medication can help us feel better, but we might also be craving a little drink because we believe it will boost our mood or help us sleep (more on this later!). But is it safe to drink alcohol while sick and then take a cold medication such as NyQuil? 

This blog will explore why drinking alcohol and taking NyQuil can be quite dangerous. Keep reading, and we will cover the basics on NyQuil and alcohol interactions — and why drinking when we’re sick can make us feel worse. Then we’ll learn some alternatives for fighting off cold and flu viruses.

What Is NyQuil?

Nyquil bottles in line

NyQuil is an over-the-counter medication marketed to treat cold and flu symptoms. NyQuil has three main active ingredients – acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine. These active ingredients work to treat common cold or flu symptoms such as headache, body aches, fever, cough, and congestion. 

  • Acetaminophen. The popular brand name for acetaminophen is Tylenol. Acetaminophen is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer). Acetaminophen fights pain by directly affecting pain receptors in the brain. It also reduces fevers by acting on the hypothalamus, which is responsible for temperature regulation.
  • Dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan is the generic form of Robitussin, a popular antitussive (cough suppressant). Dextromethorphan decreases neuronal activity in the brainstem that causes us to cough, thereby reducing our urge to cough.
  • Doxylamine. Doxylamine is an antihistamine. Histamine is a chemical in our body and brain that is responsible for causing allergy symptoms such as congestion and sneezing. Histamine also helps regulate our sleep and wake cycle, promoting wakefulness. As an antihistamine, doxylamine reduces histamine functionality by blocking histamine receptors in the brain, promoting sleep and reducing congestion and sneezing. The primary purpose of doxylamine in NyQuil is to help us fall asleep (and if you’ve ever taken it, you know how effective it is at making us sleepy!).

Although it’s not a necessary ingredient, some forms of NyQuil have alcohol — but why is this? Alcohol is added to liquid NyQuil to help the active ingredients dissolve, but it serves no therapeutic purpose.

How Long Does NyQuil Take To Work? 

The active ingredients of NyQuil provide temporary relief of cold or flu symptoms. NyQuil begins to work within 30 minutes of taking it and lasts for about four to six hours. Ingredients in NyQuil can take up to two days to fully leave your system. NyQuil should only be used as advised on the bottle’s label or as advised by a medical professional — it is not recommended to use nightly as a sleep aid for many reasons. Plus, the body rapidly develops tolerance to the sedative effects of antihistamines when used regularly.

Spotting Alcoholic NyQuil Products

Not all NyQuil products contain alcohol. If we’re trying to avoid alcohol, it’s important to check the label of our product to confirm if alcohol is present (that includes generic forms of NyQuil). 

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some popular NyQuil products that contain alcohol:

  • NyQuil Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid, Original Flavor
  • NyQuil VapoCool Severe Cold & Flu Liquid + Congestion
  • NyQuil HBP Cold and Flu Medicine

Now let’s look at some popular alcohol-free options:

  • Alcohol-Free NyQuil Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid
  • NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu LiquiCaps
  • NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu Relief Liquid, Berry Flavored
  • NyQuil Kids Honey Cough and Cold (for ages 6 and over)
  • NyQuil Cough DM and Congestion Medicine

The Dangers of Drinking While Sick

While reaching for alcohol may seem like a good way to relax, drinking actually does more harm than good. Some people swear by a hot toddy or a white whiskey & orange juice, however, drinking alcohol while sick will only make us feel worse! Here’s what alcohol actually does when we’re fighting off a cold:

  • Weakens our immune system. Alcohol is an immunosuppressant, meaning it reduces the effectiveness of our immune system. Drinking alcohol suppresses our immune system and makes it harder to fight off viruses such as cold and flu. With our bodies less able to fight off the illness, we may get sicker or prolong the recovery process. 
  • Worsens dehydration. Being sick with viruses such as the cold and flu leads to dehydration through fever, sweating, loss of appetite, or production of mucus. Drinking alcohol leads to further dehydration as alcohol is a diuretic which makes us lose fluids. Drinking while sick makes us more dehydrated and can make us feel worse.
  • Heightens cold and flu symptoms. Common symptoms of cold and flu include stuffy or runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, fever, or fatigue. Drinking alcohol while sick can make these symptoms worse. Why? Alcohol widens our blood vessels through a process called vasodilation, which makes congestion or a runny nose worse.

  • Disrupts sleep. When we’re sick, we need to rest up and take it easy so our body can focus on getting better. Alcohol decreases the quality of our sleep and leaves us feeling worn out for longer, and our body has to redirect precious energy from the immune system to process the alcohol. 

We should not reach for alcohol when we’re feeling under the weather. The good news is that there are plenty of over-the-counter medications that can help us feel better when we are sick. However, we must consider that drinking alcohol while taking these medications may not be safe. 

How Does NyQuil Interact With Alcohol?

NyQuil has multiple active ingredients, so it’s important to understand how each of these interacts with alcohol. Let’s breakdown those three main components of NyQuil to see how alcohol interacts with each.

  • Acetaminophen. Alcohol and acetaminophen are both metabolized in the liver. Excessive use of either is hard on the liver, and taking them together increases risk for liver damage or toxicity. 
  • Dextromethorphan. Mixing alcohol and dextromethorphan can enhance the psychoactive effects of both. At high doses, dextromethorphan can cause sensations similar to being drunk, such as euphoria, hallucinations, or loss of motor coordination. Alcohol enhances the effects of dextromethorphan and combining them can lead to dangerous and extreme effects. 
  • Doxylamine. Alcohol and doxylamine are both sedatives, but they work in different ways. Doxylamine promotes sleep by inhibiting histamines while alcohol stimulates the release of sedating neurotransmitters and sleep-inducing compounds like adenosine (a byproduct of cellular metabolism). All of these effects combine to induce extreme drowsiness.

Alcohol interacts with the active ingredients in NyQuil by enhancing the associated side-effects, such as the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Balance and motor issues 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Nausea
  • Headache
Long-Term Effects of Mixing NyQuil and Alcohol

Long-Term Effects of Mixing NyQuil and Alcohol

NyQuil’s label states that consuming three or more drinks while taking NyQuil can lead to severe liver damage — but that’s not an invitation to pour two drinks. The risk for developing severe liver damage or intense side effects is lower with fewer drinks, but it’s still risky.

If we regularly combine alcohol and NyQuil, there can be severe consequences to our bodies.

  • Severe liver damage. Alcohol and acetaminophen are both metabolized in the liver. Having both in our systems can strain the liver and lead to damage. 

  • Weakened immune system. Repeated and heavy alcohol use can weaken the immune system. If we’re taking NyQuil, we are likely trying to fight off an illness. Drinking alcohol will only make this more difficult for our body and may prolong or worsen the illness. 

  • Increased risk of alcohol poisoning. Liquid NyQuil products contain 10% alcohol. If we drink large amounts of alcohol and then take NyQuil, we are unintentionally adding more alcohol to our systems and putting ourselves at risk for developing alcohol poisoning.

  • Increased chance for misuse. NyQuil and alcohol enhance the associated side effects of each — both the bad ones and the relaxing ones. As we know, the “feel-good” effects of both of these substances are short-lived, which may drive us to use higher amounts in search of that original feeling. Repeated use of NyQuil and alcohol together can increase our chances of developing alcohol use disorder or polysubstance misuse. 

For these reasons, it’s not a great idea to mix alcohol and NyQuil. But what if it’s too late and we’ve already mixed the two? Are we in danger? What should we do?

What Do I Do If Alcohol Is Found in My Urine?

While one or two drinks and a standard dose of NyQuil isn’t necessarily a medical emergency, the risks go up exponentially when the amounts increase. If you already have a liver condition, even small amounts of these substances can be harmful.

If you’ve had fewer than two drinks, you are probably okay. But, it’s best to take some precautionary measures.

  • Stop drinking. Do not consume more alcohol! Any additional booze can quickly shift the situation from unpleasant to dangerous.

  • Don’t add medications. Don’t take other medications to “balance out” the side effects of alcohol or NyQuil, and definitely avoid anything containing the active ingredients of NyQuil —acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, or doxylamine.

  • Enlist a helper. Consider reaching out to a trusted friend or family member to check on you and help you monitor your symptoms.

  • Monitor your symptoms. Check in with yourself and stay aware of your symptoms so you know when it’s time to seek help.

If you’ve combined small amounts of NyQuil and alcohol, don’t panic. Just stay in tune with your body and look out for signs you may need medical attention.

Danger Signs

Everyone’s body reacts differently to both alcohol and NyQuil, and individual factors like age and overall health play a big part in how we might react to the combination. The most important thing to do is listen to your body. If something feels wrong, get help, and don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if any of your symptoms become severe!

Here are a few danger signs that require immediate attention:

  • Rapid heart rate (above 110 bpm)
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Avoiding alcohol while sick is essential if we want to get back to good health quickly. Medications like NyQuil are helpful in reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of cold and flu. However, for those of us making a firm effort to steer clear of alcohol, there are plenty of options that don’t involve drinking or using alcohol-containing cold and flu medicines.

Alternatives to Alcohol-Based NyQuil

There are a host of over-the-counter cold and flu medications that don’t contain alcohol, including a variety of NyQuil products. Let’s review some alcohol-free ways to treat cold and flu. 

  • Alcohol-free cold medications. There are a variety of alcohol-free NyQuil products and generic counterparts (check the first section here for a list!). Ask a pharmacist or your doctor for more alcohol-free cold and flu medication options, and always check product labels for clarification.

