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Acetaminophen and Alcohol - Risks

Cheers to making wise choices for your liver's sake!
Uncover the truth behind the combination of acetaminophen and alcohol, and how to navigate their consumption without jeopardizing your well-being. If you, or a loved one is struggling with addiction, our  alcohol rehab in Thailand has a proven record of success since 2017.
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It isn't very difficult to do the math on this one. With over half of all Americans drinking alcohol on a casual or regular basis and almost one-quarter of Americas taking acetaminophen weekly (for one reason or another), the chances are overwhelmingly high that combining acetaminophen and alcohol is a common occurrence.

But a lot of people still searching for help with understanding if there are there any dangers in mixing drugs and alcohol, and should they be taken together at all?

Always diligent in confronting the myths affecting our reader's health and well-being, we have put together a quick article explaining a few important considerations, facts, and even warnings, about acetaminophen and alcohol.
Key Takeaways
Moderate alcohol consumption is acceptable before taking acetaminophen, but it's better to separate the two substances.
Both alcohol and acetaminophen can harm the liver. Frequent use of both substacnes will increase the risk of liver damage, and failure.
Combining alcohol and acetaminophen can increase the risk of renal damage, as well as cause gastrointestinal bleeding, and blood coagulation issues.

Drinking Alcohol & Taking Acetaminophen

So, let's cut to the chase and address the most obvious question first.

Can you consume Tylenol and alcohol together, or not?

The short answer is yes, low to moderate alcohol consumption before taking Tylenol is fine in most cases - although we would advise against it unless absolutely necessary, and you should certainly only do so in moderation.

The definition of drinking in 'moderation' basically means a sensible amount of alcohol in any one day.

Or, to be more precise about it, no more than a couple of drinks (for men) and one single drink (for women), according to the CDC guidelines on alcohol consumption.

While acetaminophen and alcohol (or Tylenol and alcohol, to use a popular brand name) can be taken at the same time (assuming you are within the dosage limits and have had no more than a couple of drinks), it is preferable to put some distance between the two substances, depending on various factors.

Mixing alcohol with Tylenol together at the same time is not a good idea.

How Long After Drinking Can I Take Tylenol?

As noted, if you are taking acetaminophen as prescribed by the manufacturer or licensed medical professionals, you are ok to take it while under the effects of alcohol use - providing you have had no more than a couple of drinks.

That said, it is preferable to give yourself a two-hour window if possible for reasons we shall explain. However, if you have taken more than a couple of drinks, it would be infinitely better to create even more distance between the two substances, depending on how many drinks you have had.

If you have had a few drinks (and we use that term in the loosest possible way), you should wait a good 4 to 6 hours before taking acetaminophen. For those who occasionally binge drink or have been excessive drinking, the safest approach here is to wait at least 48 hours before taking acetaminophen.

Trust us when we say there is a very good reason for this, mostly relating to a pretty nasty occurrence that is best avoided at all costs: liver disease or severe liver damage. 

Let's quickly go over that in a little more detail and explain the dangers acetaminophen and alcohol present to the liver when combined and how too much can cause liver damage.

Are Tylenol and Alcohol Bad for Your Liver?

In short, yes. If you drink alcohol and take Tylenol (or acetaminophen) frequently, this can cause liver damage - as a worst-case scenario. Or at least to varying degrees.

As with anything in life, it really comes down to excess. No amount of acetaminophen and alcohol use are 'good' for the liver in any way (of course), and it could be argued that even low amounts are 'bad' for the liver. 

Staying within recommended amounts and dosages is unlikely to cause liver damage if done so occasionally, however, but this depends on how much you take and how often as there is are scientific, biological reason for that.

Acetaminophen (or, indeed, any medication or drug) is broken down and utilized by enzymes in the liver. During this process, the body converts Acetaminophen into something more harmful to the body. 

That isn't too much of a problem in itself because the liver begins to do its job and expels this harmful substance, but when you introduce alcohol to the mix, the body creates even more harmful chemicals as a byproduct, which the liver finds harder to remove.

Liver Damage

The more you drink, the more of this harmful, toxic substance there is in the body, which the liver finds increasingly harder to expel. This harmful substance basically stays inside the liver for a longer period of time, causing eventual acute liver damage if done frequently.

Even if you stay within the acceptable dosage of acetaminophen, and alcohol use, taking them frequently for a long period of time can cause liver damage or, in the worst cases, even acute liver failure.

Signs of Liver Damage

Obviously, the liver is an important organ that performs a number of vital body processes essential to our lives. When the liver's function is compromised, a condition called liver damage (commonly referred to as liver disease) develops. 

There may not be any signs in the early stages of liver illness, but as the disease worsens, a few widespread signs and symptoms may begin to manifest.

These include drowsiness, sluggishness, and overall malaise. Furthermore, jaundice, marked by yellowing of the skin and eyes, can occur in persons with liver issues. They might also get a bloated stomach or lose weight for no apparent reason.

How Acetaminophen Affects People With Alcoholism

Acetaminophen can have distinct effects on alcoholics compared to non-alcoholics. People suffering from alcoholism might already have a compromised liver, which makes them less able to digest the drug properly.

Because of this, those who struggle with alcoholism may not be able to metabolize acetaminophen as well, which raises the possibility of liver damage and other negative health effects.

As already noted, mixing acetaminophen and alcohol can result in a toxic byproduct that damages the liver, even in people without liver problems.

Alcoholics should avoid the use of acetaminophen, or at the very least, must take it cautiously and in accordance with dosage instructions to avoid further harm.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder, we are here to help. For further information on alcohol abuse related topics, we have a range of blog posts on the subject that might be useful to you.

Effects of Alcohol and Tylenol

In addition to potential liver damage, there is also a risk of further medical conditions, disease, and general ailments when combining the two substances, including renal damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, and problems with blood coagulation. Alcohol's capacity to raise stomach acidity, which can result in the formation of ulcers and internal bleeding, increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Similarly, the combination of alcohol and Tylenol may have an adverse effect on the kidneys as alcohol can make the kidneys work harder and less efficiently, which can potentially lead to kidney disease if combining the two substances frequently.

Another noteworthy point is that many people reach for Tylenol to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms - in other words, a nasty hangover. We strongly advise against this for all of the reasons previously mentioned. Your body still contains levels of alcohol even several hours after your last drink, so if you have been drinking large amounts the previous night, your liver and kidneys will be working even harder to expel both substances.

Can You Overdose on Tylenol and Alcohol?

Yes, although the danger of overdose is far greater when alcohol is drunk consistently or in large amounts, as the liver becomes more sensitive to injury over time. A person's risk of overdosing may also rise if they have a lesser tolerance for alcohol or Tylenol than others.

To mitigate the risk of overdose, it is essential to follow the suggested dosages of both Tylenol and alcohol and to use them infrequently. Acetaminophen most certainly shouldn't be your 'go-to' solution for frequent hangovers.

Be Careful!

In summary, Tylenol (or acetaminophen) is a relatively safe pain reliever if taken occasionally and staying within the recommended dose. You can combine alcohol and acetaminophen in low amounts, but we would advise against it.

If you have alcohol-related issues, you should seek medical professional medical advice before taking Tylenol.

At Miracles Asia, we have improved the lives of many people suffering from mental health disorder, alcoholism, drug addiction, and various other substance-related conditions.

Our team of trained experts in the field of addiction treatment are ready to help you or a loved one through alcohol withdrawal or substance use issues at our rehab that's all about getting results for people who really want to change their lives.

Feel free to reach out and contact us and get the help you or a loved one need through residential treatment that really works!

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