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Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Doxycycline?

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Table of Contents

If you’re taking doxycycline and considering having a few drinks at happy hour, it’s important to exercise caution.

Even if your prescription bottle does not explicitly state that it should not be used with alcohol, it may still be a good idea to avoid doing so. 

Find out more about doxycycline, its potential side effects, and the reasons why it’s best to abstain from consuming alcohol when taking it.

What is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline belongs to the tetracycline antibiotics class of drugs. It is available in two forms: doxycycline hyclate (Vibramycin, Doryx) and doxycycline monohydrate (Oracea, Monodox). Both are equally effective. They differ in how rapidly they are absorbed by your body.

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Doxycycline antibiotics are used to treat a range of illnesses brought on by particular bacterial strains. When treating bacterial infections, doxycycline works by preventing the growth of bacteria. 

This antibiotic only works on bacterial illnesses. It is ineffective against viral infections such as the common cold and flu. This medication is only available with a prescription from your doctor and is typically prescribed once or twice daily. Doxycycline is available in the following oral dosage forms: suspension (liquid), capsule, tablet, and delayed-release tablet. 

Doxycycline Uses

Doxycycline prevents the production of a bacterial protein by binding to certain protein units. As a result, it inhibits the protein from multiplying and treats your infection.

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This medicine is used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections, including acne, sexually transmitted infections (such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis), eye infections, lung infections, periodontitis (gum disease), urinary tract infections, and others.

It is also believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect when treating other conditions. Additionally, it is used as a malaria prophylaxis and as a treatment for Lyme disease and anthrax infections after exposure.

Doxycycline should be taken exactly as directed by your doctor. Follow every instruction on the prescription label. Never use this medication in excess, in lesser quantity, or for an extended period of time. If you stop taking the medication abruptly or do not take it as prescribed, your infection will likely persist.

What Should I Know Before Taking Doxycycline?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to doxycycline or other tetracycline antibiotics, including minocycline, demeclocycline, or tigecycline.

Other health problems may affect the use of this type of antibiotic. Notify your medical provider right away if you have the following symptoms:

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver problems
  • Lupus
  • Vaginal candidiasis (yeast) infections
  • Intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri that can cause headaches, vision loss, and blurry or double vision)
  • If you also take seizure medicine, isotretinoin, or a blood thinner drug like warfarin

How to Take Doxycycline

Doxycycline is acquired via a doctor’s prescription and used for short-term therapy. Your age, the condition being treated, the severity of your illness, other health issues, and your response to the first dose will determine your prescription’s dosage, form, and frequency.

Take doxycycline carefully as prescribed by your doctor. Never take it in larger doses or for a longer amount of time than recommended. If you don’t take it as prescribed, it can lead to several health risks.

This antibiotic medication can be taken with or without meals. 

Even if you feel better, keep taking doxycycline until you have completed the course. The infection could resurface if your medication is stopped too soon.

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According to NHS, it’s advisable to take doxycycline while in an upright position, whether you’re standing, sitting, or walking. By doing so, the antibiotics won’t irritate your stomach or food pipe. Refrain from lying down for at least 30 minutes after taking doxycycline.

If you skip doses or don’t follow the prescribed schedule for doxycycline, the medication may not work as effectively in treating bacterial infections. To ensure the best results, it’s important to take the full course of antibiotics as directed by your doctor.

Additionally, it may result in antibiotic resistance, which means doxycycline or other antibiotics won’t be effective for treating your infection in the future.

If you’re in doubt, thoroughly read and follow the doxycycline packaging’s directions. You may also speak with your doctor if you have additional concerns.

Why You Should Avoid Mixing Doxycycline and Alcohol

The possible adverse effects of doxycycline include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness. Alcohol use has the potential to make these negative effects worse.

While a moderate amount of alcohol may not affect the effectiveness of doxycycline, it is generally recommended to avoid drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics to lower the risk of undesirable side effects.

Can I Drink Alcohol?

A moderate amount of alcohol may not affect the effectiveness of doxycycline. However, it is safer to consume alcohol after you complete the antibiotic therapy to promote healing from infection and prevent side effects.

Furthermore, doxycycline can interact with alcohol in persons with a history of chronic drinking or heavy alcohol use. Heavy drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as having more than four alcoholic drinks per day for men and more than three drinks per day for women.

