What Are The Risks Of Taking Ibuprofen And Alcohol?

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  • What Are The Risks of Taking Ibuprofen and Alcohol? – Abbeycare


The risks of taking ibuprofen and alcohol are:

What Are The Risks Of Taking Ibuprofen And Alcohol_small

Risks Of Taking Ibuprofen And Alcohol

Kidney Disease

Combining alcohol and ibuprofen causes kidney disease, as it stops the production of cyclooxygenase [2].

Stomach Conditions

The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding rises 2.8% when mixing ibuprofen and alcohol [3].

Gastritis, stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding are caused by mixing ibuprofen and alcohol [4].

Liver Damage

Ibuprofen mixed with alcohol increases liver cirrhosis or disease by 40%; as both are filtered through the liver [5].

what are the risks of taking ibuprofen and alcohollarge

Increased Risk Factors With Co-occurring Conditions

Liver Cirrhosis

Mixing ibuprofen and alcohol is specifically not advised in those suffering from cirrhosis as the liver is unable to process alcohol or ibuprofen [6].

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Mental Health Conditions

Those with anxiety, depression or schizophrenia are 51% more likely to self-medicate with alcohol and ibuprofen and be less concerned about potential health risks [7].


Mixing ibuprofen and alcohol causes lower production of red blood cells, stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding; causing anaemia.

Increased Risk Factors With Co-occurring Medication

Blood Thinners

Ibuprofen, alcohol and anti-coagulant medicines all have blood thinning capabilities, causing a 3-fold increased risk of haemorrhage [8] [9].

Prescribed Steroids

Drinking alcohol with steroids causes peptic ulcers, whereas ibuprofen and steroids suppress the immune system, causing the body to be unable to fight off ulcers or other infections.


Ibuprofen and codeine are combined as pain relief, but when mixed with alcohol cause drowsiness [10].

Asthma Medication

Mixing alcohol, ibuprofen and asthma medication has a 35% chance of increasing asthma symptoms [11].

Heart Medication

Drinking alcohol with ibuprofen and amlodipine causes a 1.6% increase in blood pressure [12].

Combining alcohol and beta blockers lowers blood pressure, leading to hypertension; whereas ibuprofen reduces the effects of beta blockers by 16.6%, leading to stomach bleeding or stomach ulcers [13].

Increased Risk Factors - Other Drug Interactions


Those who combine cocaine, ibuprofen and alcohol are 9 times more likely to suffer from heart disease or heart attacks [14].

Cocaine and alcohol use produces cocaethylene that builds in the liver, when combined with ibuprofen, leading to liver disease or cirrhosis.



Consuming alcohol with heroin and ibuprofen causes respiratory depression, damage to organs as a result of oxygen deprivation and a coma.


Alcohol, benzodiazepines and ibuprofen cause suppressed breathing and lower the amount of alcohol needed to overdose.

The body metabolises alcohol before benzodiazepines and ibuprofen, leading to both drugs remaining in the system; causing overdose, liver disease and kidney disease.

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At-Risk Groups When Combining Ibuprofen & Alcohol

Older Adults

When getting older, the body becomes less able to break down alcohol and ibuprofen; and interactions cause kidney disease, liver disease or stomach ulcers [15].

Young People

90% of of all alcoholic drinks consumed by young people are through binge drinking, that when combined with a 47.5% risk of gastrointestinal bleeding due to ibuprofen, increases the risk of damage to the body by 33% [16] [17].


Combined alcohol use with ibuprofen leads to a 1 in 10,000 increased risk of gastroschisis, poor lung development, joint contractures and pulmonary hypertension in newborns [18].

Reasons Behind Ibuprofen + Alcohol Use

Groups of people most likely to combine ibuprofen and alcohol are:

  • Car crash victims - alcohol is self-medicated alongside prescribed ibuprofen to deal with physical pain and trauma
  • Those who experience long-term chronic pain - 28% of those with chronic pain use alcohol to relieve pain [19]
  • Those attempting to withdraw from alcohol - ibuprofen use starts with self-medicating withdrawal symptoms but 42.6% of those will develop a cross-addiction to ibuprofen [20]

As combining ibuprofen and alcohol does not effectively treat any of these scenarios; medical professionals recommend instead:

  • Different pain medications for physical injuries or chronic pain
  • Attending physiotherapy for physical injuries

Specific Settings Change Associated Risks

Ibuprofen And Alcohol - Reduced Risk

Combining ibuprofen and alcohol has a reduced risk when:

  • It is part of a medical trial - researchers are required to follow requirements to ensure the safety of all participants
  • A medical professional recommends ibuprofen after alcohol use if there is no indication of alcohol abuse or if exceeding 14 units per week
  • If patients that are severely addicted to both alcohol and ibuprofen require withdrawing from combined ibuprofen and alcohol addiction in a supervised residential setting

Ibuprofen And Alcohol - Increased Risk

Combining alcohol and ibuprofen has an increased risk when:

  • Combined with diuretic medications - causes dehydration and hypertension that are exacerbated by alcohol use [21]
  • When being given anaesthesia - causes aspiration and cardiac arrest
  • When undergoing an operation - blood thinners such as ibuprofen and alcohol lead to excessive bleeding [22]
Abbeycare Pricing Bot

Last Updated: May 2, 2023

About the author

Harriet Garfoot

Harriet Garfoot BA, MA has an Undergraduate degree in Education Studies and English, and a Master's degree in English Literature, from Bishop Grosseteste University. Harriet writes on stress & mental health, and is a member of the Burney Society. Content reviewed by Peter Szczepanski (Clinical Lead).