It’s possible to drink alcohol without harmful side effects while you take Aleve. However, some serious side effects from this mixture can occur if you misuse Aleve or drink too much alcohol while you use it. Before you mix the two, here are some things you should know.
What to know about Aleve and alcohol
Aleve is a brand of naproxen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs are used to temporarily lower fever and relieve:
- muscle pains
- menstrual pain
- minor pain from arthritis
Generally, you can drink alcohol when you use Aleve without harmful effects. However, you need to use Aleve as directed and drink only moderately. This means having no more than three standard drinks per day.
Risks of harmful side effects
Aleve works by reducing the amount of a substance called prostaglandin that your body makes. When you have an injury (such as damaged tissue), your body releases prostaglandin. It contributes to inflammation in a variety of ways, including swelling and fever. It also makes your nerve receptors more sensitive to pain. By limiting the amount of prostaglandin your body can release, Aleve can reduce these effects.
However, Aleve also reduces the protective effects of prostaglandin, such as the repair and maintenance of your stomach lining.
Normally, reducing the protective effect of prostaglandin by taking Aleve does not cause side effects, especially if you use it as directed. However, side effects such as gastritis (inflammation of your stomach lining) and stomach bleeding are possible. Taking more Aleve than recommended increases these risks.
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can also increase the possibility of gastritis and stomach bleeding. When you use too much of both Aleve and alcohol, you put yourself at risk of severe stomach bleeding and gastritis. This is even more likely if you’re older than 60 years.
Minimizing your risks
Here are ways you can reduce the possibility of harmful side effects from mixing alcohol and Aleve:
Make sure not to take other NSAIDs when you take Aleve. All NSAIDs have the potential to cause gastritis and stomach bleeding. Taking them with Aleve can have the same effect as taking too much Aleve. It’s best to take only one product that contains an NSAID at a time.
Understand your health history. Don’t use Aleve and alcohol together without talking to your doctor if you have a history of stomach ulcers, bleeding, or other problems. Your doctor may recommend another pain reliever.
Use Aleve as directed. Avoid using Aleve for longer than recommended, especially if you drink alcohol. Overuse can increase your risk of stomach bleeding and other side effects. Taking Aleve for too long with alcohol can increase your risks just like taking too much Aleve can.
When to call your doctor
Stop taking Aleve and call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
- bloody vomit
- bloody or black stools
- stomach pain that doesn’t get better
These may be signs of gastritis and stomach bleeding. While using Aleve with alcohol is generally safe, you should know the symptoms to watch for so you can take action right away if they occur. Remember, you can reduce your risk of harmful effects by:
- using the recommended amount of Aleve
- using it for the recommended amount of time
- drinking alcohol only in moderation