The Risks of Mixing Ibuprofen and Alcohol


Most people try to mix medicines and alcohol, most especially when they struggle with the extreme pain caused by a hangover. However, many people are not aware that most medications are not safe to take at the same time as alcohol. Take, for example, Ibuprofen. 

While ibuprofen is widely available, it carries risks if combined with excessive alcohol consumption. If you’ve become dependent on alcohol, seeking help from an alcohol rehab center near me can help you get the right treatment.


What is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is categorized as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which is also known as NSAID.

It is available on the shelf under various brand names, such as Advil, Midol, and Motrin. As it is sold over the counter, anyone can buy it without a doctor’s prescription. This makes it a convenient choice to relieve common pain, swelling, and fever. But for many people, it is also wrongfully used to treat hangovers caused by alcohol.

Ibuprofen relieves pain by blocking the prostaglandins, which are substances that could cause harmful side effects—most especially if you used them incorrectly. It is a strong medication and when taken by itself, you might experience nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

Meanwhile, these side effects can be prevented when you take ibuprofen with food.


Is it safe to drink alcohol with Ibuprofen?

National Health Service (NHS) in the UK mentioned that it is safe to take pain relievers — like Ibuprofen — when drinking a small quantity of alcohol.

Nevertheless, a person can experience mild-to-serious side effects when ibuprofen is taken regularly and more than a moderate amount of alcohol is consumed. For reference, a moderate amount of alcohol is only one drink for women and two drinks for men per day.

The chances of suffering from serious side effects are high, particularly with long-term use of ibuprofen and heavy alcohol consumption.

This is one of the many reasons why a person should not use ibuprofen to relieve a hangover.


What happens if you drink alcohol with Ibuprofen?

Alcohol and ibuprofen make a dangerous combination. The two contain substances that can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines. Hence, taking  them simultaneously  time can cause side effects depending on the dose and how much alcohol you ingest.

When alcohol is present inside your body, your stomach also tends to become more vulnerable, increasing the risks of ulcer and gastrointestinal bleeding.

You might ask: what if I wait for hours before I take ibuprofen?

The answer is simple: Do not.

While many believe that alcohol stays in the body system for only one to three hours, a urine test and breathalyzers suggest that it can stay 24 hours. In fact, even a hair test can still detect alcohol you have taken in the past three months.

According to experts, a person’s body size can show how long alcohol can stay in their system. Ideally, you can take ibuprofen at least after a day you ingested alcohol. But if you have taken a large amount of it, you should give your body up to two days (or more) before you take ibuprofen.


What are the dangers of drinking and taking Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is considered to be at its safest state when only taken for a short period. Hence, doctors usually prescribe different medications when a patient needs long-term pain management. This also means that an individual should strictly follow the recommended dosage when taking ibuprofen.

In case you didn’t know, ibuprofen is commonly mixed in other medication, including headache medicines, cold medicines, and prescribed pain relievers. So, it is highly recommendable to read medication labels to prevent ibuprofen overdose or long-term use.

As mentioned a while ago, it is NSAID that works by blocking an enzyme that creates prostaglandins. While these compounds stimulate pain and swelling, they also have crucial benefits to the body.

Prostaglandins protect the digestive tract’s mucous lining from harmful substances. It also helps your kidneys in filtering out damaging elements found in your blood.

Lowering prostaglandin levels through ibuprofen consumption can spike up the risk of deadly side effects, including:

  • Stomach and gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Irritation in the digestive tract
  • Bleeding problems
  • Kidney damage

In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed that ibuprofen and alcohol can worsen the usual side effects of this medicine. These worsen side effects include bleeding, ulcers, and a rapid heartbeat.

Meanwhile, the National Kidney Foundation stated that heavy drinking can double the risk of a person developing chronic kidney disease, most especially for people who already have reduced kidney function.

Taking ibuprofen and alcohol at the same time can increase and worsen drowsiness, too. This causes people to experience excessive sleepiness or an ability to function normally.

It puts older adults in a risky situation, as well. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that older adults have a greater risk of complications relating to mixing ibuprofen and alcohol. The reason behind this is that as people age, their bodies find it hard to break down alcohol as effectively as when they are in their prime.

A report also revealed that drinking alcohol while taking medication puts older people at higher risks of falls, accidents, and adverse drug interactions.


Which pain reliever can you take with alcohol?

Taking NSAID and Tylenol is safe to take with alcohol, noting that you should only take low doses with small amounts of alcohol.

The mixture of NSAIDs and alcohol can reduce inflammation in the body and can result in bleeding of the stomach. On the other hand, Tylenol and alcohol can cause liver damage, as their combinations prevent the body from processing alcohol. Hence, pharmacists advise people to avoid mixing over-the-counter painkillers with alcohol. 


Final Thoughts

Here at Roots Through Recovery, we specialize in substance abuse treatment, addiction treatment, and alcohol abuse treatment. Our team of caring professionals is always ready to bring your loved one back to the right path.

For more information, you can visit our website here at or give us a call at 562-275-3498.

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1 thought on “The Risks of Mixing Ibuprofen and Alcohol”

  1. Why do you and others say you cannot have alcohol WITH Ibruprofen? The word WITH means together. Who in their right mind would take any medication, even OTC together WITH alcohol?
    I find it hard to believe you cannot use OTC meds 12 hrs. after taking 16 proof wine.

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