The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Lipitor

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Mixing alcohol and other substances can be harmful and lead to adverse side effects. Liptor and Alcohol are two substances that are not recommended to be combined. Lipitor, also known as Atorvastatin, is a medication used to treat increased levels of necessary cholesterol in the body, or high cholesterol. (1) High cholesterol is when too much cholesterol (a waxy substance found in the body) builds up, limiting proper blood flow. (2) High cholesterol can be dangerous as it can cause heart attack or stroke. Lipitor works by protecting the heart and blood vessels, thereby lowering the chances of various heart diseases.

According to the CDC, approximately 47 million adults take medications that target cholesterol levels and work to reduce them. (3) If you have been prescribed Lipitor, it is important to understand how it may interact with alcohol, especially if you consume alcohol regularly. Lipitor is a medication that is taken daily by tablet, and over a duration of years or throughout an individual’s lifetime. This makes it easier to engage in alcohol use while taking Lipitor as one may forget that the medication is in their system. Stopping alcohol use may be difficult if you are used to drinking daily.

If you find it difficult to cease alcohol use, or you experience alcohol related problems, you may be experiencing alcohol use disorder. Here, at Guardian Recovery, our team of skilled professionals will provide you with information and care regarding the steps to recovery. Our holisticindividualized therapy, and stabilization treatment options will aid you in reaching and maintaining successful sobriety. Contact us today to learn more and to begin your wellness journey with Guardian Recovery by your side.

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Alcohol & Lipitor

Alcohol, or ethanol, is a fermented liquid that can cause intoxication. (4) Alcohol use can increase cholesterol levels in the body. (5) Lipitor is a statin, or medication specifically used to lower cholesterol. (6) Taking a substance that increases cholesterol, while simultaneously taking one that decreases cholesterol can be ineffective and not lead to improvements in cholesterol health.

Statins are common medications, with 35 million individuals receiving a prescription for one. (7) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that caution should be taken for individuals who consume significant quantities of alcohol while taking Lipitor. (8) This is due to the negative side effects elicited when these two substances are combined.

Side Effects of Mixing Lipitor & Alcohol

The side effects when mixing Lipitor and alcohol have the potential to be dangerous. Both alcohol and Lipitor have their own associated side effects. Mixing the two causes these side effects to be heightened. Combining Lipitor and alcohol increases the risk of experiencing: (9)

  • Muscle impairments.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Increased risk of stroke.
  • Problems with cholesterol.
  • Liver damage.

Statins have also been found to worsen diseases associated with chronic alcohol use. A study investigating Lipitor’s effects on rats found that the medication exacerbated the symptoms associated with alcohol-induced cerebral artery constriction, which tightens the blood vessels connected to the brain. (10) Elevated triglycerides levels, or hypertriglyceridemia, can also be a result of combining Lipitor and alcohol. Hypertriglyceridemia is when too much fat builds up in the bloodstream, causing heart disease, hardened arteries, and stroke. (11) Statin-related myopathy is also related to taking statins and alcohol simultaneously. (12) Muscle cramps, weakness, and spasms are symptoms of myopathy. (13)

Liver Damage

The liver, both an organ and gland, removes toxins from the body, produces bile needed for digestion, and stores vitamins and minerals. (14) Alcohol related liver damage can occur with excessive or chronic alcohol use. Alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and Cirrhosis are all liver diseases associated with heavy alcohol use. Symptoms of alcoholic liver disease can include tiredness, weight loss, fever, nausea, jaundice, confusion, liver cancer, intestinal bleeding, and kidney failure. (15)

Using Lipitor exclusively can also cause liver related problems. Those with preexisting liver problems should not begin Lipitor use. Lipitor causes the highest amount of liver related injuries in the statin drug class, though the injuries may be mild. (16) Routine testing is often performed when an individual begins using Lipitor to help monitor liver functioning.

