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Many people are unaware of the dangers that come with mixing alcohol and other drugs, or if they are aware, they choose to ignore it. Especially if they have a drinking problem and have yet to get help at a substance abuse treatment center, they may not be able to stop even if they want to. One study found that concurrent use of alcohol and medications in older adults varied from 21 to 35%.1 These interactions may be from a variety of different drugs, but all may be dangerous. One risky drug interaction is diuretics and alcohol.

What Are Diuretics?

Diuretics, also known as water pills, are drugs that promote diuresis, or the production of urine to rid the body of salt and water. Diuretics are most commonly used to treat high blood pressure by decreasing the amount of fluid in your veins. They are also sometimes used to help with heart failure, liver failure, and edema. The three types of diuretics are thiazide, loop, and potassium-sparing. They all have slightly different functions, but all of them lead to increased urine production.

Taking Diuretics & Drinking Alcohol Together

Like any drug, diuretics come with their side effects. Some people may not have any problems, but others may experience more severe issues. The exact side effects will depend on a variety of factors, including the individual taking them, but for those mixing diuretic pills and alcohol, the risks are much greater.

Mixing diuretics and alcohol could lead to side effects such as:

  • No change in blood pressure
  • Frequent urination
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration

Diuretics are most commonly used to lower high blood pressure, but alcohol can increase blood pressure. Together, these two effects may cancel each other out, and the diuretics may be ineffective. Mixing water pills and alcohol may also lead to a greater-than-usual need to urinate, as well as some dizziness.

Both may seem mostly harmless, but they could be precursors to a more serious problem. The biggest issue with mixing diuretics and alcohol is the possibility of dehydration. Alcohol and diuresis are heavily associated, as alcohol itself is also a diuretic that leads to increased urination. When it is mixed with diuretic pills, your body may be expelling too much water from its system. Drinking more fluids alone may not be enough to combat this dehydration either. If ignored, dehydration could lead to shock, fainting, and confusion that requires medical attention.

How Does Alcohol Act as a Diuretic?

Alcohol acts as a diuretic by influencing the function of the kidneys, leading to increased urine production. Alcohol consumption tampers with the hormones that normally regulate fluid balance.

Vasopressin, sometimes referred to as antidiuretic hormone or ADH, is an antidiuretic hormone that is inhibited by alcohol. Vasopressin is essential for controlling the kidneys’ ability to reabsorb water. Urine excretes more water when alcohol suppresses vasopressin, making the kidneys less efficient at reabsorbing water.

Because of this, drinking alcohol may cause your urine production to increase, which can result in dehydration. Headaches, lightheadedness, and thirst are among the symptoms that can be attributed to dehydration. Dehydration and excessive and prolonged alcohol use can have several detrimental health effects on the kidneys and general well-being.

No matter what medications you are taking, mixing it with alcohol could be problematic. Always talk to your doctor about potential drug interactions and get help if necessary. Our alcohol rehab in Pennsylvania could help you stop drinking so that you can start taking medications safely and work toward improving your health.

If you or a loved one has an addiction and is finally ready to get help, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers at 570-536-9621 or contact us online to learn more about our addiction treatment in Pennsylvania.


  1. NCBI – Concurrent use of alcohol interactive medications and alcohol in older adults: a systematic review of prevalence and associated adverse outcomes
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