  • Decongestants. Decongestants such as Sudafed can help open the airways to relieve congestion. Nasal sprays and nasal rinses can also help clear things out in the sinuses.

  • Pain relievers. Consider pain and fever relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Note that many cold medications already contain acetaminophen. Do not take acetaminophen with other medications also containing acetaminophen as this can cause liver damage.
  • Cough medications. Cough suppressant products such as Robitussin, Delsum, or cough drops can help relieve the urge to cough, while guaifenesin (Mucinex) can help break up mucus and make it easier to pass.

  • Natural remedies. Natural remedies for cold and flu symptoms include drinking enough water, getting plenty of rest, saline spray or drops, steam showers or hot water bowls, and cool mist vaporizers or humidifiers

Just because a product doesn’t contain alcohol does not mean it is safe to take with alcohol! Read labels and consult a doctor before taking any of these over-the-counter medications. Ultimately, recovering from a cold or flu takes time and rest! Medications or natural remedies can help us tolerate symptoms, but they will not cure them.

Key Takeaways

Colds and flus are quite unpleasant to deal with. We might think it’s a good idea to have a drink to take the edge off, but as we’ve learned throughout this blog, drinking may actually make our symptoms worse and extend our illness. Most cold and flu medications should not be mixed with alcohol, and it’s an especially bad idea to take NyQuil with alcohol!

Liquid NyQuil contains 10% alcohol, so if we are trying to avoid alcohol, we can try one of the many alcohol-free cold and flu remedies out there. We can also help prevent the next illness by exercising, eating healthy, and quitting or cutting back on alcohol — all of which will boost our immune system and overall health!

It’s that time of year: everyone seems to be sick with something! We all know and dread the coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fevers, aches, and pains that come with cold and flu. When we’re not feeling well, we know medication can help us feel better, but we might also be craving a little drink because we believe it will boost our mood or help us sleep (more on this later!). But is it safe to drink alcohol while sick and then take a cold medication such as NyQuil? 

This blog will explore why drinking alcohol and taking NyQuil can be quite dangerous. Keep reading, and we will cover the basics on NyQuil and alcohol interactions — and why drinking when we’re sick can make us feel worse. Then we’ll learn some alternatives for fighting off cold and flu viruses.

What Is NyQuil?

Nyquil bottles in line

NyQuil is an over-the-counter medication marketed to treat cold and flu symptoms. NyQuil has three main active ingredients – acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine. These active ingredients work to treat common cold or flu symptoms such as headache, body aches, fever, cough, and congestion. 

  • Acetaminophen. The popular brand name for acetaminophen is Tylenol. Acetaminophen is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer). Acetaminophen fights pain by directly affecting pain receptors in the brain. It also reduces fevers by acting on the hypothalamus, which is responsible for temperature regulation.
  • Dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan is the generic form of Robitussin, a popular antitussive (cough suppressant). Dextromethorphan decreases neuronal activity in the brainstem that causes us to cough, thereby reducing our urge to cough.
  • Doxylamine. Doxylamine is an antihistamine. Histamine is a chemical in our body and brain that is responsible for causing allergy symptoms such as congestion and sneezing. Histamine also helps regulate our sleep and wake cycle, promoting wakefulness. As an antihistamine, doxylamine reduces histamine functionality by blocking histamine receptors in the brain, promoting sleep and reducing congestion and sneezing. The primary purpose of doxylamine in NyQuil is to help us fall asleep (and if you’ve ever taken it, you know how effective it is at making us sleepy!).

Although it’s not a necessary ingredient, some forms of NyQuil have alcohol — but why is this? Alcohol is added to liquid NyQuil to help the active ingredients dissolve, but it serves no therapeutic purpose.

How Long Does NyQuil Take To Work? 

The active ingredients of NyQuil provide temporary relief of cold or flu symptoms. NyQuil begins to work within 30 minutes of taking it and lasts for about four to six hours. Ingredients in NyQuil can take up to two days to fully leave your system. NyQuil should only be used as advised on the bottle’s label or as advised by a medical professional — it is not recommended to use nightly as a sleep aid for many reasons. Plus, the body rapidly develops tolerance to the sedative effects of antihistamines when used regularly.

Spotting Alcoholic NyQuil Products

Not all NyQuil products contain alcohol. If we’re trying to avoid alcohol, it’s important to check the label of our product to confirm if alcohol is present (that includes generic forms of NyQuil). 

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some popular NyQuil products that contain alcohol:

  • NyQuil Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid, Original Flavor
  • NyQuil VapoCool Severe Cold & Flu Liquid + Congestion
  • NyQuil HBP Cold and Flu Medicine

Now let’s look at some popular alcohol-free options:

  • Alcohol-Free NyQuil Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid
  • NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu LiquiCaps
  • NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu Relief Liquid, Berry Flavored
  • NyQuil Kids Honey Cough and Cold (for ages 6 and over)
  • NyQuil Cough DM and Congestion Medicine

The Dangers of Drinking While Sick

While reaching for alcohol may seem like a good way to relax, drinking actually does more harm than good. Some people swear by a hot toddy or a white whiskey & orange juice, however, drinking alcohol while sick will only make us feel worse! Here’s what alcohol actually does when we’re fighting off a cold:

  • Weakens our immune system. Alcohol is an immunosuppressant, meaning it reduces the effectiveness of our immune system. Drinking alcohol suppresses our immune system and makes it harder to fight off viruses such as cold and flu. With our bodies less able to fight off the illness, we may get sicker or prolong the recovery process. 
  • Worsens dehydration. Being sick with viruses such as the cold and flu leads to dehydration through fever, sweating, loss of appetite, or production of mucus. Drinking alcohol leads to further dehydration as alcohol is a diuretic which makes us lose fluids. Drinking while sick makes us more dehydrated and can make us feel worse.
  • Heightens cold and flu symptoms. Common symptoms of cold and flu include stuffy or runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, fever, or fatigue. Drinking alcohol while sick can make these symptoms worse. Why? Alcohol widens our blood vessels through a process called vasodilation, which makes congestion or a runny nose worse.

  • Disrupts sleep. When we’re sick, we need to rest up and take it easy so our body can focus on getting better. Alcohol decreases the quality of our sleep and leaves us feeling worn out for longer, and our body has to redirect precious energy from the immune system to process the alcohol. 

We should not reach for alcohol when we’re feeling under the weather. The good news is that there are plenty of over-the-counter medications that can help us feel better when we are sick. However, we must consider that drinking alcohol while taking these medications may not be safe. 

How Does NyQuil Interact With Alcohol?

NyQuil has multiple active ingredients, so it’s important to understand how each of these interacts with alcohol. Let’s breakdown those three main components of NyQuil to see how alcohol interacts with each.

  • Acetaminophen. Alcohol and acetaminophen are both metabolized in the liver. Excessive use of either is hard on the liver, and taking them together increases risk for liver damage or toxicity. 
  • Dextromethorphan. Mixing alcohol and dextromethorphan can enhance the psychoactive effects of both. At high doses, dextromethorphan can cause sensations similar to being drunk, such as euphoria, hallucinations, or loss of motor coordination. Alcohol enhances the effects of dextromethorphan and combining them can lead to dangerous and extreme effects. 
  • Doxylamine. Alcohol and doxylamine are both sedatives, but they work in different ways. Doxylamine promotes sleep by inhibiting histamines while alcohol stimulates the release of sedating neurotransmitters and sleep-inducing compounds like adenosine (a byproduct of cellular metabolism). All of these effects combine to induce extreme drowsiness.

Alcohol interacts with the active ingredients in NyQuil by enhancing the associated side-effects, such as the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Balance and motor issues 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Nausea
  • Headache
Long-Term Effects of Mixing NyQuil and Alcohol

Long-Term Effects of Mixing NyQuil and Alcohol

NyQuil’s label states that consuming three or more drinks while taking NyQuil can lead to severe liver damage — but that’s not an invitation to pour two drinks. The risk for developing severe liver damage or intense side effects is lower with fewer drinks, but it’s still risky.

If we regularly combine alcohol and NyQuil, there can be severe consequences to our bodies.

  • Severe liver damage. Alcohol and acetaminophen are both metabolized in the liver. Having both in our systems can strain the liver and lead to damage. 

  • Weakened immune system. Repeated and heavy alcohol use can weaken the immune system. If we’re taking NyQuil, we are likely trying to fight off an illness. Drinking alcohol will only make this more difficult for our body and may prolong or worsen the illness. 

  • Increased risk of alcohol poisoning. Liquid NyQuil products contain 10% alcohol. If we drink large amounts of alcohol and then take NyQuil, we are unintentionally adding more alcohol to our systems and putting ourselves at risk for developing alcohol poisoning.

  • Increased chance for misuse. NyQuil and alcohol enhance the associated side effects of each — both the bad ones and the relaxing ones. As we know, the “feel-good” effects of both of these substances are short-lived, which may drive us to use higher amounts in search of that original feeling. Repeated use of NyQuil and alcohol together can increase our chances of developing alcohol use disorder or polysubstance misuse. 

For these reasons, it’s not a great idea to mix alcohol and NyQuil. But what if it’s too late and we’ve already mixed the two? Are we in danger? What should we do?

What Do I Do If Alcohol Is Found in My Urine?

While one or two drinks and a standard dose of NyQuil isn’t necessarily a medical emergency, the risks go up exponentially when the amounts increase. If you already have a liver condition, even small amounts of these substances can be harmful.

