Prescription Drugs | 6 min read

Bactrim And Alcohol: The Side Effects of Mixing Antibiotics With Alcohol

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On August 28, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On February 26, 2022

Bactrim And Alcohol:
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Drugs are a constant threat in the US, and lives beyond counting are damaged and devastated by the effects of drug use. While most people may think of drugs like cocaine, marijuana, or even heroin when the subject of the dangers of drugs comes up, there are drug threats that are closer and more common than most other substances. One of these drugs is available for legal purchase everywhere in the nation and is often celebrated in our culture; that drug is alcohol.

Alcohol is a surprisingly powerful depressant, and it can pose a serious threat to the body on its own. In the short term, alcohol is known for creating dangerous situations where good judgment and fast reflexes are required. Since it’s technically a poison, drinking too much can result in respiratory failure or even death. Long-term effects of alcohol can include damage to nearly every system of the body, including permanent brain damage and irreversible damage to the liver, kidneys, and more.

Antibiotics fight countless infections in the body, from routine infections to sexually transmitted infections and any other harmful bacterial infection. They can be specialized or broad-spectrum, but they are only used on bacterial infections. But many people don’t know that when you are prescribed an antibiotic like Bactrim, drinking any amount of alcohol could have serious consequences.

Some of these potentially serious consequences can be abused by people who enjoy them, which results in them mixing Bactrim and alcohol for recreation. But those same effects can become medically serious, and new symptoms could emerge, creating the potential for disaster. In some cases, mixing Bactrim and alcohol can be deadly.

What Are The Side-Effects of Bactrim And Alcohol

Each substance will have its effects of usage, but when combined, there will be a third set of potential side effects that can be dangerous.

Side Effects Of Bactrim

Some of the most common side effects from Bactrim include:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Light-colored stools
  • Peeling, blistering, or otherwise loosening of the epidermis
  • Alterations in skin pigmentation or coloring
  • Tightness in the chest or distinct chest pain
  • Chills
  • Hoarse voice or persistent cough, sore throat
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Dizziness or loss of equilibrium
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting, possibly with blood
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • General achiness, including joint, muscle, and bone pain
  • General tiredness, weakness, or feelings of fatigue
  • Itching
  • Pain in the lower back or flanks
  • Bleeding or easy bruising
  • Loss of appetite and constant nausea
  • Swelling in the legs or feet, including pain or tenderness
  • Sores or ulcers on the lips or mouth
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Development of hypoglycemia, including the potential loss of consciousness

Side Effects Of Bactrim

If you or someone you know is taking Bactrim and experiences or exhibits any of the listed side effects, it could have potentially serious ramifications, and they will require immediate medical attention. Many of these side effects are indications of emergent and possibly deadly conditions if not treated immediately.

Some side effects are less serious and do not require immediate medical intervention. These minor side effects include:

  • Increased passing of gas
  • Feelings of movement or the sensation of rotating or spinning
  • Depression, or feelings of hopelessness
  • Increased skin sensitivity to sunlight or other bright light
  • Sudden severe sunburn
  • Reduced emotional response
  • Stiffness, muscle aches, and cramps
  • Nervousness
  • Redness or minor discoloration of the skin
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • General difficulty sleeping or full insomnia

Side Effects Of Alcohol

Alcohol side effects break down into short-term side effects, which occur with as little as a single drink, and long-term side effects, which are often the results of alcohol abuse. The short-term side effects include:

  • Feeling relaxed or even sleepy
  • Sense of euphoria, bliss, or general happiness
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced inhibitions and increased impulsivity
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Reduced coordination
  • Lowered ability to focus or concentrate
  • Loss of memory during blackouts

The long-term side effects and possible results of serious alcohol abuse will frequently include:

  • Persistent emotional instability with sudden and frequent mood swings
  • Frequent irritability, easily angered, sometimes becoming hostile and belligerent
  • Chronic sleep disruption and insomnia
  • A dangerously reduced immune system
  • Lowering of libido and reduction in sexual abilities
  • Chronic attention, focus, and concentration problems
  • Brain damage, specifically in the memory, speech, and movement centers
  • Elevated tensions with family members, including estrangement

Side Effects Of Mixing Bactrim And Alcohol

When mixing Bactrim and alcohol, many potential side effects would be concerning or frightening to some but are sought out and enjoyed recreationally by others. This consistent mixing of Bactrim and alcohol creates issues over long-term abuse.

