In This Article
What are Steroids?
Steroids are synthetic versions of hormones that occur naturally in the human body. They are often prescribed to treat hormonal problems, such as delayed puberty. Steroids are also used for diseases that lead to muscle loss, including cancer and AIDS.
However, some bodybuilders and athletes misuse steroids to boost performance or improve the appearance of their bodies.
Types of Steroids
There are two main types of steroids:
Corticosteroids are medications that reduce inflammation in the body. These steroids mimic the hormone cortisol, which is produced from the adrenal glands. Cortisol prevents your immune system from producing substances that lead to inflammation.
Prednisone is one commonly used corticosteroid. It works similarly to cortisol, slowing, or stopping the immune system from triggering inflammation. Prednisone treats various medical conditions. For example, prednisone can help balance hormones in people whose adrenal glands do not make enough corticosteroids.
As a potent anti-inflammatory, prednisone treats diseases that cause inflammation, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis.
Anabolic steroids are human-made versions of testosterone. This is a male sex hormone that helps build larger muscles. A doctor can legally prescribe anabolic steroids if your body doesn’t produce enough testosterone. For example, boys with delayed puberty may take anabolic steroids.
These steroids are also prescribed to men with low testosterone and people who experience muscle mass loss due to cancer, AIDS, and other health problems.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Steroids?
There is no clear or straightforward answer to whether it is safe to drink alcohol while taking steroids. It depends on several factors, including:
- How large the dose of steroids is
- Whether the treatment course is short or long-term
- How much alcohol the patient usually drinks
Someone taking a short course of steroids may prefer to avoid alcohol entirely until they finish their treatment.
The main concern about mixing steroids and alcohol is that alcohol can worsen the side effects of steroids (drug interactions). For example, alcohol consumption with steroids may help weaken the bones and can promote weight gain.
If you want to drink alcohol while taking steroids, it’s best to speak to your healthcare provider for medical advice.
What Are the Side Effects of Mixing Steroids With Alcohol?
There are several possible side effects of mixing steroids with alcohol. These include:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Weakened immune system
- Weight gain
- Brittle bones
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Chest pain
Dangers of Mixing Steroids and Alcohol
Using steroids under medical supervision and as prescribed is usually safe. However, even legitimate steroid use may come with side effects and increased risks.
Likewise, moderate drinking doesn’t usually lead to problems for most people. Yet misuse of either steroids or alcohol consumption can lead to severe health problems. Combining steroid and alcohol use significantly increases the risks linked to either substance.
Long-term steroid use can adversely affect the liver and kidneys. These are two vital organs that also suffer damage when someone consumes too much alcohol. Mixing steroids and alcohol can overexert the liver. Prolonged misuse may lead to cirrhosis or liver failure. People with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) are at high risk for these side effects.
There are also psychological side effects and mental health issues associated with combining steroids like prednisone with alcohol. Steroids can leave a lingering impact on the brain. Extended steroid use can result in mentally unstable states, including psychosis and mania.
Even short-term steroid use can lead to mood changes, sometimes resulting in the infamous ‘roid rage’ that users are known to develop. When these mood swings combine with the decreased inhibitions of someone drunk, dangerous situations are more likely to occur. This can increase the potential for violence and physical harm.
Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms
If you have developed an addiction to steroids, the following withdrawal symptoms may develop if you stop using the drug abruptly:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Low blood sugar
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in menstruation
Tips and Precautions When Taking Prednisone
There are several precautions to follow while taking prednisone:
- Take prednisone with food to avoid stomach upset
- Speak with a doctor before taking prednisone while pregnant or breastfeeding
- Consult a doctor before receiving vaccinations while taking prednisone
- Do not stop taking prednisone unless a doctor recommends it
- Ask your doctor about potassium or calcium supplements
- Consume a healthy, well-balanced diet to prevent weight gain and keep blood sugar under control
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine as they can worsen insomnia, a side effect of prednisone
People who abuse anabolic steroids take doses 10 to 100 times higher than those prescribed for medicinal reasons.
Of men treated for opioid use disorders reported prior use of anabolic steroids.
Of people who misuse anabolic steroids become physically dependent on them.
Steroids and Alcohol: Questions and Answers
What are the side effects of drinking alcohol while taking prednisone?
There are several possible side effects of drinking alcohol with prednisone. Firstly, alcohol and prednisone may irritate the digestive tract, resulting in peptic ulcers. If you’re prone to indigestion or an upset stomach, mixing the two substances may cause digestive issues.
As well as this, prednisone may lead to brittle bones and can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
What should you not eat when taking prednisone?
Steroids like prednisone produce side effects, including weight gain, increased appetite, high blood pressure, and steroid-induced diabetes.
Consuming a healthy and balanced diet while taking prednisone is essential. Try to eat foods that are low in salt, sugar, and calories. Opt for fresh foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. You should also try to be physically active.
Can you drink alcohol while taking antibiotics and steroids?
It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol when taking antibiotics or when you’re feeling unwell. However, it’s also unlikely that consuming alcohol in moderation will cause issues when taking the most common antibiotics.
To reduce any health issues and increased risks associated with consuming alcohol, it is recommended not to drink more than 14 drinks a week (men) or 7 drinks a week (women).
Seek medical advice from your healthcare provider when you’re given a prescription for antibiotics if you’re unsure whether you can drink with it or not.
Do steroids make you fat?
Steroids change how your body deposits fat and slows down your metabolism, therefore causing weight gain, especially in the abdomen.
Can you have a beer on steroids?
Drinking one beer while taking steroids is OK. However, you should not drink heavily because side effects can develop. These side effects include gastrointestinal problems, stomach ulcers, a weakened immune system, weight gain, chest pain, dehydration, and mental health issues, among others.
Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction
- Inpatient Programs — Inpatient treatment is the option for alcohol addiction treatment. These intensive programs are usually 30, 60, or 90 days but can be longer in certain cases. Throughout the duration of your stay at an inpatient rehab facility, you will live on site is a safe, substance-free environment. You will go through medically supervised detoxification first, then behavioral therapy and other services will be added to your regimen. Most programs will will help you set up an aftercare program upon completion.
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) — Partial hospitalization programs (also called intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs) are comparable to inpatient programs, but you return home after each session. Some PHPs provide food and transportation, but this varies by program. Their services may include detoxification, medical services, behavioral therapy, support groups, and other holistic or custom treatments. PHPs accept new patients, along with patients who have completed an inpatient treatment program and still require intensive care.
- Outpatient Programs — Outpatient programs are less intensive and offer a more flexible treatment schedule. They are best for people who have responsibilities at work, home, or school and are highly motivated to achieve sobriety. Outpatient treatment programs customize your treatment sessions around your personal schedule. Outpatient programs can help new patients achieve success, and may also be a part of aftercare program once a patient completes an inpatient or PHP.
- Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) — Certain patients with Alcohol Use Disorder will qualify for medication-assisted therapy. Medications can help you detoxify, reduce cravings, and normalize bodily functions. Disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral), and naltrexone (Revia and Vivitrol) are the most common medications used to treat Alcohol Use Disorder. MAT is most effective when combined with other treatment therapies.
- Support Groups — Support groups are peer-led groups that help people stay sober. They can be a first step in overcoming alcoholism or a component of an aftercare plan. Many of them follow the 12-step approach, however there are secular options that don't follow the 12-step approach as well.