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Mixing Alcohol and Propranolol

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Alcohol and propranolol both have a sedative effect on various systems of the body. Mixing alcohol and propranolol can lead to increased side effects and potential dangers.

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What Is Propranolol & What Does It Treat?

Propranolol is a medication health care providers prescribe to treat different health conditions. It belongs to a class of drugs called beta-blockers.

It is commonly prescribed for various conditions, including:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • Migraine prevention
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety disorders

How Does Propranolol Work?

Propranolol works by blocking the effects of a chemical called adrenaline, also known as epinephrine. Adrenaline is a natural substance the body produces in response to stress or excitement. It activates specific receptors called beta-adrenergic receptors, found in various organs and tissues throughout the body, including the heart.

By blocking the effects of adrenaline, propranolol has several effects on the body:

  • Heart — Propranolol reduces the heart rate and force of contraction. This helps to slow down the heart’s rhythm, reduce the workload on the heart, and lower blood pressure.
  • Blood vessels — Propranolol causes the blood vessels to relax and widen, decreasing blood pressure. This effect can be particularly helpful in conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Lungs — Propranolol can constrict the airways in the lungs, which can be a concern if you have certain respiratory conditions such as asthma. It’s generally avoided in people with significant respiratory issues.
  • Central Nervous System — Propranolol can also affect the central nervous system, including the brain, and help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and migraines. It can block certain signals that trigger anxiety-related symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate and trembling.

Side Effects of Propranolol Use

Some common side effects of propranolol include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Can You Safely Drink Alcohol While Taking Propranolol?

Healthcare professionals do not recommend drinking alcohol while taking propranolol. Mixing the two can cause negative interactions, as both can affect the body’s cardiovascular system. When alcohol and propranolol interact, it can cause an increase in drowsiness, dizziness, and lightheadedness.

Alcohol can also interfere with how well propranolol works to lower blood pressure and control irregular heartbeats; this can potentially cause serious or even life-threatening side effects.

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Can Consuming Alcohol While Taking Beta-Blockers Be Dangerous?

Drinking alcohol while taking beta-blockers like propranolol can be dangerous due to the increased risk of side effects and potential interactions. It is essential to discuss your alcohol consumption with your healthcare provider to determine what is safe for you.

Possible Adverse Side Effects of Alcohol Consumption & Propranolol

Propranolol and alcohol can interact, and it’s recommended to exercise caution when using them together. Here are a few important points to consider:

  • Increased sedation and drowsiness. Propranolol and alcohol can cause drowsiness and impair cognitive function. When used together, they can increase sedation and drowsiness, affecting your alertness and coordination and making tasks like driving or operating machinery more dangerous.
  • Blood pressure and heart rate. Propranolol can lower blood pressure and heart rate, and so can alcohol. Using them together can intensify these effects, significantly decreasing blood pressure and heart rate, causing dizziness, fainting, and even cardiovascular complications.
  • Masking effects. Propranolol can mask the physical symptoms typically associated with alcohol consumption, such as an increased heart rate or palpitations. It can be difficult to gauge your level of alcohol intoxication, potentially leading to excessive alcohol consumption and its associated risks.
  • Liver metabolism. Both propranolol and alcohol are metabolized in the liver. Simultaneous use of the two can strain the liver and affect its ability to process these substances, increasing the risk of liver damage.

Can Propranolol Be Taken for a Hangover?

Propranolol should not be taken for a hangover because it is not intended to treat the symptoms of alcohol consumption. Taking propranolol while still under the influence of alcohol can lead to further complications.

What Should Not Be Mixed With Propranolol?

Several medications and substances should not be mixed with propranolol, including:

  • Other beta-blockers.
  • Certain antiarrhythmic medications.
  • Calcium channel blockers.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Alcohol.

Always consult your healthcare provider before taking new medications or substances while on propranolol.

How Long Should You Wait to Drink After Taking Propranolol?

The exact duration to wait before consuming alcohol after taking propranolol can vary depending on various factors, including your metabolism, dosage of propranolol, and overall health condition. However, healthcare providers recommended avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption while taking propranolol.

It’s important to note that everyone’s response to medications and alcohol can differ, so it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for personalized advice regarding alcohol consumption while taking propranolol. They can provide specific recommendations based on your circumstances and ensure your safety and well-being.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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