The first side effect is that the alcohol will reduce and possibly even negate the effectiveness of the Bactrim to fight the infection it was originally prescribed for. This can cost you time, money, and possibly even health complications, as mixing Bactrim and alcohol allows your infection to worsen or spread. Even if you aren’t drinking on purpose, many other substances have alcohol in them, such as mouthwashes and over-the-counter cold medicines.

Other side effects frequently experienced when Bactrim and alcohol are used in conjunction with each other include nausea and vomiting. The effects of both Bactrim and alcohol on the intestinal system could mean vomiting painfully or even bringing up blood. As the body metabolizes alcohol, it creates acetaldehyde which causes nausea. With the possible gastric upset that Bactrim can cause by itself, the risk of constant nausea and painful vomiting can be a significant one.

Side Effects Of Mixing Bactrim And Alcohol

Often seen in conjunction with alcohol use is that it severely dehydrates the user. If someone is recovering from a recent bacterial infection, or trying to recover, staying well-rested and hydrated is important to the recovery. Alcohol interferes with both of those goals, not only acting as a powerful dehydrating agent but also as a potent sleep disruptor. While alcohol tends to make the user drowsy or sleepy, it also prevents restful sleep and can cause insomnia.

Mixing Bactrim and alcohol can also cause dangerous heart rate elevation and decreased blood pressure. This can result in secondary effects like flushed appearances, redness in the cheeks, or even sweating, but it can also result in an uncomfortable tingly feeling and incredible stress on the cardiovascular system. Other potential side effects of the increased heart rate and cardiovascular stress over the long term include elevated risk of heart disease, including heart attack.

Warning Signs That You May Be Addicted To Mixing Drugs Like Bactrim And Alcohol

While many people may find the side effects of mixing Bactrim and alcohol unpleasant, others may enjoy them and pursue them habitually. This can easily lead to a substance use disorder, potentially polysubstance abuse, if both Bactrim and alcohol are abused.

One of the first signs that you may be addicted to mixing Bactrim and alcohol is that you begin to crave the substance combination, or if you are taking one of the two, you will find yourself craving the other. This is indicative of the addiction-forming and may also be an early indicator of physical dependence if the cravings are accompanied by other withdrawal symptoms.

Another good indication that you may be addicted to the combination of Bactrim and alcohol is that you begin to have withdrawal symptoms when you aren’t taking them. Withdrawal symptoms result from the body suddenly dealing with the lack of a substance that it has become dependent on for normal operations. With Bactrim and alcohol, the first withdrawal symptoms could include headache, nausea, tremors, irritability, and more.

Another sign that you may be addicted to Bactrim and alcohol would be an increased effort to continually have Bactrim and alcohol on hand to prevent not having them when you have a craving. This may even include changing your circles of friends to include people who you can more easily source the substances.

Treatment Help: What To Do If You Are Addicted To Mixing Drugs Like Bactrim And Alcohol

If you or someone you know may be addicted to mixing Bactrim and alcohol, they must get professional help to safely detox and begin recovery. Reach out today to speak with a local addiction professional in a confidential environment, and begin to create a personalized recovery plan to get sober. By working with professionals familiar with addiction recovery, you can complete the challenging withdrawal stage in a comfortable, safe, and dignified NYC drug rehab.

Medical supervision for the detox and withdrawal stage is important for individuals with a significant history of alcohol abuse since the detox process may create other medical complications. By leveraging a professional, upscale treatment facility, the individual will have medical professionals standing by to help make the process as safe as possible.

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Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.

Amanda Stevens


Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. Read more

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  1. Drug Enforcement Administration. Marijuana. Accessed August 28, 2022.