Generally speaking, combining clindamycin and alcohol does not usually pose severe health risks. Physicians, however, still advise patients to avoid drinking alcohol when they are prescribed clindamycin, since the interaction between the two may worsen the side effects associated with either the alcohol or clindamycin. Mixing clindamycin and alcohol can also reduce the efficacy of the medication, making a patient’s illness or condition harder to treat. Drinking alcohol is advised against not only when taking clindamycin, but also with most medications.
Clindamycin is a type of medication labeled as an “antibiotic” and helps fight off and kill the bacteria that can cause infections usually in the respiratory and digestive system. It is also commonly prescribed to patients suffering from acne, malaria, and infection in the bone, but is usually combined with other drugs or chemicals. Clindamycin operates in the body by binding itself to the bacteria’s ribosome and preventing the proteins from multiplying. When the bacterial population is controlled, the body’s own immune system finishes the job by eliminating the bacteria altogether.
One of the reasons why clindamycin and alcohol should not be combined is that both are absorbed quickly by the digestive system and into bloodstream. Alcohol is considered a “downer” or a “depressant” that slows down the activity of any body part that absorbs it. This means that the body may take a longer time to absorb the clindamycin; there may even be cases when the medication is flushed out of the body without getting absorbed at all. In some cases, the alcohol, especially when drank in large amounts, would use up more enzymes to metabolize and flush it out of the system, leaving very little enzymes to work on the clindamycin. As a result, the medication may stay inside the system for a prolonged period, and can cause severe symptoms or even poisoning.
Another reason why combining clindamycin and alcohol is advised against is that both of them can exhibit similar symptoms that can include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and an upset stomach. When both the medication and the alcohol are inside the body’s system, the severity of the symptoms can be twice as bad. In some cases, the liver can also suffer because the alcohol can trigger some enzymes to actually turn the clindamycin into poison. Alcohol is also known to weaken the body’s immune system, so even when the clindamycin does its job of inhibiting the growth of the bacteria, the immune system cannot function effectively in killing the bacteria. If one cannot avoid combining clindamycin and alcohol, he should only drink the latter in moderation.