Healthy Living

Lupus and Alcohol: What's the Risk?

Here are some tips and guidelines recommended by the Medical Advisory Council

The Medical-Scientific Advisory Council has published some guidelines that may give you a standard to follow:

  • Don’t mix alcohol and meds. Taking alcohol and pain medications at the same time can be fatal. If you are taking drugs to manage your lupus pain, before you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor and get the skinny about reactions that could result.
  • Methotrexate, leflunomide, mycophenolate mofetil, or any other drugs that are metabolized in the liver will definitely cause a problem if you drink alcohol. Avoid alcohol at all costs if you are on these meds. Drinking alcohol puts you at risk of cirrhosis or liver scarring and failure, and cirrhosis is irreversible.
  • Anticoagulants like Warfarin or Coumadin will not be useful if you drink alcohol. If you are on warfarin for blood clots, note that drinking alcohol negates that usefulness.
  • Prednisone and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib definitely increases the risk of GI bleeding, and alcohol also increases GI bleeding. If you add these together, you will have double the risk of GI bleeding.
  • Learn when it is best to say, “No, thank you.” Lupus is a disease that affects young women and women of child bearing age more often than in other stages of life. You may need to learn that it does your body no good to go out with friends and drink. Friends often pressure you to drink alcohol, and this could be fatal. Just blame it on your doctor if you are uncomfortable talking about your lupus condition.
  • Find options. If you are uncomfortable going out with friends and drinking, come up with a different activity. Eliza F. Chakravarty MD, MS suggests: let your friends know you would like to go out but offer and lunch or coffee catch up. Have them come over to your house and hang out. Inviting them to your home will keep you socially engaged, and you are not faced with telling your friends why you shouldn’t drink with them.
  • Make mine a mocktail! You don’t have to drink to be social. You can enjoy a non-alcoholic mocktail in an extravagant glass. Be cheerful, funny and the life of the party. There are great mocktail recipes online, and most bars have their own versions of non-alcoholic drinks.