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Antibiotics represent one of the biggest successes of the modern medicine. There are many stories regarding the possible outcomes of mixing alcohol and antibiotics, most of them are just myths!
One of the greatest myths is that mixing antibiotics and alcohol could seriously mess one up. Although doctors do not advise mixing medicines with alcohol, only a few are actually affected by the combination with alcohol. The fact is: antibiotics have different routes of leaving the body. They are broken down by the liver, excreted in the urine or passing straight through in the feces. The excretion route determines how long the drugs stay active in the body and how often they need to be taken. What alcohol may do in combination with antibiotics is increase the drugs’ excretion rate or slow down the rate drugs are being broken down. [1]

Alcohol-Medication Interactions

Many medications and not only antibiotics in interaction with alcohol could lead to [2]:

  • increased risk of illness
  • injury
  • death

Statistics show that alcohol-medication interactions made up at least 25 percent of all emergency room visits.

Incidence of the alcohol-drugs interactions

Over 2,800 prescription drugs are available in the United States today and health experts prescribe 14 billion of them annually. Additionally, there are around 2,000 over-the-counter medications. With 70 percent of the adult population consuming alcohol occasionally and 10 percent drinking daily, some concurrent use of alcohol and medications is inevitable. [3]

Although people age 65 and older make up only 12 percent of the population, they consume 25 to 30 percent of all prescription medications and may be more likely to use them along with alcohol consumption. This puts this age group at particular risk for suffering the adverse consequences of such combinations. They are also more likely to experience medication side effects in comparison to younger people, and these effects tend to get more severe with advancing age.


What kind of drugs are antibiotics? These drugs kill or slow the growth of bacteria. They belong to the class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antiviral, antifungal, and anti-parasitic drugs.

Classes of Antibiotics [4]


  • Amikacin
  • Gentamicin
  • Kanamycin
  • Neomycin
  • Netilmicin
  • Streptomycin
  • Tobramycin


  • Loracarbef


  • Ertapenem
  • Imipenem/Cilastatin
  • Meropenem


  • Cefadroxil
  • Cefazolin
  • Cephalexin
  • Cefamandole
  • Cefoxitin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Cefepime


  • Teicoplanin
  • Vancomycin


  • Azithromycin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Dirithromycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Troleandomycin


  • Aztreonam


  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Azlocillin
  • Carbenicillin
  • Cloxacillin
  • Dicloxacillin
  • Flucloxacillin
  • Mezlocillin
  • Nafcillin
  • Penicillin
  • Piperacillin
  • Ticarcillin


  • Bacitracin
  • Colistin
  • Polymyxin B


  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Enoxacin
  • Gatifloxacin
  • Norfloxacin
  • Ofloxacin
  • Trovafloxacin


  • Mafenide
  • Prontosil (archaic)
  • Sulfacetamide
  • Sulfamethizole
  • Sulfanilimide (archaic)
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Sulfisoxazole
  • Trimethoprim


  • Demeclocycline
  • Doxycycline
  • Tetracycline
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