Alcohol should be avoided when using doxycycline if a person is a chronic or heavy drinker, has liver disease, or takes many medicines. This can exacerbate liver problems and interact with the efficacy of other medications. In addition, drinking alcohol may reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotics.

What Happens When You Drink On Doxycycline

Alcohol and food metabolize differently in the body. As a result, it can prevent the body from absorbing your medication properly.

In the case of doxycycline, alcohol can accelerate drug elimination from the body. When you do not receive the full coverage of your antibiotic treatment, your bacterial infection may not be cleared as intended.

When you eat, your body goes through the regular digestive process of breaking down the food. However, when you consume alcohol, regardless of what else you have eaten or what else your body is healing from, the metabolism of alcohol takes priority.

How Alcohol Consumption Impacts Your Immune System

Alcohol can alter how your immune system responds. It can lessen your body’s natural defenses in your lungs, allowing respiratory infections to develop. In the gut, it can cause inflammation and changes in gut flora, which might lower your natural immunity and make infections more recurrent. Your body’s reaction to antibiotics may be compromised. As a result, increasing the risk of health complications.

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The effect of moderate drinking is not as evident as taking alcoholic beverages regularly. Frequent and heavy alcohol use can change how the immune system responds to threats, increasing the likelihood of infection-related problems.

Alcohol consumption can delay your illness or infection from healing. Additionally, drinking alcohol can prevent your body from absorbing essential nutrients and also interfere with your sleeping patterns.

You can only heal from an illness or infection faster if you get adequate sleep, consume a healthy diet, finish your antibiotic therapy as prescribed, and avoid certain substances that may interact with your treatment.

How Long After Stopping Doxycycline Can I Drink Alcohol?

Most pharmacological and medical advice states that it is okay to consume alcohol 48 to 72 hours following your last doxycycline medication. However, doxycycline has an elimination half-life of 16 to 22 hours in healthy individuals. This is the amount of time it takes your body to drop plasma levels by half. A medicine normally has to remain in your system for 5.5 times its elimination half-life (hours) before it is fully eliminated.

In other words, if we assume a maximum elimination half-life of 22 hours, it would take 121 hours (5.5 x 22 hours), or around 5 days, for the medication to be completely removed from your system.

It is best to ask your doctor because your doxycycline indication, specific dosage amount, and other health concerns may have a significant impact.

How long after stopping doxycycline can you drink alcohol? The most accurate answer is to wait until doxycycline has been completely eliminated from your system. This will help to prevent any potential drug-alcohol interactions and ensure that the medication is fully effective, including your last dose of antibiotics.

What Else Should I Avoid While Taking Doxycycline?

You’ll find instructions on what not to do while taking doxycycline on the label of your particular antibiotics. Generally speaking, you should avoid combining doxycycline with alcohol or dairy products since these might affect how the drug is absorbed. You can have dairy items a few hours before or a few hours following your dosage.

You should not drink alcoholic beverages until you have completed your course of doxycycline and have been approved by 1 your doctor.

Additionally, Doxycycline and several medications might interact, potentially increasing the risk of side effects or reducing the efficacy of the antibiotic.

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Always inform your doctor about any medications or supplements you’re taking, including herbal or over-the-counter medicines. Consult your doctor if you’re taking the following:

  • Anticoagulants or blood thinners (rivaroxaban, warfarin, apixaban)
  • Anticonvulsants (carbamazepine, phenytoin)
  • Antacids (aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate)
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital, pentobarbital)
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (an active ingredient in medicines such as Pepto-Bismol)
  • Diuretics (furosemide, bumetanide)
  • Iron supplements
  • Lithium
  • Methotrexate
  • Proton pump inhibitors (esomeprazole, omeprazole, pantoprazole)
  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin A supplements

Consult your physician if you are using any of these medications. Depending on your specific situation, your medical provider could advise you to:

  • Discontinue using one of the drugs
  • Switch one drug for another
  • Change the way you take any or both of the drugs

Doxycycline should not be taken by pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children below the age of eight. It can result in permanent graying or yellowing of the teeth in children under the age of eight.

Doxycycline could reduce the efficacy of hormonal birth control (birth control patches, rings, pills, or injections). Discuss other methods of birth control with healthcare professionals.

You may become more sensitive to sunlight if you use tetracycline antibiotics, including doxycycline. When going outside, wear protective clothing and use lots of sunscreen to prevent sunburn.

Any medication that has not been used before the label’s expiration date should be discarded. Using expired doxycycline can lead to kidney damage.