If you’ve had fewer than two drinks, you are probably okay. But, it’s best to take some precautionary measures.

  • Stop drinking. Do not consume more alcohol! Any additional booze can quickly shift the situation from unpleasant to dangerous.

  • Don’t add medications. Don’t take other medications to “balance out” the side effects of alcohol or NyQuil, and definitely avoid anything containing the active ingredients of NyQuil —acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, or doxylamine.

  • Enlist a helper. Consider reaching out to a trusted friend or family member to check on you and help you monitor your symptoms.

  • Monitor your symptoms. Check in with yourself and stay aware of your symptoms so you know when it’s time to seek help.

If you’ve combined small amounts of NyQuil and alcohol, don’t panic. Just stay in tune with your body and look out for signs you may need medical attention.

Danger Signs

Everyone’s body reacts differently to both alcohol and NyQuil, and individual factors like age and overall health play a big part in how we might react to the combination. The most important thing to do is listen to your body. If something feels wrong, get help, and don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if any of your symptoms become severe!

Here are a few danger signs that require immediate attention:

  • Rapid heart rate (above 110 bpm)
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Avoiding alcohol while sick is essential if we want to get back to good health quickly. Medications like NyQuil are helpful in reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of cold and flu. However, for those of us making a firm effort to steer clear of alcohol, there are plenty of options that don’t involve drinking or using alcohol-containing cold and flu medicines.

Alternatives to Alcohol-Based NyQuil

There are a host of over-the-counter cold and flu medications that don’t contain alcohol, including a variety of NyQuil products. Let’s review some alcohol-free ways to treat cold and flu. 

  • Alcohol-free cold medications. There are a variety of alcohol-free NyQuil products and generic counterparts (check the first section here for a list!). Ask a pharmacist or your doctor for more alcohol-free cold and flu medication options, and always check product labels for clarification.

  • Decongestants. Decongestants such as Sudafed can help open the airways to relieve congestion. Nasal sprays and nasal rinses can also help clear things out in the sinuses.

  • Pain relievers. Consider pain and fever relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Note that many cold medications already contain acetaminophen. Do not take acetaminophen with other medications also containing acetaminophen as this can cause liver damage.
  • Cough medications. Cough suppressant products such as Robitussin, Delsum, or cough drops can help relieve the urge to cough, while guaifenesin (Mucinex) can help break up mucus and make it easier to pass.

  • Natural remedies. Natural remedies for cold and flu symptoms include drinking enough water, getting plenty of rest, saline spray or drops, steam showers or hot water bowls, and cool mist vaporizers or humidifiers

Just because a product doesn’t contain alcohol does not mean it is safe to take with alcohol! Read labels and consult a doctor before taking any of these over-the-counter medications. Ultimately, recovering from a cold or flu takes time and rest! Medications or natural remedies can help us tolerate symptoms, but they will not cure them.

Key Takeaways

Colds and flus are quite unpleasant to deal with. We might think it’s a good idea to have a drink to take the edge off, but as we’ve learned throughout this blog, drinking may actually make our symptoms worse and extend our illness. Most cold and flu medications should not be mixed with alcohol, and it’s an especially bad idea to take NyQuil with alcohol!

Liquid NyQuil contains 10% alcohol, so if we are trying to avoid alcohol, we can try one of the many alcohol-free cold and flu remedies out there. We can also help prevent the next illness by exercising, eating healthy, and quitting or cutting back on alcohol — all of which will boost our immune system and overall health!

Alcohol and Health
2024-04-06 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Tramadol and Alcohol: Interactions and Risk
This is some text inside of a div block.

As an opioid, Tramadol is a prescription medication used for pain relief. Consuming alcohol while taking Tramadol is extremely dangerous and significantly increases the chances of having an overdose.

14 min read

Drink Less and Thrive 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 hundreds 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!

Read Full Article  →

Pain from a recent surgery or injury can be a burden. For relief, we may be prescribed an opioid such as Tramadol. As we start to recover, we might be tempted to start our normal routines and activities. That Friday night happy hour with coworkers sounds like the perfect way to unwind after a long week! But wait … what about that Tramadol? What happens if we have just one drink? Is it safe? 

In this blog, we will learn that it is not safe to drink alcohol while taking Tramadol. Keep reading to learn the science behind the dangers of mixing alcohol and Tramadol. Learn some tips for cutting back on both substances and when it is safe to drink alcohol after we stop taking Tramadol.

What Is Tramadol? 

a person holding meds in one hand and an alcohol bottle in the other hand

Tramadol is a prescription medication used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It is in the class of medications called opioids, which are derived from or mimic the opium poppy plant. Opioids are prescribed by physicians for pain management but are known for being highly addictive. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid and has a lower level of opioid content than other opioids such as morphine, oxycodone, or fentanyl, so it is thought to have lower addiction potential than others. Taking Tramadol outside of the prescription parameters is illegal and has dangerous consequences! 

How Tramadol Works

Tramadol is a depressant drug, meaning it slows down the central nervous system by acting on opioid receptors and neurotransmitters in our brains. Our brains have an endogenous (built-in) opioid-production system that helps us cope with stress and pain while increasing feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and contentment.

Endogenous opioids also control our breathing, coughing, and that warm, relaxed, satisfied feeling following exercise. When we take Tramadol, it partially binds to our opioid receptors, which then release endorphins (euphoria hormones) that reduce the sensation of pain. 

Tramadol vs. Other Opioids

Tramadol is not one of the strongest opioids, because it doesn’t bind as strongly to opioid receptors. However, Tramadol affects other neurotransmitters in our brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that are responsible for communication between the cells (neurons). 

Tramadol impacts the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin. Norepinephrine is known as the body's “fight-or-flight” chemical and is responsible for the regulation of arousal, attention, cognitive function, and stress reaction. That rapid increase in heart rate after hearing a loud noise comes from norepinephrine. Serotonin is referred to as the “happy” chemical because it regulates feelings of satisfaction, happiness, and optimism.

Tramadol increases the release of serotonin and blocks the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine to neurons. By blocking reabsorption of excess serotonin and norepinephrine, there are more feel-good chemicals to act on nearby neurons and change our thoughts or behavior and reduce our pain.

Side Effects of Tramadol

Tramadol is effective at reducing moderate to severe pain, but it does come at a cost. Let’s review some common side effects associated with Tramadol.

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness, tired, “spaced out”
  • Nausea, vomiting, heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating 
  • Low energy

Serious (and less common) side effects include the following:

  • Extreme dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Extreme fatigue 

There is a risk for overdose with Tramadol if we do not follow the medically prescribed doses. If you notice any of the following signs of overdose, immediately seek emergency medical care! 

  • Loss or change of consciousness 
  • Lack of awareness or unresponsive 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Lack of muscle tone
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pinpointed pupils 
  • Severe sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Slow or irregular heart rate 

Tramadol misuse can be dangerous to our health. If we take Tramadol as prescribed, we might only experience minor side effects. Before we decide to have a drink while we are on Tramadol, let’s figure out how alcohol and Tramadol might interact.

Tramadol and Alcohol Interactions and Risks

Is It Dangerous To Mix Tramadol and Alcohol? 

You should never drink alcohol while on Tramadol or other opioids! It doesn’t matter if it's beer, wine, or your favorite spirit — even a low amount of alcohol can have life-threatening consequences! Let’s go through some of the dangers of having alcohol and Tramadol.

  • Increased chance of overdose. Tramadol and alcohol slow our brains down, which can impact key functions such as breathing and heart rate. If the effects are severe enough, the combination can result in unconsciousness or death. 
  • Enhanced side effects. Drinking alcohol while on Tramadol can intensify the reaction to both substances. The mix can lead to atypical reactions such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, blurred vision, increased blood pressure, insomnia, coma, or seizures. 
  • Increased risk of accidents or injury. The intense lack of alertness, coordination, or impaired judgment can lead to risky decision-making that can result in injury to ourselves or others. 
  • Damage to the liver. Alcohol and Tramadol are both metabolized in the liver. Both substances can cause extra strain on the liver and lead to liver-related diseases. When paired, the liver has to work overtime, amplifying the stress. 

Drinking alcohol while on Tramadol is not advised! It can lead to severe consequences such as injury or death!

Treating Comorbid Substance Use Disorders

Treatment for polysubstance drug dependence (misusing more than one drug at once) must focus on treating both substances at once to have the best success. It’s not easy quitting multiple substances at once, but thankfully there are ways to make quitting alcohol and Tramadol more manageable.

  • Detox. The first step to quitting both substances is ridding them from the body through a detoxification process. During this time, the body will go through withdrawal symptoms for both substances. Detoxing at a hospital or medical facility is the safest option due to the risks associated with withdrawal. 
  • Therapy. Talk therapy or counseling can help along the way to sobriety. There are many options for therapy such as cognitive behavioral, art, or psychotherapy. Finding one that is best for you can help with the road to recovery. 
  • Support groups. Support groups can be a great resource — they offer validation and encouragement during the recovery process. A supportive community is a pivotal factor in successful recovery.

Abruptly stopping Tramadol and alcohol can be dangerous! Quitting alcohol cold turkey can result in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or delirium tremens. Seek advice from medical professionals before attempting to quit Tramadol and alcohol use. 

Other Medications To Avoid Mixing With Tramadol 

There are many other medications that are unsafe to mix with Tramadol. In general, sedatives or medications that slow the brain, medications that raise serotonin levels, or other opioids should be avoided while taking Tramadol. Let’s review some other substances that you should not mix with Tramadol. 

