Many people who drink alcohol understand that it can have some kind of impact on their health. However, those who use blood thinners may find themselves wondering if they can still drink while taking their medication. They may also wonder about what kinds of complications could occur if alcohol is mixed with blood thinners.
What Are Blood Thinners?
Blood thinners are medications that are used to slow blood clotting. These medicines are used in people who are at an increased risk of medical events caused by blood clots, such as heart attacks or strokes. There are three main classes of blood thinners:
- Anticoagulants: Medications that inhibit chemical reactions that promote blood clotting.
- Antiplatelets: Medications that prevent platelets from sticking together.
- Fibrinolytics: Medications that break down fibrin to dissolve existing clots.
While fibrinolytics are only used in hospital settings, anticoagulants and antiplatelets can be taken on a regular basis at home.
What Are Blood Thinners Used For?
Blood thinners are used to make it more difficult for the blood to form blood clots. Blood thinners can be used for blood clots that already exist, preventing them from getting any bigger and helping the body to break them down. Blood thinners can also be used for atrial fibrillation or other conditions that make blood clots more likely to develop, as these medications prevent clots from developing in the first place.
How Long Do Blood Thinners Stay In Your System?
The length of time that blood thinners continue to affect your blood depends on many different factors. These factors can include the type of blood thinner used, the dosages you are using, your overall health, your diet and your genetics. Depending on the blood thinner, the effects can last for hours or even days. Because blood thinners are designed to have a constant effect over time, they are typically designed to be long-lasting.
Is Alcohol a Blood Thinner?
Alcohol thins your blood by slowing the normal action of fibrin, a molecule that builds blood clots. For this reason, people who use alcohol may find that they bleed more easily and for longer periods. Bruising may also occur more easily while using alcohol because it thins the blood.
Mixing Alcohol and Blood Thinners
Mixing alcohol and blood thinners is a bad idea for three important reasons:
- Alcohol thins your blood by itself. When combined with blood thinners, the risk of uncontrollable bleeding is compounded because of the effects of both alcohol and the blood thinner.
- Alcohol and blood thinners are both processed in the liver. When alcohol is added to the bloodstream, the liver will take longer to break down blood-thinning medicine, increasing its effect.
- Alcohol stresses the liver. The liver produces chemicals that are important for blood clotting, and extra stress on the liver can affect how well it produces these chemicals.
Side Effects of Mixing Blood Thinners and Alcohol
Mixing blood thinners and alcohol can cause bleeding to occur more easily. When your blood is too thin, even minor bleeding can be difficult to stop. Severe bleeding can quickly become deadly and uncontrollable if the blood is too thin. Signs that the blood is too thin include:
- Pink or red urine
- Red/black, tarry stool
- Unexpected bruising
- Red/black coffee ground vomit
- Heavy bleeding during periods
- New nosebleeds
- Bleeding around the gums
- Prolonged bleeding time when injured
Can You Drink on Blood Thinners?
Someone who wants to drink alcohol while taking blood thinners should consult with their doctor before doing so. While some people may be able to drink in moderation while taking blood thinners, it is typically best to avoid it. Alcohol is generally not an essential activity, and it can increase the risk of bleeding, so it is typically best to avoid drinking while on blood thinners.
Alcohol Interactions with Blood Thinners
Alcohol may interact differently with some blood thinners depending on how they affect the body, so it is important to discuss your specific situation with your doctor. Your doctor’s guidance will likely depend on what type of anticoagulant you are using.
Mixing alcohol and aspirin increases the toxicity of aspirin and can increase the risk of internal bleeding. If you are taking aspirin, you should speak with your doctor before using alcohol.
Mixing Naproxen and alcohol increases the risk of damage to the stomach lining and makes internal bleeding and stomach ulcers more likely to develop. There is also a risk that mixing these two medications could thin your blood excessively.
Mixing Eliquis and alcohol is not advised because they both increase the risk of bleeding when combined. In addition, alcohol prolongs the action of Eliquis by slowing how quickly it is eliminated by the body. It is best not to combine these substances at all unless you have first spoken with your doctor.
Alcohol can increase the risk of bleeding when combined with Xarelto; however, it may be safe to drink in moderation while using Xarelto. Heavy alcohol use should be avoided, and you should confirm that it is OK to combine Xarelto and alcohol with your physician before doing so.
Mixing alcohol and Coumadin is known to affect how Coumadin works in your body. It can make Coumadin more active and increase the risk of bleeding. It can also affect your blood levels and cause incorrect doses of Coumadin to be prescribed. You should avoid mixing Coumadin and alcohol unless your doctor says that it is OK.
It may be safe to take Plavix while using alcohol in moderation; however, you should still check with your doctor before doing so. Mixing these two substances can lead to stomach discomfort and increase your risk of bleeding.
Mixing Pradaxa and alcohol has significant effects, as it increases the risk that bleeding will occur by boosting the effects of the Pradaxa. You should not mix Pradaxa and alcohol unless your doctor has specifically said this is OK. Even then, alcohol use should be limited as much as possible.
Alcohol increases the effects of Lovenox and generally should not be used while taking Lovenox. If your doctor says that it is OK to combine these two substances, you should still only use alcohol in moderation and monitor for potential bleeding.
It may be OK to mix Brilinta and alcohol with the permission of your doctor; however, it generally should be avoided. Brilinta is often prescribed with aspirin, increasing the risk of bleeding even more when alcohol is used. Typically, you should avoid using alcohol while on Brilinta.
Get Help for Alcohol Abuse in Orlando, FL
Blood thinners can be particularly dangerous for people with alcohol addiction. They often find it more difficult to restrict their alcohol use to a moderate amount or avoid combining alcohol with blood thinners. This increases the likelihood of complications from mixing alcohol and blood thinners.
If you or a loved one is struggling to stop using alcohol, Orlando Recovery Center is here to help. We provide medical detox and inpatient and outpatient rehab services that can help you address your addiction and begin the path toward lifelong recovery. Contact us today to learn more about alcohol addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.