Alcohol And Acetaminophen Risks

Generally, side effects of Acetaminophen are low or non-threatening; they may include skin reactions and headaches. Adding alcohol to the mix increases the risk of side effects, however; stomach bleeding, abdominal swelling, and liver damage may occur. The liver can simultaneously metabolize the ingredients in Acetaminophen and alcohol; when the 2 are combined, however, they can cause liver damage (also known as hepatotoxicity) or even kidney damage. WebMD states that this combination “produces a 123% increased risk of kidney disease.”

In addition to kidney-related challenges, those frequently taking alcohol with Acetaminophen increase their risks of having liver-related problems. Much research is still being done on the connection between alcohol use and Acetaminophen, research that will provide more evidence on how the kidney can be affected. Nevertheless, out of 2.6% of participants in the National Health And Nutritional Examination Survey, 1.2% reported kidney dysfunction.

Alcohol And Acetaminophen Symptoms

Since the liver is responsible for metabolizing drugs and alcohol, combining these may overwhelm the liver. Kidney and liver failure are not the only risks associated with alcohol and Acetaminophen cocktails. Aside from kidney damage, someone could also experience:

  • Stomach pain
  • Ulcers and bleeding
  • Rapid heartbeat

In addition to the above symptoms, someone can experience signs of liver damage such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Unusual bruising
  • Abdominal pain on the right side of the body
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Excessive sweating

People who consume Acetaminophen with alcohol may have underlying challenges related to alcohol abuse. It may be helpful to consider how often they consume alcohol outside of the context of taking Acetaminophen and examine if they run the risk of having an alcohol use disorder or other factors encouraging drinking. Questions for reflection can include:

  • Is the individual taking alcohol to soothe stress?
  • Do they binge drink? Do they use other chemicals that could be more harmful than Acetaminophen?
  • Do they have a history of drinking?
  • Have you witnessed them talking about using other drugs?
  • Is the individual experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety?

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These are important considerations to determine if there is an alcohol-related use disorder than can become progressively worse over time. Alcohol is a highly addictive substance that is highly abused and can change the chemistry of the brain. If someone is abusing alcohol and is unable to drink in moderation, this indicates professional help is needed to combat this addiction.

How Acetaminophen Affects People With Alcoholism

Chronic, prolonged use of alcohol can cause damage to vital organs. Long-term alcohol use can contribute to kidney toxicity, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, heart failure, brain damage, and a physical dependence. Someone with an alcohol use disorder may already have a compromised liver, and combining Acetaminophen with more alcohol can worsen the risk of irreparable damage. They are at an increased risk of having kidney or liver failure and should not combine the 2. Drinking water or other non-alcoholic beverages while taking Acetaminophen can reduce risk; harm can also be mitigated by consuming less than 3,000 mg of Acetaminophen daily, taking Acetaminophen for 10 days or fewer, having smaller amounts of alcohol each day, having 3 drinks or fewer of alcohol a day, and being mindful of other medications consumed.

Talking to a medical professional about taking Acetaminophen is suggested to ensure responsible pain management. Also, it is essential to be aware of sensations in the body that can signal liver damage; these can include abdominal swelling, lethargy, excessive sweating, bruising, or unusual bleeding. If taking Acetaminophen becomes a problem, consider alternative pain relievers that may be more natural. Do not combine them with alcohol. If alcohol use is a challenge, consider seeking professional treatment for assistance. This may uncover motives for alcoholism along with providing counseling and drugs to reduce withdrawal.

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What Is Acetaminophen?

Acetaminophen or Paracetamol is an Analgesic or pain reliever. It is an active ingredient used to help headaches, period cramps, mild aches and pains, backaches, flu-like symptoms, and tooth pain from a toothache or dental work. Acetaminophen is generally safe and not habit forming and can be found on shelves in stores as brands like Tylenol. Individuals taking Acetaminophen take the pill via mouth and can find relief in less than half an hour after consumption. They are safe for children but should be taken with caution. Some brands offer a children’s version that has an appropriate dose.

Despite its effectiveness in providing pain relief, it is not always best for those seeking relief for inflammation. Breastfeeding mothers taking Acetaminophen should consult a doctor beforehand just to be safe. Acetaminophen is taken orally, with the dosage written on the back of the bottles.

Get Help

Ingesting alcohol with Acetaminophen can be uncomfortable at best and fatal at worst. Support is available. If you or a loved one needs rehab-related help, contact a treatment provider.



Krystina Murray

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  • Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

Dayna Smith-Slade

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  • Dayna Smith-Slade is a nationally certified Master Addictions Counselor (MAC), licensed Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), and Substance Abuse Expert (SAE) with over 29 of hands-on experience in the addiction field.

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