Can You Combine Naproxen and Alcohol?

Can You Combine Naproxen and Alcohol?
Recovery Unplugged Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Written By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu -

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Last Medically Reviewed on February 23, 2024

  • Naproxen is an NSAID medication used for alleviating pain and inflammation.
  • Naproxen is found in popular over-the-counter medications such as Aleve® and Midol®.
  • Naproxen can treat common ailments such as arthritis, tendonitis, and gout.
  • Taking Naproxen and alcohol together is not advised and can lead to dangerous risks such as liver damage, stomach ulcers, and other complications.

Many people worldwide face daily pain and inflammation, which can hinder their daily activities and make simple tasks difficult. To manage these discomforts, Naproxen is a widely used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that effectively reduces pain and inflammation. However, it is crucial to use Naproxen responsibly and be aware of the risks of combining it with other substances, including alcohol.

Can You Combine Naproxen and Alcohol?

What is Naproxen?

Naproxen[1] is an NSAID medication for alleviating pain, similar to Ibuprofen, reducing inflammation and lowering fever levels. Its mechanism of action involves the inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme activity, responsible for synthesizing prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that contribute to the body’s inflammatory responses. By blocking COX enzymes, Naproxen effectively minimizes inflammation and relieves pain.

Common Uses of Naproxen

Found in popular brand names like Aleve® and Midol®, Naproxen is primarily utilized for its pain-relieving properties. Naproxen is available both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription. OTC versions are typically used for mild to moderate pain, while prescription-strength Naproxen is used for more severe conditions. Among its most used applications are:

Treating Pain and Inflammation

Naproxen is commonly prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation caused by various conditions such as:

  • Arthritis: It is common for Naproxen to be used as a pain reliever and to reduce inflammation. This medication is specifically used to manage cases involving osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Tendonitis and Bursitis: Tendonitis and bursitis are two health conditions that can cause inflammation in the tendons and bursa, respectively.
  • Gout: Managing acute gout attacks often involves administering Naproxen. This medication effectively reduces inflammation and alleviates pain, making it a popular choice among clinicians.

Menstrual Pain

Naproxen has become a trusted remedy for women dealing with menstrual pain or dysmenorrhea. It helps combat the secretion of prostaglandins responsible for uterine contractions and associated discomfort during menstruation.

Migraine Relief

Although not typically the predominant solution for migraines, Naproxen can alleviate migraine discomfort and symptoms. This medication is generally prescribed with other specialized treatments to manage all migraine symptoms.

Postoperative Pain Management

Naproxen may be prescribed when pain and inflammation are present after surgery. This prescription effectively decreases the demand for opioid-based medications, mitigating the possibility of addiction and other adverse effects when seeking pain relief.

Side Effects of Naproxen

Using Naproxen[2] can result in the possibility of experiencing undesired symptoms. Specific symptoms commonly linked with taking Naproxen consist of:

  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Naproxen may have severe side effects that could impact someone’s health in various ways, including gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers. Consulting with a health professional is essential before use.

Disclosing your medical history and others you are currently taking will allow the healthcare service provider to advise accordingly while minimizing the possibility of heart attacks or strokes.

How Naproxen and Alcohol Interact

The ability of Naproxen to alleviate pain relies on its ability to hinder cyclooxygenase (COX)-mediated prostaglandin synthesis – a critical process that causes inflammation-related symptoms.

While many other painkillers target just one subtype of COX enzyme – either COX 1 or COX 2 – Naproxen actively inhibits both enzymes, delivering rapid yet sustained relief from painful conditions in patients who need it most.

Alcohol is a CNS depressant that impacts the brain and spinal cord. It operates mainly on the neurotransmitter GABA, which controls nerve activity in the brain. Enhancing the levels of GABA reduces nerve excitability, resulting in a sensation of relaxation and sedation.

The interplay of Naproxen and alcohol occurs at the metabolic level as both substances are metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver. When taken together, these substances may compromise the liver’s capacity to process them efficiently, increasing their levels in the bloodstream. This interaction may impact the effectiveness of Naproxen and the elimination rate of alcohol.

Risks of Combining Naproxen and Alcohol

Combining Naproxen with alcohol use is not recommended due to the potential risks associated. Below are the most common dangers of combining these two substances:

Gastrointestinal Issues

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)[3], such as Naproxen, may irritate the stomach lining, increasing the likelihood of stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Chronic alcohol consumption is also known to irritate the digestive system and exacerbate the risk of ulcer development.

When you take Naproxen and alcohol together, the likelihood of gastrointestinal complications becomes significantly higher.

Liver Damage

The liver plays a critical role in metabolizing Naproxen and alcohol. However, the simultaneous processing of these substances can seriously threaten liver health. When alcohol is frequently consumed or taken in large quantities with other substances, it can strain the liver and eventually lead to liver damage.

Increased Risk of Side Effects

Using Naproxen together with alcohol can have a compounded effect on the undesirable symptoms associated with each substance individually. One significant concern is that consuming alcohol can amplify the sedative influence of Naproxen, leading to increased drowsiness and impaired cognitive function. This has implications for an individual’s capacity to perform activities safely that require alertness, such as driving or handling heavy equipment.

Potential for Overdose

It’s vital to avoid taking Naproxen and drinking alcohol together since they may interact at a metabolic level. This interaction has serious implications, including possible overdose risks. The liver can have difficulty processing both substances adequately, leading to their levels becoming excessively high in your bloodstream and triggering severe health problems.

Can I have a small amount of alcohol while taking Naproxen?

It is generally recommended to avoid alcohol while taking Naproxen, as even moderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding, especially in individuals with certain health conditions or those taking other medications.

Can combining Naproxen and alcohol cause stomach ulcers?

Yes, both Naproxen and alcohol can irritate the stomach lining, and combined use may increase the risk of ulcers and stomach bleeding.

Will combining Naproxen and alcohol affect the effectiveness of Naproxen?

The interaction between Naproxen and alcohol at the metabolic level may potentially affect the overall effectiveness of Naproxen. However, individual factors such as genetics, overall health, and frequency of use can influence the extent of this interaction.

Can combining Naproxen and alcohol cause drowsiness?

Drinking alcohol while taking Naproxen can tire you and impair your ability to think clearly.

What should I do if I experience side effects or complications from combining Naproxen and alcohol?

It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you encounter any adverse outcomes after combining Naproxen and alcohol. Ensure you inform your healthcare professional about your symptoms and the substances you have ingested to receive appropriate medical advice and treatment options.

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[1] Brutzkus, J. C., Shahrokhi, M., & Varacallo, M. (2024). Naproxen. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.

[2] MedlinePlus. (2022, March 15). Naproxen: MedlinePlus Drug Information.

[3] Ghlichloo, I., & Gerriets, V. (2024). Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.


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