Always notify your healthcare practitioner about everything you are taking because there may be more potential drug interactions.

Potential Side Effects of Doxycycline

The following are common side effects of doxycycline:

  • Darkened skin color
  • Sensitivity to the sun
  • Skin rash or itching
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vaginal itching or discharge

If you experience a severe reaction that can greatly impact your health, seek medical attention immediately. Call your doctor if you have any serious side effects:

  • Throat irritation, trouble swallowing
  • Little or no urination
  • Severe stomach pain, diarrhea that is bloody or watery
  • Loss of appetite, tiredness, upper stomach pain that may spread to your back, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), nausea or vomiting, or fast heart rate
  • Low white blood cell count symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, weakness, swollen glands, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, irregular heart rhythm, feeling short of breath, or chest pain
  • Ringing in your ears, severe headaches, dizziness, vision problems, or pain behind your eyes, nausea

Doxycycline can also cause severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in rare circumstances. You may be having a severe reaction and may need immediate treatment if you have the following: 

  • A skin rash that may include red, swollen, blistered skin
  • Difficulty breathing or talking
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest or throat
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, throat, lips, or tongue

Inform your physician if you have ever experienced an allergic reaction to any antibiotics in the past.

Moreover, doxycycline may also have other adverse effects. If you have any unusual side effects while taking this antibiotic, call your doctor right away.

How Long Does It Take For Doxycycline To Work?

Doxycycline starts to act as soon as 2 hours after it is ingested. However, it might take you up to 24 to 48 hours to start experiencing the effects, depending on the condition you have. Although doxycycline normally takes 1 to 2 weeks to completely eliminate an infection, some infections can take up to 2 months. 

Several factors could influence how fast this medication starts to take effect. The primary factor is the severity of your condition. Because certain bacterial infections are simpler to treat than others, the medication acts much more quickly. For instance, it relieves bacterial sore throats faster than respiratory infections and sexually transmitted infections.

Aside from this, one of the key factors that might affect the medication’s effectiveness is taking specific vitamins or supplements, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and aluminum.

Your healthcare practitioner may offer you further information about what to expect, as the recovery period can vary for everyone.

What Will Happen If I Drink Alcohol?

Alcohol can cause doxycycline absorption to be delayed, prolonging the drug’s effectiveness and thereby prolonging your healing process. If you’re still recovering from an infection, it is best to avoid alcohol because of its potential interaction. 

There won’t be a severe reaction if you take doxycycline and a moderate amount of alcohol at the same time. However, it can prevent your medication from doing its purpose, which is to treat your infection successfully.

On the other hand, heavy consumption of alcohol is associated with weakened immune system function. According to research, heavy drinking while taking doxycycline lowers the medication’s blood levels and may impair its effectiveness. This effect can persist for several days, even after you stop drinking.

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If you’re someone who drinks alcohol frequently or has alcohol use disorder, the drug manufacturer advises switching to another medication.

What If I’ve Already Had Several Drinks?

Having a glass of wine while on doxycycline should not significantly harm you. Mixing doxycycline and alcohol won’t have any negative effects on your health if you just drink occasionally and do not have a history of liver damage.

However, if you have been drinking (even in moderation) while taking doxycycline and you feel dizzy, tired, or have an upset stomach, you should stop immediately.

Alcohol and doxycycline have similar side effects, such as upset stomach and nausea. If you take both, it could be difficult to determine which is the root of your symptoms.

Call your healthcare provider or visit the nearest emergency room if your symptoms are severe.

Should I Avoid Anything Else While Taking Doxycycline?

  • Food Interaction

Foods containing calcium may prevent your body from absorbing doxycycline properly. This means that the treatment for your condition may not be as effective. Cheese, yogurt, and milk are three examples of food that are high in calcium. Eat or drink these products at least an hour before or after taking this medication.

  • Drug Interaction

As mentioned, particular medications (such as diuretics and barbiturates) can cause interactions with doxycycline and make it less effective. However, the following medications may have life-threatening repercussions if combined with doxycycline:

  1. Isotretinoin– Your risk of developing intracranial hypertension might increase if you take isotretinoin and doxycycline simultaneously. Increased intracranial pressure is a serious condition when your brain’s blood pressure rises, resulting in symptoms like loss of consciousness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Increased intracranial pressure can occasionally cause permanent vision loss, including total blindness. Seizures, neurologic damage, stroke, and even death are other significant side effects of elevated intracranial pressure.
  2. Penicillin– Penicillin antibiotics kill bacteria, while doxycycline inhibits bacterial growth. When used with penicillin, doxycycline may interfere with its ability to kill bacteria.
  • Others

If you are on doxycycline, the oral form of the typhoid vaccine may not be effective. You may instead opt for the injectable vaccine since it is not a live vaccine. Hence it is safe to administer it with antibiotic therapy.

