Last Updated on May 27, 2024 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Prednisone helps treat a wide variety of ailments, making it a multipurpose medication. As with any prescription drug, however, there are certain precautions that must be taken to ensure the medication doesn’t cause any adverse effects or pose health risks. And, of course, with prednisone, alcohol consumption must be carefully monitored.

What is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a generic medication whose brand-name versions include Deltasone®, Rayos®, Sterapred, and Sterapred DS. These medications come in tablets or liquid solutions. Prednisone medication is prescription only, and dosages are tailored to each patient’s particular health condition.

As a corticosteroid medication, Prednisone is used to bolster low levels of naturally occurring steroids in the body. It also helps soothe inflammation caused by a range of medical conditions, including allergies, blood or bone marrow issues, ulcerative colitis, lupus, gastrointestinal issues, arthritis, adrenal dysfunction, skin problems, kidney ailments, and multiple sclerosis. Prednisone may also be prescribed to patients undergoing cancer treatment. In all cases, it calms the body’s immune system to decrease redness, swelling, and itching.

Prednisone Interactions and Side Effects

There may be several potential side effects for people who take prednisone. They can include the following:

  • Sleep disruption
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings or personality changes
  • Heartburn
  • Sweating
  • Acne and fragile, easily broken skin; purple blotches may also appear
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cuts or bruises that take longer than normal to heal
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Low sexual appetite
  • More hair growth on the body

Prednisone also poses more severe side effects. You must seek medical attention if you experience any of these serious symptoms:

  • Lightheadedness or seizures
  • Difficulty seeing or abnormal eye pain or redness
  • Confusion or a fragile grip on reality
  • Symptoms of an infection (such as fever, sore throat, cough)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Signs of depression may appear, as with alcohol abuse
  • Muscle tremors or uncontrollable tremors in the hands
  • Tingling, numb, or burning sensations in the face or extremities
  • Arrhythmia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach pain or distention
  • Dry cough
  • Signs of allergic reaction (hives, rash, or itching, as well as constricted breathing and swelling in the face, tongue, or throat)

Patients may also experience one of several prednisone interactions, which is a reason why people should discuss their medical history with their physicians before starting treatment with this medication. Conditions that may raise a red flag include diabetes, high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, infections, mental or emotional health issues, tuberculosis, cataracts or glaucoma, persistent eye infections, ulcers, threadworms, osteoporosis, myasthenia gravis, and seizures. Areas of the body especially susceptible to negative prednisone side effects: liver, heart, thyroid, intestines, or kidneys.

Prednisone interactions are also common with other medications, vitamins, and supplements. They can include the following generic drugs, plus many others:

  • Anticoagulants or blood thinners
  • Aspirin
  • Antifungals including fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, or voriconazole
  • Diuretics
  • Amiodarone
  • HIV protease inhibitors
  • Birth control pills, implants, patches, injectables, and other forms of hormone birth control
  • Diabetes medication
  • Aprepitant
  • Carbamazepine
  • Cimetidine
  • Clarithromycin
  • Cyclosporine
  • Phenobarbital
  • Delavirdine
  • Diltiazem
  • Dexamethasone
  • Efavirenz
  • Fentanyl
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Griseofulvin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meloxicam
  • Nefazodone
  • Nevirapine
  • Oxycodone
  • Phenytoin
  • Sertraline
  • Tramadol
  • Troleandomycin
  • Verapamil
  • Zafirlukast
  • Herbal supplements, especially St. John’s wort.

Prednisone may also lower the body’s capability to fight off infection, especially communicable diseases such as measles and chicken pox. It’s also advised that people on prednisone discuss with their physicians any vaccinations they are planning to get, as negative side effects may result from that. It is also possible to overdose on prednisone; signs include collapse, difficulty breathing, and unconsciousness.

Given the range of interactions and side effects, you may be wondering how long after taking prednisone can you drink alcohol. As with many prescription drugs, a better question would be, is it ever safe to combine prednisone and alcohol?

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Prednisone?

It can take up to a day for prednisone to completely clear itself from the body. Given that typically doses are taken one to four times a day, it’s easy to see that when it comes to prednisone, alcohol is not advised.

There are a couple of reasons why prednisone and alcohol generally don’t mix well.
Both substances decrease the effectiveness of the body’s immune system, which makes it more likely someone will contract an infection, or won’t be able to fight it off as well. Also, high blood sugar can be elevated to unhealthy levels with both prednisone and alcohol, which brings a greater risk of type 2 diabetes. The combination can also weaken bones and make them brittle, and it can cause stomach distress and even ulcers. Finally, both prednisone and alcohol can contribute to weight gain. Excess pounds can have a negative effect on overall health, which includes reinforcing that higher risk of diabetes.

In essence, anyone asking how long after taking prednisone can you drink alcohol should speak to their physician about their concerns. If alcohol consumption is chronic, it may be time to address that issue.

Treatment for Prednisone and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol use disorder is dangerous for a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health; if left untreated, it could lead to addiction and the risks that entails. Factor in use of a drug such as prednisone, and that combination can pose serious problems for anyone’s health and well being. Our ibogaine treatment center helps clients safely and effectively detox, supervised and guided by our team of experienced medical professionals. Contact us today to learn about how we can help you overcome dependency on substances and move forward towards recovery.