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Anxiety

Everything You Need To Know About Propranolol and Alcohol

by Andy Boysan (BPharm)

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Beta-blockers like Propranolol can help with a range of different health conditions, including social or performance anxiety, migraines, and heart problems. But can you combine Propranolol and alcohol? 

If you have decided to use Propranolol 10 mg tablets to treat your performance anxiety, then it is important to read up on the treatment first, including whether it is possible to drink alcohol and take Propranolol at the same time.

On this page, we’ll be answering any queries you have about drinking alcohol while taking Propranolol, such as whether it is safe to do so, and whether there are any negative side effects or health risks you could experience.

To find out more about Propranolol, head over to our general Propranolol for anxiety guide, where we answer common questions about this popular medicine including its uses, the correct dosage and anything else you need to know.

 

Can you drink alcohol with Propranolol?

Mixing Propranolol and alcohol is generally not advised by doctors or medical experts. 

This is because beta-blockers like Propranolol lower your blood pressure by slowing your heart rate and reducing the force of each beat. 

Alcohol can also lower your blood pressure. As a result, the two combined can work together to make your blood pressure dangerously low, which can have all sorts of side effects (which we will go into in the sections below).

People taking Propranolol should, therefore, keep their alcohol intake low or stop completely. 

Some people do carry on drinking while using Propranolol, but it’s important to remember that this is not recommended. 

If you do decide to mix Propranolol and alcohol, then you should at least wait until you see how the medicine affects you when you first start taking it before drinking alcohol - this is normally two to three days. The same goes for if your dose increases at all. If you drink alcohol whilst taking propranolol, it should always be in moderation.

 

Propranolol tablets and alcohol: what exactly happens when you mix the two?

As we’ve mentioned above, Propranolol lowers your blood pressure. Like other beta-blockers, this happens because the medicine blocks the physical effects of norepinephrine (adrenaline), which helps to slow your heart rate down. It also helps to dilate (widen) your blood vessels so that blood can get around your body more easily.

Alcohol can also lower your blood pressure by making blood vessels larger, as well as acting as a blood thinner, preventing blood cells from sticking together.

What can happen if you combine Propranolol and alcohol is that these different responses from your body combine together to make your blood pressure drop even further.

In the section below, we’ll go into more detail about the effects of mixing alcohol and Propranolol on your body. 

 

Propranolol and alcohol side effects

It’s important to be aware of the interaction between Propranolol and alcohol, and know the possible side effects you may experience if you drink while using the popular beta-blocker. 

If you mix Propranolol and alcohol — resulting in your blood pressure dropping too much — you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Fainting, especially if you get up too fast
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea or being sick
  • Headache 
  • Inability to concentrate

This is on top of the possible side effects that you may experience while taking Propranolol; like all medicines, Propranolol can cause unwanted side effects as well as benefiting the user. 

However, these side effects are unusual — most users do not experience any adverse effects at all. You can read about how real users have found their experience by visiting our Propranolol reviews page. 

If side effects do occur, they are normally mild (especially at the low dosage used to treat situational anxiety) and will go away in time. You can find out more about possible Propranolol side effects here. 

As well as causing an adverse reaction or making existing side effects worse, alcohol can also exacerbate the condition you are treating with Propranolol. 

For example, drinking alcohol can trigger or worsen anxiety — particularly performance anxiety. A drink may make you feel calmer or more confident in social situations to start with, but these benefits are short-term. Alcohol disrupts the balance of chemicals in the brain, making you feel more anxious, as well as triggering physical symptoms of anxiety such as an increased heart rate, sweating and trembling. 

 

Mixing Propranolol and alcohol: safety concerns

It is important to be aware of possible interaction between any medicine you take and alcohol, including Propranolol tablets. You need to know how this mix will affect your body, as well as how alcohol impacts the effectiveness of Propranolol as a treatment. 

Mixing Propranolol and alcohol is not advised and can be dangerous, but is unlikely to be life-threatening in most situations. 

If you are in any of the below situations and you are worried about your health because of Propranolol and alcohol, you should seek medical attention immediately:

  • You faint and think you may have injured yourself
  • You faint and hit your head
  • You feel so dizzy that you can’t stand up
  • You develop a very fast heart rate

If you are using Propranolol for anything other than anxiety — for example, to reduce your risk of heart attack or to treat arrhythmia — then these effects and risks can be especially risky.

 

Propranolol and alcohol overdose

It is vital that you do not exceed the recommended Propranolol dosage prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist for the health condition you are treating (your dosage will depend on why you’re taking it in the first place). 

Doing so could result in an overdose of Propranolol, which could have a number of unwanted side effects. In particular, it could dangerously slow down your heart rate and make it difficult to breathe, as well as causing dizziness, light-headedness, blurred vision and fainting. It may even result in severe heart problems.

Adding alcohol to this mix is very dangerous — you should avoid any possibility of a Propranolol and alcohol overdose by sticking to your prescribed course of treatment and reducing your alcohol intake.

However, it is unlikely that you will overdose on Propranolol if you are taking it for social or performance anxiety — this dosage is very low (the tablets contain 10mg of Propranolol) compared to other uses. 

If you are worried that you are experiencing a Propranolol and alcohol overdose, then you should seek medical attention immediately; either call 999 or get someone to take you to A&E for treatment. 

 

How to use Propranolol safely

It is very easy to take Propranolol safely to treat performance or situational anxiety:

  • Propranolol can be taken either with or without food. This is because it doesn’t usually upset your stomach, unlike other medications. 
  • Take each tablet with a drink of water — or any other type of non-alcoholic drink. You may be able to break tablets in half at the score line depending on the brand of tablet if you find them hard to swallow.
  • Take a dose of 10-40mg (for situational anxiety), approximately half an hour ahead of when you want the results to kick in. You can do this three times a day. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about this dosage and do not exceed it.
  • If you do miss a dose, take the tablet as soon as possible unless it is nearly time for your next dose. If this is the case, then you should skip the first dose and continue your regular routine as normal — never double your dose to compensate for a skipped or forgotten Propranolol tablet.

If you are unsure about how to take Propranolol safely, you can either read the directions on your prescription label or the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with the tablets. You can also speak to your pharmacist for more information.

 

Summary

Propranolol is a type of prescription-only medicine called a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers are used to treat and provide symptoms relief for all sorts of different health conditions, including anxiety, heart problems and migraines.

Beta-blockers like Propranolol lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate down and reduce the force of each beat. 

Alcohol can also lower your blood pressure, so mixing Propranolol and alcohol can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly. This can result in side effects such as dizziness, nausea, light-headedness and even fainting. It can be very dangerous depending on the situation and how much Propranolol you have taken.

This is why medical professionals like doctors and pharmacists do not recommend drinking while taking Propranolol — or at least reducing your alcohol intake. 

When taken properly, there are very few side effects and safety concerns surrounding Propranolol. 

If you think you would like to try Propranolol for anxiety, you can buy Propranolol 10mg through The Independent Pharmacy. All you need to do is fill in our short online consultation form — once you do, we can assess your symptoms to make sure this is the right treatment for you and deliver to you as soon as the next day.

 

Sources

Authored By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan

BPharm

Published on: 28-09-2020

Last modified on: 28-09-2020


Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Ruari O'Connell

Ruari O'Connell

BPharm IP

Reviewed on: 28-09-2020

Next review date: 28-09-2022


Ruari has worked in all sectors of pharmacy and is one of the most experienced Pharmacist Independent Prescribers in the UK.


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