Whether you take doxycycline or not, binge drinking and chronic alcohol consumption can be hazardous. Remember that there are other types of alcohol besides wine, beer, liquor, and mixed drinks. Some mouthwash products and cough medicine also include it.

To prevent a severe reaction between alcohol and antibiotics, check the ingredient labels on these products.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Alcohol can slow the absorption of doxycycline, extending the drug’s efficacy and, thus, your recovery time. It is advised to stay away from alcohol while you are still healing from an infection due to potential interactions.

If you take doxycycline and a moderate amount of alcohol at the same time, you will not have a major, life-threatening reaction. However, it can stop your medication from doing its intended function, which is to effectively treat your illness.

On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption is linked to impaired immune system function. According to studies, consuming large amounts of alcohol while taking doxycycline reduces the drug’s blood levels and may reduce its efficacy. This effect can last for several days, even after you stop drinking.

Additionally, drinking alcohol can prevent your body from absorbing essential nutrients.

Most medical advice states that you can drink alcohol 48 to 72 hours after your last dose of doxycycline.

However, it is best to speak with a healthcare professional because your specific doxycycline dosage, condition, and other co-existing health issues may greatly influence alcohol consumption. To avoid making your final antibiotic medication ineffective, it’s recommended that you wait for at least five days after finishing doxycycline and completely eliminating it.

Generally speaking, you should not combine doxycycline with alcohol or dairy products since these might affect how the drug is absorbed. You can have dairy items a few hours before or a few hours following your dosage.

Doxycycline and several medications might interact:

  • Anticoagulants (warfarin, rivaroxaban, apixaban)
  • Anticonvulsants (carbamazepine, phenytoin)
  • Antacids (aluminum hydroxide, magnesium carbonate)
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital)
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (an active ingredient in medicines such as Pepto-Bismol)
  • Diuretics (furosemide, bumetanide)
  • Iron supplements
  • Lithium
  • Methotrexate
  • Proton pump inhibitors (esomeprazole, omeprazole, pantoprazole)
  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin A supplements

Avoid taking penicillin and isotretinoin since they have life-threatening repercussions when combined with doxycycline. Inform your medical provider about the medications you are taking.

Doxycycline should not be taken by pregnant women, nursing mothers, children below the age of eight, or women taking hormonal birth control pills.

Both alcohol and antibiotics can cause dizziness, sleepiness, and upset stomach. Combining these two substances can increase the likelihood of these side effects.

You should not mix alcohol with certain antibiotics, such as trimethoprim, metronidazole, and sulfamethoxazole. Doing so might result in more severe symptoms. When these substances are combined, the following undesirable side effects may be experienced: flushing, headaches, a rapid heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting.

If you struggle with alcohol use disorder and find it challenging to control your long-term alcohol consumption and antibiotic use, you may seek medical advice. Healthcare professionals will help you manage your symptoms and give personalized advice about a comprehensive treatment that works best for you.

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  1. National Health Service. (n.d.). Doxycycline. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/doxycycline/
  2. Patel RS, Parmar M. Doxycycline Hyclate. (2022, July 12). In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555888/
  3. MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Doxycycline. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682063.html
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Drinking Levels Defined. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking#:~:text=NIAAA%20defines%20heavy%20drinking%20as,than%207%20drinks%20per%20week
  5. Mergenhagen, K. A., Wattengel, B. A., & Skelly, M. K. (2020). Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 64(3), e02167-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/AAC.02167-19
  6. Sarkar, D., Jung, M. K., & Wang, H. J. (2015). Alcohol and the Immune System. Alcohol Research : Current Reviews, 37(2), 153–155.
  7. Holmes, N.E. & Charles, P.G.P. (n.d.). Safety and Efficacy Review of Doxycycline. Clinical Medicine Therapeutics. 2009;1. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.4137/CMT.S2035
  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, October 12). Doxycycline Hyclate Capsule. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=131af052-0c4f-4a61-ae9a-e6165ae09076

Author

Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

RADT
David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen
IMG-1545

LMFT
Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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