  • Antidepressants (e.g., bupropion (Wellbutrin), fluoxetine (Prozac), or paroxetine (Paxil))
  • Benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium, or Klonopin)
  • Sleep medications (e.g., Ambien, Edlura, ZolpiMist)
  • Barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital, secobarbital)
  • Muscle relaxants (tizanidine, methocarbamol, diazepam (Valium))
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Other opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine)

Always consult your physician and a pharmacist before adding any medications to your regimen.

How To Wait Before Drinking After Tramadol 

We learned that drinking alcohol while taking Tramadol can be extremely dangerous, but you may be wondering, “How long after taking Tramadol can I drink alcohol?”

Tramadol has a half-life of six to eight hours. A half-life is the amount of time our bodies take to reduce the amount of drug by one half. It takes the body about four or five half-lives to fully get rid of Tramadol. It’s safest to wait 30-40 hours after our last dose of Tramadol before we start drinking. That’s about a day and a half.

Key Takeaways

Tramadol is an opioid medication used to treat pain. Alcohol and Tramadol are both depressants and when taken together, they can intensify one another’s side effects. We should not drink alcohol while on Tramadol because it can lead to serious side effects and increase our chances of overdose. Trying to quit both substances at once can be dangerous and it’s advised to seek medical attention while detoxing.

Pain from a recent surgery or injury can be a burden. For relief, we may be prescribed an opioid such as Tramadol. As we start to recover, we might be tempted to start our normal routines and activities. That Friday night happy hour with coworkers sounds like the perfect way to unwind after a long week! But wait … what about that Tramadol? What happens if we have just one drink? Is it safe? 

In this blog, we will learn that it is not safe to drink alcohol while taking Tramadol. Keep reading to learn the science behind the dangers of mixing alcohol and Tramadol. Learn some tips for cutting back on both substances and when it is safe to drink alcohol after we stop taking Tramadol.

What Is Tramadol? 

a person holding meds in one hand and an alcohol bottle in the other hand

Tramadol is a prescription medication used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It is in the class of medications called opioids, which are derived from or mimic the opium poppy plant. Opioids are prescribed by physicians for pain management but are known for being highly addictive. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid and has a lower level of opioid content than other opioids such as morphine, oxycodone, or fentanyl, so it is thought to have lower addiction potential than others. Taking Tramadol outside of the prescription parameters is illegal and has dangerous consequences! 

How Tramadol Works

Tramadol is a depressant drug, meaning it slows down the central nervous system by acting on opioid receptors and neurotransmitters in our brains. Our brains have an endogenous (built-in) opioid-production system that helps us cope with stress and pain while increasing feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and contentment.

Endogenous opioids also control our breathing, coughing, and that warm, relaxed, satisfied feeling following exercise. When we take Tramadol, it partially binds to our opioid receptors, which then release endorphins (euphoria hormones) that reduce the sensation of pain. 

Tramadol vs. Other Opioids

Tramadol is not one of the strongest opioids, because it doesn’t bind as strongly to opioid receptors. However, Tramadol affects other neurotransmitters in our brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that are responsible for communication between the cells (neurons). 

Tramadol impacts the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin. Norepinephrine is known as the body's “fight-or-flight” chemical and is responsible for the regulation of arousal, attention, cognitive function, and stress reaction. That rapid increase in heart rate after hearing a loud noise comes from norepinephrine. Serotonin is referred to as the “happy” chemical because it regulates feelings of satisfaction, happiness, and optimism.

Tramadol increases the release of serotonin and blocks the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine to neurons. By blocking reabsorption of excess serotonin and norepinephrine, there are more feel-good chemicals to act on nearby neurons and change our thoughts or behavior and reduce our pain.

Side Effects of Tramadol

Tramadol is effective at reducing moderate to severe pain, but it does come at a cost. Let’s review some common side effects associated with Tramadol.

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness, tired, “spaced out”
  • Nausea, vomiting, heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating 
  • Low energy

Serious (and less common) side effects include the following:

  • Extreme dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Extreme fatigue 

There is a risk for overdose with Tramadol if we do not follow the medically prescribed doses. If you notice any of the following signs of overdose, immediately seek emergency medical care! 

  • Loss or change of consciousness 
  • Lack of awareness or unresponsive 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Lack of muscle tone
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pinpointed pupils 
  • Severe sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Slow or irregular heart rate 

Tramadol misuse can be dangerous to our health. If we take Tramadol as prescribed, we might only experience minor side effects. Before we decide to have a drink while we are on Tramadol, let’s figure out how alcohol and Tramadol might interact.

Tramadol and Alcohol Interactions and Risks

Is It Dangerous To Mix Tramadol and Alcohol? 

You should never drink alcohol while on Tramadol or other opioids! It doesn’t matter if it's beer, wine, or your favorite spirit — even a low amount of alcohol can have life-threatening consequences! Let’s go through some of the dangers of having alcohol and Tramadol.

  • Increased chance of overdose. Tramadol and alcohol slow our brains down, which can impact key functions such as breathing and heart rate. If the effects are severe enough, the combination can result in unconsciousness or death. 
  • Enhanced side effects. Drinking alcohol while on Tramadol can intensify the reaction to both substances. The mix can lead to atypical reactions such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, blurred vision, increased blood pressure, insomnia, coma, or seizures. 
  • Increased risk of accidents or injury. The intense lack of alertness, coordination, or impaired judgment can lead to risky decision-making that can result in injury to ourselves or others. 
  • Damage to the liver. Alcohol and Tramadol are both metabolized in the liver. Both substances can cause extra strain on the liver and lead to liver-related diseases. When paired, the liver has to work overtime, amplifying the stress. 

Drinking alcohol while on Tramadol is not advised! It can lead to severe consequences such as injury or death!

Treating Comorbid Substance Use Disorders

Treatment for polysubstance drug dependence (misusing more than one drug at once) must focus on treating both substances at once to have the best success. It’s not easy quitting multiple substances at once, but thankfully there are ways to make quitting alcohol and Tramadol more manageable.

  • Detox. The first step to quitting both substances is ridding them from the body through a detoxification process. During this time, the body will go through withdrawal symptoms for both substances. Detoxing at a hospital or medical facility is the safest option due to the risks associated with withdrawal. 
  • Therapy. Talk therapy or counseling can help along the way to sobriety. There are many options for therapy such as cognitive behavioral, art, or psychotherapy. Finding one that is best for you can help with the road to recovery. 
  • Support groups. Support groups can be a great resource — they offer validation and encouragement during the recovery process. A supportive community is a pivotal factor in successful recovery.

Abruptly stopping Tramadol and alcohol can be dangerous! Quitting alcohol cold turkey can result in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or delirium tremens. Seek advice from medical professionals before attempting to quit Tramadol and alcohol use. 

Other Medications To Avoid Mixing With Tramadol 

There are many other medications that are unsafe to mix with Tramadol. In general, sedatives or medications that slow the brain, medications that raise serotonin levels, or other opioids should be avoided while taking Tramadol. Let’s review some other substances that you should not mix with Tramadol. 

  • Antidepressants (e.g., bupropion (Wellbutrin), fluoxetine (Prozac), or paroxetine (Paxil))
  • Benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium, or Klonopin)
  • Sleep medications (e.g., Ambien, Edlura, ZolpiMist)
  • Barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital, secobarbital)
  • Muscle relaxants (tizanidine, methocarbamol, diazepam (Valium))
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Other opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine)

Always consult your physician and a pharmacist before adding any medications to your regimen.

How To Wait Before Drinking After Tramadol 

We learned that drinking alcohol while taking Tramadol can be extremely dangerous, but you may be wondering, “How long after taking Tramadol can I drink alcohol?”

Tramadol has a half-life of six to eight hours. A half-life is the amount of time our bodies take to reduce the amount of drug by one half. It takes the body about four or five half-lives to fully get rid of Tramadol. It’s safest to wait 30-40 hours after our last dose of Tramadol before we start drinking. That’s about a day and a half.

Key Takeaways

Tramadol is an opioid medication used to treat pain. Alcohol and Tramadol are both depressants and when taken together, they can intensify one another’s side effects. We should not drink alcohol while on Tramadol because it can lead to serious side effects and increase our chances of overdose. Trying to quit both substances at once can be dangerous and it’s advised to seek medical attention while detoxing.

Alcohol and Health
2024-04-06 9:00
Alcohol and Health
All You Need To Know About Moonshine
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What is the mystery behind moonshine? Learn about how moonshine came to be and the science behind the dangers of consuming moonshine.

19 min read

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The definition of moonshine is confusing at best. You may be thinking, “Isn’t moonshine that drink that can make you blind?” Or maybe you think of it as the famous Prohibition-era booze that people made at home in their bathtubs. Even the hip-hop and country music star Nelly was a bit confused on the “moonshine” label as he crafted his own celebrity “moonshine” last year, which really consisted more of a fruity, lower-proof spirit than the traditional moonshine whiskey.

Many people think of moonshine as some sort of off-limits alcohol, but it’s also a term for a class of unaged whiskey.

So, what exactly makes moonshine, moonshine? Let’s dive in and explore the difference between the two definitions of moonshine and learn about the dangers of moonshine production and consumption.

What Is Moonshine?

