Is It Safe to Combine Naproxen and Alcohol?

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  • Written By: Susan Abe
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2019
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A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), naproxen is used to treat inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, bursitis, gout or menstrual cramps, and for other pathologies including Paget's disease. Despite some lower dose NSAIDs drugs' over-the-counter availability, these medications are not without the potential for life-threatening side effects. Naproxen is known to cause abrupt irritation, bleeding, ulceration and even perforation in the gastrointestinal (GI) system. The chance of these potential emergency GI side effects increases with alcohol usage. In general then, naproxen and alcohol are not safe to be used together unless specifically allowed by the patient's physician.

Medical authorities differ in their warnings regarding the concomitant use of naproxen and alcohol. Some sources prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages entirely while a patient is regularly taking this medication. Another source warns patients to limit use of alcohol during treatment. All experts cite studies, however, demonstrating that drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day while taking naproxen increases the chances of life-threatening gastrointestinal side effects. These chances can also increase depending upon the patient's age and overall health.


Naproxen and alcohol can both cause gastritis, or irritation of the lining of the stomach. The additional use of tobacco raises the risk of GI complications from naproxen even more. Other prescription medications and the ingredients in many over-the-counter drugs can further exacerbate gastritis. Patients are advised to read the ingredients of all supplements and over-the-counter medications carefully to avoid products containing ibuprofen, ketoprofen or aspirin. Self-medication to avoid gastritis by taking antacids is not recommended as antacids can interfere with the digestion and absorption of naproxen.

Drowsiness, grogginess and an inability to safely operate some machinery are more shared effects of both naproxen and alcohol. Together, these substances can pack more than twice the punch in a synergistic combination. Naproxen and alcohol effects are also age-related, in that both substances affect older individuals to a greater degree. Studies have demonstrated that the chance of naproxen-related GI side effects is greater in the elderly.

Naproxen has also been associated with an increased chance of heart attack and stroke in individuals with existing coronary artery disease or hypertension. This risk of cardiovascular complication appears to be greater in patients who have taken this medication for a longer length of time. Naproxen's potential gastrointestinal side effects, on the other hand, can occur without warning during any phase of treatment. Concomitant alcohol use increases the chances of these GI side effects.


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Post 3

@burcidi-- Probably not. I think those side effects are most probable in people who take high doses of naproxen regularly and also drink on a regular basis. So those who are taking this drug every day and those who are suffering from alcoholism are at increased risk.

If you're taking over-the-counter naproxen, it's usually 200mg of naproxen per tablet. So if you only take one or two tablets per day and don't drink daily or heavily, you're probably not going to suffer from gastrointestinal side effects. But then again, there is no guarantee, so it's a risk to use naproxen and alcohol together regardless.

Post 2

For side effects like stomach bleeding and ulcers to occur, wouldn't the person have to take a high dosage of medication and a lot of alcohol?

I mean is one tablet of naproxen and a couple of beers going to give someone ulcers?

Post 1

I have been given naproxen for tendinitis and I made the mistake of drinking the very first day I was put on it by my doctor. They both made me so dizzy! I think I got drunk much more quickly than usual and I just felt very drowsy and dizzy and my speech started to slur.

I told my doctor about it the next morning and she told me not to drink while on naproxen. If I hadn't drank the first day I started taking the drug, I would have noticed that it was making me dizzy and would not have drank as much. Anyway, I learned my lesson, I'm waiting until my treatment is over to drink again.

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