Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Doxycycline?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

What is doxycycline?

Doxycycline is an antibiotic that’s used to treat a variety of bacterial infections, including respiratory and skin infections. It’s also used to prevent malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that’s caused by a parasite.

There are different types, known as classes, of antibiotics. Doxycycline is in the tetracycline class, which interferes with bacteria’s ability to make proteins. This prevents bacteria from growing and thriving.

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Alcohol can interact with several antibiotics, including doxycycline in some cases.

Can I drink alcohol?

Doxycycline can interact with alcohol in people with a history of chronic drinking or heavy alcohol use.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this condition is defined as more than 4 drinks a day for men and more than three drinks a day for women.

Doxycycline can also interact with alcohol in people with liver problems.

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In these two groups of people, drinking alcohol while taking doxycycline can make the antibiotic less effective.

But if you’re taking doxycycline and don’t have these risks, you should be fine to have a drink or two without reducing the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

What will happen if I drink alcohol?

Some antibiotics, such as metronidazole and tinidazole, have serious interactions with alcohol that can result in a range of side effects including:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • stomach issues
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • rapid heart rate

Having one or two alcoholic drinks while taking doxycycline shouldn’t cause any of these effects.

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But if you’re still getting over an infection, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol, especially heavily, is linked to decreased functioning of your immune system.

Research has shown the use of doxycycline with alcohol results in reduced blood levels of doxycycline and may affect the efficacy of doxycycline. The effects can last for days after discontinuing alcohol.

The manufacturer suggests drug substitution in people who are likely to consume alcohol.

What if I’ve already had several drinks?

If you’re taking doxycycline and have been drinking, avoid having any more drinks, especially if you notice:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach
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Mixing doxycycline and alcohol won’t cause any serious health issues. But drinking enough alcohol to get to the point of feeling drunk can affect your recovery.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, getting drunk can slow your body’s immune response for up to 24 hours.

It’s also important to note that alcohol may increase fall risks, which could lead to bleeding, especially in people who are on blood thinners or who are older.

Should I avoid anything else while taking doxycycline?

You should always make your doctor aware of any medications or supplements you’re taking, including over-the-counter or herbal products.

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While taking doxycycline, also be sure to ask your doctor before taking:

  • antacids
  • anticoagulants
  • barbiturates
  • bismuth subsalicylate, an active ingredient in medications such as Pepto-Bismol
  • anticonvulsants, such as carbamazepine and phenytoin
  • diuretics
  • lithium
  • methotrexate
  • proton pump inhibitors
  • retinoids
  • vitamin A supplements

Tetracycline antibiotics, including doxycycline, can also make you more sensitive to sunlight. Make sure to wear protective clothing and apply plenty of sunscreen when going outside to avoid getting sunburned.

Pregnant women, women who are nursing, and children under age 8 shouldn’t take doxycycline.

The bottom line

Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat a range of bacterial infections.

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While drinking alcohol while taking certain antibiotics can be risky, it’s generally safe to occasionally consume alcohol while taking doxycycline.

However, if a person is a chronic drinker, has a liver condition, or is taking multiple medications, alcohol should be avoided while taking doxycycline.

Keep in mind that alcohol can slow down your body’s immune response. If you do choose to drink while taking doxycycline, you may be adding another day onto your recovery from the underlying infection.

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