The first moonshine came around in England in the late 1700s, but the word moonshine has been around since the 15th century. Fundamentally, moonshine was created to avoid paying taxes on high-proof liquor production.

Originally, the term “moonshine” referred to a distilled liquor produced and/or distributed illegally. The term “moonshine” comes from the tradition of making the liquor under the cover of darkness to avoid detection. Over the years, it developed a standard definition as a clear, unaged, high-proof whiskey made from corn. This definition was commonly used during Prohibition in the U.S. in the 1920s. Other names for moonshine include rotgut, white lightning, white dog, and corn liquor.

History of Moonshine in the United States

Moonshine has a particularly rich history in the United States.

  • The Whiskey Rebellion. Moonshine first became popular in Pennsylvania in 1791 after the new federal government enacted a hefty tax on liquor to repay debts from the Revolutionary War. This sparked three years of (sometimes violent) protests known as the Whiskey Rebellion, during which Pennsylvania farmers and distillers attacked and intimidated tax inspectors to prevent them from collecting the tax. Moonshine production was a popular nonviolent way to protest the tax
  • The Whiskey Ring. History repeated itself in St. Louis in the 1870s when another tax was enacted to raise money after the American Civil War. A group of Missouri distillers and farmers known as The Whiskey Ring conspired against the government and bribed officials so they could pocket the taxes themselves. For many, moonshine was the only way to afford liquor or turn a profit on liquor sales.
  • Prohibition. Federal alcohol prohibition laws came to the U.S. in 1920. Since liquor was now illegal and very hard to come by, demand for moonshine significantly increased and producers began experimenting with innovative flavors and additives.

Types of Moonshine

Traditionally, moonshine is made from corn. However, sometimes moonshiners (a.k.a. people who make moonshine) use rye or barley instead. Yeast, malt, sugar, and water are also added to the mix with each moonshiner having their own particular preference.

Moonshine was originally popular because it could be created and purchased without paying taxes, but in modern times it’s sought out for its flavor and high alcohol content. Ethanol is the pure alcohol responsible for intoxication in alcoholic beverages. However, the moonshine distillation process creates a toxic byproduct called methanol that can have deadly consequences when consumed.

Moonshine is known for having significantly higher alcohol content than other hard liquors. Vodka, bourbon, and gin, for example, do not generally reach an alcohol by volume (ABV) above 80% alcohol content, and typically rest in the 35%-50% range. Moonshine, however, is often much higher.

The key to moonshine’s high alcohol content lies in the production process. Keep reading to understand how the chemical composition of moonshine makes it up to 95% ABV — and how this can cause blindness or death to consumers if distilled improperly.

How Is Moonshine Made

How Is Moonshine Made?

The most popular way to make moonshine is using a still. A still is a large, multi-chamber pot used to boil a liquid and extract certain chemicals (such as ethanol). Moonshine, in particular, uses a copper still.

  • Fermentation. First, the corn is cooked in water to create a slurry known as “mash.” Then, it is cooled and mixed with sugar and yeast and left to ferment. The yeast eats the sugar and produces ethanol as a waste product.
  • Boiling. After the mash has fermented, it is filtered and transferred into a still, where it is heated to a boil.
  • Evaporation. Ethanol has a lower evaporation temperature than water. As the mash boils, alcohol evaporates and is collected in another chamber, where it cools and condenses into a glass jar called a receiver.
  • Bottling. The moonshine is then removed from the receiver, filtered, and bottled.

Some moonshiners add flavors or other ingredients at the end, such as sugar, fruit juice, or herbal mixtures. However, these flavor additives may not be the only things hidden inside this insidious liquor.

Moonshine vs. Other Spirits

The moonshine distillation process is very similar to the process for making other types of spirits. However, a few key details make all the difference.

Moonshine, when defined as the beverage, is an unaged clear whiskey and made from corn. It can also be up to 95% alcohol, which is much more alcohol content than most hard liquors. Let’s explore how this is different from a few other hard spirits.

  • Whiskey generally uses the same ingredients as moonshine and is typically aged, which produces its signature honey-amber color.
  • Vodka is a clear alcohol that, like moonshine, is not aged. Vodka can be produced from grain, fruit, or potatoes, and it’s usually distilled several times to remove impurities and other substances.
  • Gin is also a clear hard liquor, but gin is made from grain alcohol and juniper berries. Many types of plants and sugars can be used to adjust the process, but juniper berries are fundamental to its definition.
  • Tequila is made from agave and produced mainly in certain regions of Mexico. The agave plant is baked in a brick or clay oven called a “horno,” after which juice is extracted from the plant to be fermented, distilled, and aged.

These may seem similar, but the only big thing these liquors have in common is that they are all distilled. The process of moonshine distillation differs just slightly from other liquors, but it makes a huge difference.

Risks of Moonshine Production

The primary difference between common liquors and moonshine is that careful attention is paid to removing impurities from standard liquor, often with multiple rounds of distillation. By definition, moonshine is typically distilled only once.

Originally, moonshine was illegal due to its association with tax evasion. Even today there are many “illegal” distilleries that create moonshine in secret to avoid taxes, but they are less common because even major distilleries make commercial moonshine.

The danger with moonshine comes from the production process itself. If the distillation process is not done correctly, moonshine can contain high levels of a more toxic form of alcohol: methanol.

Methanol and ethanol — the two types of alcohol produced when making moonshine — are both highly flammable and have the potential to explode during the distillation process. A gas leak between the distillation apparatus and the receiving container could also spark an explosion. Ventilation is important, and illegal moonshine is often produced in noncommercial settings that were not designed with this in mind.

So, is moonshine bad for you? We know moonshine production can be dangerous, especially when moonshiners are inexperienced and don’t understand the precautions necessary for safety — and, unfortunately, drinking it can be just as dangerous.

Why Is Moonshine Dangerous?

So, what is so dangerous about drinking moonshine? It has a reputation as a dangerous liquor, but the details are not often discussed. As we mentioned earlier, methanol is a form of alcohol created during moonshine production alongside the commonly known ethanol. The differences between ethanol and methanol are molecular, and they impact our body in dramatically different ways.

Humans can tolerate generous amounts of ethanol, but only a few milliliters of methanol will get us extremely drunk, and it only takes a few more milliliters later for methanol to become lethal. Our liver processes methanol into formaldehyde and later into formic acid. As little as 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of methanol produces enough formic acid to cause blindness.

Because moonshine and methanol are both clear liquids, it’s impossible to tell if moonshine contains any methanol just by looking at it. Commercial moonshine producers have the means to eliminate methanol after distillation, but some illegal moonshiners actually add small amounts of methanol to make the drink stronger.

There is no reliable way to test for methanol content in illicit moonshine. Upon first sip, we simply get really drunk — and we might not know whether or not methanol is responsible.

The Lethality of Methanol

Just 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of methanol is enough to give us the worst hangover of our life, but as we know, any more than that is damaging to our eyesight. For context, one standard shot glass contains about 9 tsp (3 tbsp/44 mL). Drinking too much methanol can result in full or partial blindness. This result is called methanol-induced optic neuropathy, or Me-ION.

Me-ION causes damage to the optic nerve, which connects visual information to our brain for interpretation. Any damage to this nerve behind either eye will result in different types of (or complete) vision loss.

The lethal dose of methanol is 6 tsp (2 tbsp/30 mL). Some people may not need that much methanol for it to be lethal, either. In facilities where moonshine is still being produced illegally, there is no way of telling how many shots or glasses of moonshine will contain lethal amounts of methanol. Remember: moonshine that is made illicitly may be stronger because methanol has been added. 

Our chances of alcohol poisoning are also higher when methanol is present because of how little methanol is needed to get drunk. Not only are we putting ourselves at risk for lethal doses of methanol, but we are also putting ourselves at risk for violent hangovers and alcohol-related experiences when drinking illicitly produced moonshine. So how do we avoid this?

The Truth About Moonshine Safety

Simply put, moonshine made illegally is never guaranteed safe to drink! For this reason, it’s probably best to avoid moonshine produced outside of a licensed commercial facility, and it’s definitely best to avoid making our own moonshine.

A high alcohol tolerance may lead us to seek out moonshine for an easier “buzz.” After all, a small amount of methanol will get us more drunk than several glasses of beer, right? But the risks associated with methanol consumption are too great, and we are putting our lives at risk when we decide to drink something with methanol. High tolerance can allow us to handle a little more methanol than a casual drinker, but there’s only so much the human body can handle regardless of how the alcohol content makes us feel.

Thankfully, there are ways to stay safe and avoid the dangers of methanol in moonshine.


  • Keep it legal. Stay away from distilleries and moonshiners who don’t have proper licenses! This is a non-negotiable to ensure safety.

  • Leave it to the pros. Don’t make moonshine at home, and avoid consuming homemade moonshine even if it’s from a trusted friend or family member. Leave the chemistry to the scientists for this one!

  • Stay informed. Educate yourself on small distilleries and alcohol shops before purchasing moonshine. Does the shop or bar have a reputation for distributing alcohol under the radar?

  • Consider alternatives. The best way to avoid methanol is to stay away from commercial moonshine and stay away from drinks containing any amount of moonshine.

The Bottom Line

Throughout history, moonshine has been described romantically as a boozy rebellion to taxation, but now we know it is illegal for a reason — its high risk of causing permanent disability. While it may be tempting to try a beverage as strong as moonshine, remember the dangerous consequences of moonshine consumption if it’s not regulated properly. Stay safe and remember: knowledge is power!

