Imuran is a prescription drug that affects your immune system. Its generic name is azathioprine. Some of the conditions it helps treat result from autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

In these diseases, your immune system attacks and damages parts of your own body. Imuran decreases your body’s immune system responses. This allows your body to heal and prevents further damage.

Although Imuran does not come with specific warnings against drinking alcohol, mixing the two substances could lead to adverse effects.

Alcohol can increase your risk of side effects from Imuran. That’s because drinking too much alcohol can have some of the same negative effects on your body, such as causing pancreatitis. Another possible side effect is liver damage.

The risk of these side effects is low, but it increases with the more alcohol you drink and the more frequently you drink it.

Your liver breaks down many substances and toxins, including both alcohol and Imuran. When you drink large amounts of alcohol, your liver uses up all its stores of an antioxidant called glutathione.

Glutathione helps protect your liver and is also important for safely removing Imuran from your body. When there’s no more glutathione left in your liver, both alcohol and Imuran can damage liver cells, which can lead to serious health problems.

One case, published in 2007, found that binge-drinking led to dangerous liver damage in a person with Crohn’s disease who was taking Imuran. This occurred even though the person never had liver problems in the past and didn’t drink alcohol every day.

You’re also at increased risk of infections while you take Imuran, as it weakens your immune system. And drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it even more difficult for your body to fight infections.

Both people who drink large amounts of alcohol only occasionally (binge drinking) and those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol regularly are at risk of infections.

No definitive amount of alcohol is identified as “too much” while you’re on Imuran. That’s why experts recommend that you stick to fewer than one or two drinks per day. The following amounts each equal one standard alcoholic drink:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces (one shot) of 80-proof distilled spirits, including vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, and tequila

If you have questions about how much alcohol you can drink while taking Imuran, talk to your doctor.

While no specific recommendations exist, drinking large amounts of alcohol while you take Imuran can have serious risks. If you’re considering drinking alcohol while you take Imuran, talk to your doctor first.

Your doctor knows your health history and is the best person to help you make the best decision for you.