With the increased risk of worsening the liver that alcohol and Lipitor produce when taken separately, liver damage is a high concern when mixing the two. The National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism reports liver damage is likely when an individual drinks alcohol while taking Lipitor. (17) Triglyceride levels can increase when these two substances interact, increasing the chances of experiencing liver damage. (18) Symptoms of liver damage caused by combining alcohol and Lipitor may include:

(19)

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Built up fluid in the abdomen
  • Internal bleeding
  • Built up brain toxins

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Decreased Blood Circulation in the Brain

Alcohol and Lipitor use can cause issues with blood circulation. (20) This is due to blood vessels decreasing in size, making blood flow to the brain more difficult. Decreased blood circulation in the brain can be harmful and cause serious problems. Poor blood circulation in the brain can lead to cerebrovascular disease. A decrease of blood circulation, or cerebrovascular disease, can cause tingling, numbness, throbbing limbs, muscle pain, and stroke. (21)

Mixing Lipitor and alcohol use can lead to unwanted health effects, such as liver disease, circulatory issues, kidney impairments, and stroke. Stopping alcohol use if you have been prescribed Lipitor can help you avoid potentially dangerous side effects. This may be difficult if you drink alcohol on a regular basis. If you are finding it difficult to stop your alcohol use, you may be experiencing alcohol use disorder. With 414,000 adolescents, and 14.5 million individuals ages 12 years and older experiencing alcohol use disorder, accessible treatment is imperative. (22) Though many individuals would benefit from alcohol use treatment, less than 10% needing treatment receive it. (23)

Many individuals often wonder when is the right time to seek help for alcohol use disorder. Below are some signs that alcohol treatment may be beneficial for you:

  • You have been giving increasing priority to alcohol.
  • You are experiencing unwanted mental and physical effects associated with alcohol use.
  • You are engaging in risky behavior related to alcohol use.
  • You are experiencing a loss of interest in your hobbies and skills since you began drinking.
  • You have begun drinking alone or in secrecy.
  • You have become distant from friends and family since you began drinking.
  • You are finding it difficult to stop your alcohol use and have experienced unsuccessful attempts to quit.
  • You are finding that you are needing to drink more in order to experience the same effects.

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If you or a loved one are experiencing the signs above, it may be time to seek treatment. Here at Guardian Recovery, our trained professionals are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive care in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Dual diagnosis treatment is available for those experiencing any co-occurring substance use or mental health diagnoses. Reach out today to be connected with an experienced Treatment Advisor who can provide you with more information regarding our treatment options. A free, no obligation insurance benefits check and assessment can be provided upon your request.

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  1. https://www.drugs.com/lipitor.html
  2. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm#:~:text=High%20total%20cholesterol%20in%20the%20United%20States&text=Slightly%20more%20than%20half%20of,medicine%20are%20currently%20taking%20it.&text=Nearly%2094%20million%20U.S.%20adults,levels%20above%20200%20mg%2FdL
  4. https://www.britannica.com/science/ethanol
  5. https://www.heartuk.org.uk/low-cholesterol-foods/alcohol
  6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/statins/
  7. https://www.drugs.com/article/statins-benefits-and-risks.html
  8. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/020702s056lbl.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5126440/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28865873/
  11. https://www.drugs.com/article/cholesterol-medications-alcohol.html
  12. https://www.drugs.com/article/cholesterol-medications-alcohol.html
  13. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/myopathy#:~:text=The%20myopathies%20are%20neuromuscular%20disorders,such%20as%20common%20muscle%20cramps
  14. https://www.britannica.com/science/liver
  15. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/alcoholinduced-liver-disease
  16. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23247096211014050
  17. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/harmful-interactions-mixing-alcohol-with-medicines
  18. https://www.drugs.com/lipitor.html
  19. https://www.hep.org.au/liver-health/signs-and-symptoms-of-liver-damage-or-disease/
  20. https://atlasofscience.org/statin-therapy-makes-things-worse-for-alcohol-drinkers/
  21. https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Cerebrovascular-Disease
  22. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
  23. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

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.

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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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