The definition of moonshine is confusing at best. You may be thinking, “Isn’t moonshine that drink that can make you blind?” Or maybe you think of it as the famous Prohibition-era booze that people made at home in their bathtubs. Even the hip-hop and country music star Nelly was a bit confused on the “moonshine” label as he crafted his own celebrity “moonshine” last year, which really consisted more of a fruity, lower-proof spirit than the traditional moonshine whiskey.

Many people think of moonshine as some sort of off-limits alcohol, but it’s also a term for a class of unaged whiskey.

So, what exactly makes moonshine, moonshine? Let’s dive in and explore the difference between the two definitions of moonshine and learn about the dangers of moonshine production and consumption.

What Is Moonshine?

The first moonshine came around in England in the late 1700s, but the word moonshine has been around since the 15th century. Fundamentally, moonshine was created to avoid paying taxes on high-proof liquor production.

Originally, the term “moonshine” referred to a distilled liquor produced and/or distributed illegally. The term “moonshine” comes from the tradition of making the liquor under the cover of darkness to avoid detection. Over the years, it developed a standard definition as a clear, unaged, high-proof whiskey made from corn. This definition was commonly used during Prohibition in the U.S. in the 1920s. Other names for moonshine include rotgut, white lightning, white dog, and corn liquor.

History of Moonshine in the United States

Moonshine has a particularly rich history in the United States.

  • The Whiskey Rebellion. Moonshine first became popular in Pennsylvania in 1791 after the new federal government enacted a hefty tax on liquor to repay debts from the Revolutionary War. This sparked three years of (sometimes violent) protests known as the Whiskey Rebellion, during which Pennsylvania farmers and distillers attacked and intimidated tax inspectors to prevent them from collecting the tax. Moonshine production was a popular nonviolent way to protest the tax
  • The Whiskey Ring. History repeated itself in St. Louis in the 1870s when another tax was enacted to raise money after the American Civil War. A group of Missouri distillers and farmers known as The Whiskey Ring conspired against the government and bribed officials so they could pocket the taxes themselves. For many, moonshine was the only way to afford liquor or turn a profit on liquor sales.
  • Prohibition. Federal alcohol prohibition laws came to the U.S. in 1920. Since liquor was now illegal and very hard to come by, demand for moonshine significantly increased and producers began experimenting with innovative flavors and additives.

Types of Moonshine

Traditionally, moonshine is made from corn. However, sometimes moonshiners (a.k.a. people who make moonshine) use rye or barley instead. Yeast, malt, sugar, and water are also added to the mix with each moonshiner having their own particular preference.

Moonshine was originally popular because it could be created and purchased without paying taxes, but in modern times it’s sought out for its flavor and high alcohol content. Ethanol is the pure alcohol responsible for intoxication in alcoholic beverages. However, the moonshine distillation process creates a toxic byproduct called methanol that can have deadly consequences when consumed.

Moonshine is known for having significantly higher alcohol content than other hard liquors. Vodka, bourbon, and gin, for example, do not generally reach an alcohol by volume (ABV) above 80% alcohol content, and typically rest in the 35%-50% range. Moonshine, however, is often much higher.

The key to moonshine’s high alcohol content lies in the production process. Keep reading to understand how the chemical composition of moonshine makes it up to 95% ABV — and how this can cause blindness or death to consumers if distilled improperly.

How Is Moonshine Made

How Is Moonshine Made?

The most popular way to make moonshine is using a still. A still is a large, multi-chamber pot used to boil a liquid and extract certain chemicals (such as ethanol). Moonshine, in particular, uses a copper still.

  • Fermentation. First, the corn is cooked in water to create a slurry known as “mash.” Then, it is cooled and mixed with sugar and yeast and left to ferment. The yeast eats the sugar and produces ethanol as a waste product.
  • Boiling. After the mash has fermented, it is filtered and transferred into a still, where it is heated to a boil.
  • Evaporation. Ethanol has a lower evaporation temperature than water. As the mash boils, alcohol evaporates and is collected in another chamber, where it cools and condenses into a glass jar called a receiver.
  • Bottling. The moonshine is then removed from the receiver, filtered, and bottled.

Some moonshiners add flavors or other ingredients at the end, such as sugar, fruit juice, or herbal mixtures. However, these flavor additives may not be the only things hidden inside this insidious liquor.

Moonshine vs. Other Spirits

The moonshine distillation process is very similar to the process for making other types of spirits. However, a few key details make all the difference.

Moonshine, when defined as the beverage, is an unaged clear whiskey and made from corn. It can also be up to 95% alcohol, which is much more alcohol content than most hard liquors. Let’s explore how this is different from a few other hard spirits.

  • Whiskey generally uses the same ingredients as moonshine and is typically aged, which produces its signature honey-amber color.
  • Vodka is a clear alcohol that, like moonshine, is not aged. Vodka can be produced from grain, fruit, or potatoes, and it’s usually distilled several times to remove impurities and other substances.
  • Gin is also a clear hard liquor, but gin is made from grain alcohol and juniper berries. Many types of plants and sugars can be used to adjust the process, but juniper berries are fundamental to its definition.
  • Tequila is made from agave and produced mainly in certain regions of Mexico. The agave plant is baked in a brick or clay oven called a “horno,” after which juice is extracted from the plant to be fermented, distilled, and aged.

These may seem similar, but the only big thing these liquors have in common is that they are all distilled. The process of moonshine distillation differs just slightly from other liquors, but it makes a huge difference.

Risks of Moonshine Production

The primary difference between common liquors and moonshine is that careful attention is paid to removing impurities from standard liquor, often with multiple rounds of distillation. By definition, moonshine is typically distilled only once.

Originally, moonshine was illegal due to its association with tax evasion. Even today there are many “illegal” distilleries that create moonshine in secret to avoid taxes, but they are less common because even major distilleries make commercial moonshine.

The danger with moonshine comes from the production process itself. If the distillation process is not done correctly, moonshine can contain high levels of a more toxic form of alcohol: methanol.

Methanol and ethanol — the two types of alcohol produced when making moonshine — are both highly flammable and have the potential to explode during the distillation process. A gas leak between the distillation apparatus and the receiving container could also spark an explosion. Ventilation is important, and illegal moonshine is often produced in noncommercial settings that were not designed with this in mind.

So, is moonshine bad for you? We know moonshine production can be dangerous, especially when moonshiners are inexperienced and don’t understand the precautions necessary for safety — and, unfortunately, drinking it can be just as dangerous.

Why Is Moonshine Dangerous?

So, what is so dangerous about drinking moonshine? It has a reputation as a dangerous liquor, but the details are not often discussed. As we mentioned earlier, methanol is a form of alcohol created during moonshine production alongside the commonly known ethanol. The differences between ethanol and methanol are molecular, and they impact our body in dramatically different ways.

Humans can tolerate generous amounts of ethanol, but only a few milliliters of methanol will get us extremely drunk, and it only takes a few more milliliters later for methanol to become lethal. Our liver processes methanol into formaldehyde and later into formic acid. As little as 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of methanol produces enough formic acid to cause blindness.

Because moonshine and methanol are both clear liquids, it’s impossible to tell if moonshine contains any methanol just by looking at it. Commercial moonshine producers have the means to eliminate methanol after distillation, but some illegal moonshiners actually add small amounts of methanol to make the drink stronger.

There is no reliable way to test for methanol content in illicit moonshine. Upon first sip, we simply get really drunk — and we might not know whether or not methanol is responsible.

The Lethality of Methanol

Just 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of methanol is enough to give us the worst hangover of our life, but as we know, any more than that is damaging to our eyesight. For context, one standard shot glass contains about 9 tsp (3 tbsp/44 mL). Drinking too much methanol can result in full or partial blindness. This result is called methanol-induced optic neuropathy, or Me-ION.

Me-ION causes damage to the optic nerve, which connects visual information to our brain for interpretation. Any damage to this nerve behind either eye will result in different types of (or complete) vision loss.

The lethal dose of methanol is 6 tsp (2 tbsp/30 mL). Some people may not need that much methanol for it to be lethal, either. In facilities where moonshine is still being produced illegally, there is no way of telling how many shots or glasses of moonshine will contain lethal amounts of methanol. Remember: moonshine that is made illicitly may be stronger because methanol has been added. 

Our chances of alcohol poisoning are also higher when methanol is present because of how little methanol is needed to get drunk. Not only are we putting ourselves at risk for lethal doses of methanol, but we are also putting ourselves at risk for violent hangovers and alcohol-related experiences when drinking illicitly produced moonshine. So how do we avoid this?

The Truth About Moonshine Safety

Simply put, moonshine made illegally is never guaranteed safe to drink! For this reason, it’s probably best to avoid moonshine produced outside of a licensed commercial facility, and it’s definitely best to avoid making our own moonshine.

A high alcohol tolerance may lead us to seek out moonshine for an easier “buzz.” After all, a small amount of methanol will get us more drunk than several glasses of beer, right? But the risks associated with methanol consumption are too great, and we are putting our lives at risk when we decide to drink something with methanol. High tolerance can allow us to handle a little more methanol than a casual drinker, but there’s only so much the human body can handle regardless of how the alcohol content makes us feel.

Thankfully, there are ways to stay safe and avoid the dangers of methanol in moonshine.


  • Keep it legal. Stay away from distilleries and moonshiners who don’t have proper licenses! This is a non-negotiable to ensure safety.

