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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.
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.
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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.
There is no clear or straightforward answer to whether it is safe to drink alcohol while taking steroids. It depends on several factors, including:
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. 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.
There are several possible side effects of mixing steroids with alcohol. These include:
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. With prolonged misuse, this may lead to cirrhosis or liver failure.
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.
If you have developed an addiction to steroids, the following withdrawal symptoms may develop if you stop using the drug abruptly:
Treatment options for steroid and alcohol addiction may include a combination of:
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.
Steroids like prednisone provide 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.
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.
Steroids change how your body deposits fat and slows down your metabolism, therefore causing weight gain, especially in the abdomen.
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.
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Anabolic Steroids DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2018, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids
Alcohol's Effects on the Body, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects-body
Prednisone, MedlinePlus, 2020, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601102.html
Traversy, Gregory, and Jean-Philippe Chaput, Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update. Current obesity reports vol. 4,1 (2015): 122-30, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338356/
Can I drink alcohol while taking antibiotics?, United Kingdom National Health Service, 2018, https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/medicines/can-i-drink-alcohol-while-taking-antibiotics/