You might have been diagnosed with a bacterial infection that requires you to take amoxicillin and are perhaps wondering if you can take it and still drink your favourite alcoholic beverages. You might be wondering this due to all the hearsays about the potential adverse reaction between alcohol and drugs. Well, if you were to ask us, we will not recommend it.
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It is a type of antibiotic that belongs to the penicillin family used in treating bacterial infections. The Penicillin class of antibiotics is derived from Penicillium, a kind of fungi (or mould). It is well known to be effective against dental, skin, respiratory, ear, and sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
It is likely to be the first medication a doctor might prescribe once they suspect that you have a bacterial infection. Amoxicillin works by stopping the growth of the bacteria responsible for the condition and will not work against viral infections such as colds and flu. It is sometimes taken along with other antibiotics such as clarithromycin, which is typically used in treating stomach ulcers. Amoxicillin is considered one of the safest and most popular antibiotics in the world. It is even used in treating children and pregnant women without any cause for worry. It can, however, make contraceptive pills less effective. Hence, doctors must be consulted if the patient falls within this category.
It is marketed under the brand names Amoxil, Trimox, Moxilin and Moxatag.
Warning: It is recommended that the drug is taken only when prescribed by a doctor or when the individual has an actual infection; taking the drug when it is not needed will only make it less effective when a real condition occurs.
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Amoxicillin is capable of treating a wide variety of bacterial infections. Some of these infections are:
Note: It is also sometimes used to treat diseases like Lyme Disease and to prevent or treat anthrax infection of the skin. In pregnant women, it may be used to treat chlamydia infection during pregnancy.
It is highly recommended that Amoxicillin is taken as prescribed by the doctor or pharmacist. The drug comes in four (4) forms which are all ingested.
It may either come in a capsule, chewable Tablet, liquid (or) pediatric Drop.
Irrespective of the form of the drug, it is usually taken once every eight (8) hours three (3) times a day. If you are on the drug, the quantity you take will be determined by the doctor or pharmacist who attended to you, and it is highly recommended that you do not exceed what is prescribed. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Do not under any circumstance take a double or triple amount to make up for the quantities you may have missed.
For each of the forms of the drug, there are slight differences in how they are taken.
Warning: The tendency and temptation to stop taking the drug once you feel better or symptoms disappear. However, it is recommended that you finish taking Amoxicillin as prescribed by your doctor until you are entirely done with the process.
Although the drug is potentially the safest antibiotic that all may take, some conditions make the drug far from ideal for an individual irrespective of their age. If you fall in any of these categories, you must alert the doctor before taking the drug or, if possible, not take it at all; the final decision, however, must come from your doctor or pharmacist.
Known Allergy to Penicillin: Do not take the drug if you are allergic to Penicillin or you have at one point had an allergic reaction to any Penicillin related antibiotic such as Cephalosporin. If your doctor prescribes the medication without being aware of this, do well to draw his attention to it.
Kidney & Stomach Diseases: Do not take Amoxicillin if you suffer from kidney, stomach and other intestinal diseases. The doctor must be informed of these situations so a more informed choice can be made for you.
Pregnancy: For pregnant mothers, although the drug is FDA Pregnancy Category B, which is considered safe for use during pregnancy without any harm to the unborn child, the doctor must be well informed before the drug is taken.
Nursing Mothers: For mothers who are still breastfeeding, ****the drug can be passed to the unborn child through pregnancy and could cause diarrhoea, yeast infection and allergic reaction in the nursing infant. This is, however, rare, and no serious harm is expected. It is therefore advised that the drug is taken under the direction of a doctor or pharmacist.
Ongoing Medication: If you are on any medication, whether prescription or nonprescription medicine, it is advised that your doctor is duly informed about it. If you take other antibiotics, anticoagulants, oral contraceptives, allopurinol and probenecid, tell your doctor. If necessary, he may adjust your doses or decide if taking the drug is viable or not.
Amoxicillin also has some potential side effects. If these side effects do not cease or persist for a long time, do well to call your doctor. These side effects include:
Some side effects can be severe and cause serious discomfort: If you experience these, you should call the doctor immediately without wasting time. They include;
These symptoms could represent severe allergic reactions to Amoxicillin, and you are encouraged to contact your doctor and make a complaint immediately.
Alcohol is known to react poorly with drugs, and it is typically recommended that individuals who are on medication avoid it. This is usually because the reactions between alcohol and these drugs are far from therapeutic for the individual. Is it the same for alcohol and amoxicillin? Alcohol has been established to have a poor interaction with amoxicillin, which means it is less dangerous when compared with other medications. Some healthcare professionals might even indicate that moderate consumption of alcohol while on amoxicillin might be safe.
First of all, consuming alcohol in safe quantities might not affect the potency of amoxicillin or interfere with its activities. However, it can cause or increase the severity of its side effects. Taking alcohol while on amoxicillin medication can cause rapid heart rate, vomiting and occasional body pains. Alcohol causes dehydration which, when mixed up with amoxicillin, can cause nausea, fatigue and headaches. Amoxicillin can also cause faster reabsorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, which might cause intense intoxication.
Also, drugs are hard on the liver, and so is alcohol; a combination of these two is not in any way healthy, especially for the organs of someone who is recovering from an illness or infection. Therefore, although Amoxicillin might not have that big an effect on the liver, it is advised that such strain is avoided as much as possible.
Finally, and more importantly, alcohol is known to slow the operations of the immune system. It reduces the number of white blood cells needed to fight off diseases and infections; this explains why individuals who consume alcohol, especially those who do so in large quantities, are more likely to fall sick or have recurrent/chronic diseases. Taking alcohol while on amoxicillin will make it harder to get rid of the infection, not because the alcohol reacts negatively with the drug but simply because it is making it much harder for your body (more specifically, your immune system) to take advantage of the antibiotic.
Alcohol dependency refers to a situation where the brain and body are unable to function effectively without alcohol. There is a slight difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency. Anyone who “simply abuses” alcohol can manage their life to an extent, whereas the individual with the alcohol dependency syndrome will be incapable of that. A professional diagnosis will help tell the difference.
The National Institute for Healthcare and Excellence defines it as being characterised by craving, tolerance, preoccupation and continuation despite harmful consequences. The dependency can be physical or psychological.
It will be hard for anyone having alcohol dependency to simply “lay it off” while on medication such as Amoxicillin. Therefore, for anyone who is alcohol dependent and has to be on Amoxicillin, we recommend that you are honest with your Doctor or Pharmacist about the situation so they can come up with a system or dosage that will be most effective for you.
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As stated, Alcohol and Amoxicillin may not have direct effects or dangerous interactions that might make it harmful to you. However, the indirect effects are significant enough to recommend that you do your best to finish your medication before taking alcohol. You can do it!
Yes, you can! Symptoms of an overdose include seizures, pain or twitching, loss of feeling in toes and legs, confusion and agitation, and in extreme situations, Coma.
NB: In case of an overdose, call your emergency line immediately.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
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