  • Leave it to the pros. Don’t make moonshine at home, and avoid consuming homemade moonshine even if it’s from a trusted friend or family member. Leave the chemistry to the scientists for this one!

  • Stay informed. Educate yourself on small distilleries and alcohol shops before purchasing moonshine. Does the shop or bar have a reputation for distributing alcohol under the radar?

  • Consider alternatives. The best way to avoid methanol is to stay away from commercial moonshine and stay away from drinks containing any amount of moonshine.

The Bottom Line

Throughout history, moonshine has been described romantically as a boozy rebellion to taxation, but now we know it is illegal for a reason — its high risk of causing permanent disability. While it may be tempting to try a beverage as strong as moonshine, remember the dangerous consequences of moonshine consumption if it’s not regulated properly. Stay safe and remember: knowledge is power!

Alcohol and Health
2024-04-03 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Can a Hangover Cause a Fever?
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If you’ve ever had a fever and chills after drinking alcohol, you’re not imagining things! Learn the science behind this phenomenon and how to stay safe.

19 min read

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Read Full Article  →

Imagine this: After an evening of having a few drinks with friends, you wake up feeling crummy, but this isn’t a usual hangover. It’s not just the typical headache and nausea, but also an unusual warmth flooding your body. You reach for the thermometer, and there it is — a fever. How did a night of drinking lead to feeling feverish the next day?

Is there a direct link between alcohol consumption and developing a fever? Or are these feelings just another dimension of the dreaded hangover? In this article, we'll dive into the effects of alcohol on the body, dissect the relationship between drinking and experiencing fever or chills, and explore whether "alcohol fever" is a myth or a medical reality. We'll also touch upon the risks of drinking when you’re already sick and provide guidance on when it might be time to seek medical attention.

So, if you've ever found yourself feeling unusually warm after a night out, read on to discover what's really happening inside your body.

Understanding Alcohol's Impact on the Body

As soon as we take a sip of alcohol, it starts making its way through our body. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it slows down nerve signals in our body. From the moment it touches our tongue, alcohol gets to work by dulling our sense of taste!

A hungover guy on a bed reaching out for a wine bottle

Alcohol is mostly absorbed into our bloodstream from our stomach and intestines. From there, it travels throughout the body and brain and changes how our neurotransmitters function. Here are some of the main neurotransmitters affected.

  • Dopamine. Alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine (the “pleasure-seeking” neurotransmitter), causing us to feel euphoric.


  • GABA and glutamate. Alcohol increases the functionality of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, and decreases the effectiveness of glutamate, a stimulating neurotransmitter. Together, these shifts account for alcohol’s sedative effect.

Meanwhile, our liver is hard at work metabolizing alcohol and getting it out of our system. The liver converts alcohol into a toxic compound called acetaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the nasty hangover symptoms we see the day after drinking.

Our Brain on Hangovers

Our brain doesn’t like being out of balance. To restore the proper ratio of neurotransmitters, the brain changes how much dopamine, glutamate, and GABA it produces. Once alcohol is out of our system, we have a rebound and feel the opposite way we did while drunk. Instead of calm and euphoric, we feel overstimulated and maybe a little down in the dumps.

But there’s more chemical chaos going on inside us than just changes to our neurotransmitters. Our liver is still working to eliminate the by-products of alcohol consumption, including that pesky compound we mentioned earlier: acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde: The Morning-After Villain

The morning after drinking, acetaldehyde is still present in our system, making us feel crummy, achy, and nauseous. Throughout the day, our liver continues its cleanup efforts and gets rid of the acetaldehyde, converting it into acetate and expelling it through our urine.

All of this sounds pretty un-fun, and those of us who have experienced a hangover can confirm how unpleasant it is. But can a hangover cause a fever? 

Acetaldehyde can trigger an inflammatory response as the immune system attempts to fight off the toxin. This can produce fever-like symptoms and chills that trick us into thinking maybe we’re coming down with something.

Acetaldehyde isn’t the only culprit in an alcohol fever — there’s a whole bunch of usual suspects to investigate.

Reasons for Fever and Chills After Drinking Alcohol

Experiencing a fever after drinking alcohol might feel just like being sick, but it's a bit more complex than that. Alcohol interacts with several systems in our body that could produce fever-like symptoms and chills.

  • Vasodilation. Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, leading to a loss of body heat. This causes an initial feeling of warmth (ever had hot skin after drinking or experienced flushing?).

  • Hypothalamus disruption. Alcohol also disrupts the function of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for temperature control. This disruption can make us feel hot one moment and cold the next, mimicking fever and chills.

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and causes dehydration if we don’t replenish with plenty of water. Dehydration can contribute to fever and chills as the body's fluid balance is disrupted, affecting its ability to regulate temperature effectively.

  • Immune system disruption. Alcohol suppresses our immune system by interfering with how immune cells coordinate with one another and rendering them less effective. If we are already fighting off some sort of infection (without being aware of it), that pathogen has a temporary opportunity to mount an offensive. We may develop a low-grade fever after drinking alcohol as our immune system gets back to business.

If we’ve ever felt feverish after drinking, we’re not imagining things! The term "alcohol fever" is a bit of a misnomer, however. In most cases, our “fever” is some combination of the conditions above. 

Rest assured that those fever-like symptoms won’t last too long. Even if we do experience an immune system disruption, it’s likely to be mild, and it should resolve by the next day.

But what happens if we drink when we already have a fever? Can alcohol make things worse? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Drinking With a Fever: Risks and Considerations

Drinking alcohol when we're already battling a fever introduces unnecessary challenges to a body that’s already fighting off foreign invaders. This combo could not only prolong our illness but could also introduce new health complications. Let’s take a closer look at why alcohol and fevers don't mix well.

  • Dehydration. Fever elevates body temperature, leading to increased sweating as our body attempts to cool down. This natural response can quickly lead to dehydration. Alcohol compounds this problem by acting as a diuretic, increasing the risk of serious dehydration and making it even harder for our body to recover.

  • Interference with medication. Many of us turn to over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications to manage fever. Mixing alcohol with common fever and cold medications is risky. Alcohol alters the metabolism of the drugs, either rendering them less effective or interacting with them and increasing the risk of adverse side effects.



    For example, alcohol can increase the drowsiness caused by antipyretics (fever reducers) and some antibiotics, potentially leading to dangerous levels of sedation. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a common pain and fever reliever found in many cold medicines. Tylenol and alcohol compete for attention in the liver, increasing toxicity and risk of liver damage.

  • Impaired immune response. Our body's immune system is already working overtime when we have a fever. Alcohol impairs its ability to fight off infections effectively, prolonging our illness and making us susceptible to secondary infections.
Reasons for Fever and Chills After Drinking Alcohol

Advice for Drinking With a Fever

Drinking alcohol with a fever is not a good idea. It can prolong illness and cause dangerous side effects. If you're feeling unwell or experiencing fever symptoms, the best course of action is to avoid alcohol entirely. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Hydration heals. Focus on hydrating with water, herbal teas, or electrolyte-replenishing drinks. Proper hydration supports your immune system's efforts to fight off illness and helps reduce fever symptoms.
  • Rest is crucial. Your body needs energy to fight off illness, and alcohol interferes with sleep quality. Opt for restful sleep without alcohol to give your body the best chance at a swift recovery.
  • Alternatives help more. If you're trying to relax or looking for relief from discomfort, consider non-alcoholic options that won't compromise your health. Warm broths and herbal teas provide immune-boosting nutrients and soothe the body from the inside out. A warm bath can bring a whole lot of comfort without the risks associated with alcohol.

While it might be tempting to reach for a drink to ease the discomfort of a fever, drinking while feverish is risky. Making sure you’re hydrated, getting enough rest, and seeking proper medical care if needed are safer and more effective ways to recover.

When To Seek Medical Attention

It's crucial to be able to distinguish between the typical symptoms of a hangover and signs that something more serious might be going on. Most hangover symptoms are uncomfortable but not life-threatening. However, there are certain instances when seeking medical attention becomes necessary.

Hangovers can bring on headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, thirst, and fatigue. These symptoms usually resolve within 24 hours as our body processes the alcohol.

If you experience symptoms that are severe, unusual, or persist beyond the expected timeframe of a hangover, it might be indicative of a more serious issue. Watch out for these key signs:

  • High fever. Hangovers may have us feeling a bit feverish or running a low-grade fever (up to 100.4ºF or 38ºC). However, a high fever (over 101°F or 38.3°C) is not typical and could suggest that something more serious is happening.
  • Severe dehydration. Symptoms like extreme thirst, dizziness, and confusion may point to severe dehydration, especially if you're unable to keep fluids down.
  • Uncontrollable vomiting. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration and a significant loss of nutrients, and could require medical intervention.

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing. These symptoms are never typical of a hangover and always warrant immediate medical attention.
  • Seizures. Alcohol withdrawal in those with alcohol dependency can lead to seizures, a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, seek immediate medical care. Call 911 (or your local emergency services number) or enlist a trusted friend or loved one to get you to a hospital. These symptoms can’t wait until your doctor’s office opens — they indicate an emergency. If you're unsure whether your symptoms are hangover-related or indicative of a more serious condition, err on the side of caution and seek medical advice.

Importance of Monitoring Symptoms

If you've consumed a significant amount of alcohol and begin to feel unusually unwell, it's important to monitor your symptoms closely. Keep notes or reach out to a trusted caretaker and ask them to check on you regularly. This is particularly true if you have underlying health conditions that could be exacerbated by alcohol consumption.

Conclusion

Remember, while a hangover can make us feel bad, it shouldn't make us feel like we're in danger. Paying attention to our body and recognizing abnormal symptoms can ensure that we receive appropriate care when needed.

Prioritizing our health after drinking is key to preventing complications. Of course, the best way to prevent alcohol-related complications is to drink mindfully and practice moderation.

If you feel like you aren’t in control of your drinking, consider seeking professional help and using an app like Reframe to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and make a plan to cut back or quit. You have the power!

Imagine this: After an evening of having a few drinks with friends, you wake up feeling crummy, but this isn’t a usual hangover. It’s not just the typical headache and nausea, but also an unusual warmth flooding your body. You reach for the thermometer, and there it is — a fever. How did a night of drinking lead to feeling feverish the next day?

Is there a direct link between alcohol consumption and developing a fever? Or are these feelings just another dimension of the dreaded hangover? In this article, we'll dive into the effects of alcohol on the body, dissect the relationship between drinking and experiencing fever or chills, and explore whether "alcohol fever" is a myth or a medical reality. We'll also touch upon the risks of drinking when you’re already sick and provide guidance on when it might be time to seek medical attention.

So, if you've ever found yourself feeling unusually warm after a night out, read on to discover what's really happening inside your body.

Understanding Alcohol's Impact on the Body

As soon as we take a sip of alcohol, it starts making its way through our body. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it slows down nerve signals in our body. From the moment it touches our tongue, alcohol gets to work by dulling our sense of taste!

A hungover guy on a bed reaching out for a wine bottle

Alcohol is mostly absorbed into our bloodstream from our stomach and intestines. From there, it travels throughout the body and brain and changes how our neurotransmitters function. Here are some of the main neurotransmitters affected.

  • Dopamine. Alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine (the “pleasure-seeking” neurotransmitter), causing us to feel euphoric.


  • GABA and glutamate. Alcohol increases the functionality of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, and decreases the effectiveness of glutamate, a stimulating neurotransmitter. Together, these shifts account for alcohol’s sedative effect.

Meanwhile, our liver is hard at work metabolizing alcohol and getting it out of our system. The liver converts alcohol into a toxic compound called acetaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the nasty hangover symptoms we see the day after drinking.

Our Brain on Hangovers

Our brain doesn’t like being out of balance. To restore the proper ratio of neurotransmitters, the brain changes how much dopamine, glutamate, and GABA it produces. Once alcohol is out of our system, we have a rebound and feel the opposite way we did while drunk. Instead of calm and euphoric, we feel overstimulated and maybe a little down in the dumps.

But there’s more chemical chaos going on inside us than just changes to our neurotransmitters. Our liver is still working to eliminate the by-products of alcohol consumption, including that pesky compound we mentioned earlier: acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde: The Morning-After Villain

The morning after drinking, acetaldehyde is still present in our system, making us feel crummy, achy, and nauseous. Throughout the day, our liver continues its cleanup efforts and gets rid of the acetaldehyde, converting it into acetate and expelling it through our urine.

All of this sounds pretty un-fun, and those of us who have experienced a hangover can confirm how unpleasant it is. But can a hangover cause a fever? 

Acetaldehyde can trigger an inflammatory response as the immune system attempts to fight off the toxin. This can produce fever-like symptoms and chills that trick us into thinking maybe we’re coming down with something.

Acetaldehyde isn’t the only culprit in an alcohol fever — there’s a whole bunch of usual suspects to investigate.

Reasons for Fever and Chills After Drinking Alcohol

Experiencing a fever after drinking alcohol might feel just like being sick, but it's a bit more complex than that. Alcohol interacts with several systems in our body that could produce fever-like symptoms and chills.

  • Vasodilation. Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, leading to a loss of body heat. This causes an initial feeling of warmth (ever had hot skin after drinking or experienced flushing?).

  • Hypothalamus disruption. Alcohol also disrupts the function of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for temperature control. This disruption can make us feel hot one moment and cold the next, mimicking fever and chills.

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and causes dehydration if we don’t replenish with plenty of water. Dehydration can contribute to fever and chills as the body's fluid balance is disrupted, affecting its ability to regulate temperature effectively.

  • Immune system disruption. Alcohol suppresses our immune system by interfering with how immune cells coordinate with one another and rendering them less effective. If we are already fighting off some sort of infection (without being aware of it), that pathogen has a temporary opportunity to mount an offensive. We may develop a low-grade fever after drinking alcohol as our immune system gets back to business.

If we’ve ever felt feverish after drinking, we’re not imagining things! The term "alcohol fever" is a bit of a misnomer, however. In most cases, our “fever” is some combination of the conditions above. 

Rest assured that those fever-like symptoms won’t last too long. Even if we do experience an immune system disruption, it’s likely to be mild, and it should resolve by the next day.

But what happens if we drink when we already have a fever? Can alcohol make things worse? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Drinking With a Fever: Risks and Considerations

Drinking alcohol when we're already battling a fever introduces unnecessary challenges to a body that’s already fighting off foreign invaders. This combo could not only prolong our illness but could also introduce new health complications. Let’s take a closer look at why alcohol and fevers don't mix well.

  • Dehydration. Fever elevates body temperature, leading to increased sweating as our body attempts to cool down. This natural response can quickly lead to dehydration. Alcohol compounds this problem by acting as a diuretic, increasing the risk of serious dehydration and making it even harder for our body to recover.

  • Interference with medication. Many of us turn to over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications to manage fever. Mixing alcohol with common fever and cold medications is risky. Alcohol alters the metabolism of the drugs, either rendering them less effective or interacting with them and increasing the risk of adverse side effects.



    For example, alcohol can increase the drowsiness caused by antipyretics (fever reducers) and some antibiotics, potentially leading to dangerous levels of sedation. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a common pain and fever reliever found in many cold medicines. Tylenol and alcohol compete for attention in the liver, increasing toxicity and risk of liver damage.

  • Impaired immune response. Our body's immune system is already working overtime when we have a fever. Alcohol impairs its ability to fight off infections effectively, prolonging our illness and making us susceptible to secondary infections.
Reasons for Fever and Chills After Drinking Alcohol

Advice for Drinking With a Fever

Drinking alcohol with a fever is not a good idea. It can prolong illness and cause dangerous side effects. If you're feeling unwell or experiencing fever symptoms, the best course of action is to avoid alcohol entirely. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Hydration heals. Focus on hydrating with water, herbal teas, or electrolyte-replenishing drinks. Proper hydration supports your immune system's efforts to fight off illness and helps reduce fever symptoms.
  • Rest is crucial. Your body needs energy to fight off illness, and alcohol interferes with sleep quality. Opt for restful sleep without alcohol to give your body the best chance at a swift recovery.
  • Alternatives help more. If you're trying to relax or looking for relief from discomfort, consider non-alcoholic options that won't compromise your health. Warm broths and herbal teas provide immune-boosting nutrients and soothe the body from the inside out. A warm bath can bring a whole lot of comfort without the risks associated with alcohol.

While it might be tempting to reach for a drink to ease the discomfort of a fever, drinking while feverish is risky. Making sure you’re hydrated, getting enough rest, and seeking proper medical care if needed are safer and more effective ways to recover.

When To Seek Medical Attention

It's crucial to be able to distinguish between the typical symptoms of a hangover and signs that something more serious might be going on. Most hangover symptoms are uncomfortable but not life-threatening. However, there are certain instances when seeking medical attention becomes necessary.

Hangovers can bring on headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, thirst, and fatigue. These symptoms usually resolve within 24 hours as our body processes the alcohol.

If you experience symptoms that are severe, unusual, or persist beyond the expected timeframe of a hangover, it might be indicative of a more serious issue. Watch out for these key signs:

  • High fever. Hangovers may have us feeling a bit feverish or running a low-grade fever (up to 100.4ºF or 38ºC). However, a high fever (over 101°F or 38.3°C) is not typical and could suggest that something more serious is happening.
  • Severe dehydration. Symptoms like extreme thirst, dizziness, and confusion may point to severe dehydration, especially if you're unable to keep fluids down.
  • Uncontrollable vomiting. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration and a significant loss of nutrients, and could require medical intervention.

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing. These symptoms are never typical of a hangover and always warrant immediate medical attention.
  • Seizures. Alcohol withdrawal in those with alcohol dependency can lead to seizures, a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, seek immediate medical care. Call 911 (or your local emergency services number) or enlist a trusted friend or loved one to get you to a hospital. These symptoms can’t wait until your doctor’s office opens — they indicate an emergency. If you're unsure whether your symptoms are hangover-related or indicative of a more serious condition, err on the side of caution and seek medical advice.

Importance of Monitoring Symptoms

If you've consumed a significant amount of alcohol and begin to feel unusually unwell, it's important to monitor your symptoms closely. Keep notes or reach out to a trusted caretaker and ask them to check on you regularly. This is particularly true if you have underlying health conditions that could be exacerbated by alcohol consumption.

Conclusion

Remember, while a hangover can make us feel bad, it shouldn't make us feel like we're in danger. Paying attention to our body and recognizing abnormal symptoms can ensure that we receive appropriate care when needed.

Prioritizing our health after drinking is key to preventing complications. Of course, the best way to prevent alcohol-related complications is to drink mindfully and practice moderation.

If you feel like you aren’t in control of your drinking, consider seeking professional help and using an app like Reframe to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and make a plan to cut back or quit. You have the power!

Alcohol and Health