Doxycycline and Alcohol


Antibiotics are one of the most widely prescribed medications. Chances are, if you have ever had a bacterial infection, you’ve taken a one-to-two-week course of treatment. During that time, you may have gone out to dinner with friends and had a drink or two. Maybe you mentioned the drug you were taking and panicked when they warned you that you can’t drink when you take antibiotics. Too late, the damage was done, and you lay awake all night waiting for the onset of the deadly reactions that your friends warned you about. Hopefully, it was a false alarm, and you suffered no lasting consequences.

While there are some antibiotics like Bactrim and Tinidazole that may have severe reactions when mixed with alcohol, doxycycline is not one of them. When combined with alcohol, this particular drug does not appear to cause bad reactions in most people. However, that doesn’t mean that doctors recommend washing the medicine down with a swig of alcohol. You may not throw up or experience stomach cramps, but alcohol can diminish the effectiveness of the drug. This reduced efficacy is particularly true for chronic or heavy drinkers.

What Is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a tetracycline class of antibiotics used to treat bacterial and some parasitic infections. Strep throat, pneumonia, some sexually transmitted diseases, acne, Lyme disease and malaria are among the treatable conditions. The drug prevents bacteria from creating the proteins needed for reproduction and growth.


Is There Anything in Your Medical History Your Doctor Needs to Know?

There are some things that you should tell your physician before taking doxycycline that you might not usually mention during a routine doctor’s visit. Let the doctor know if you have a history of any of the following:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Working outdoors
  • Stomach surgery or problems
  • Past reactions to food or medicine

You should also give your doctor a complete list of any prescription or over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, illegal drugs and vitamin pills that you take.

Should Pregnant Women Take Doxycycline?

Always tell your doctor if you are pregnant. Doxycycline may have an adverse effect on fetal bone development and cause permanent tooth discoloration in the baby. There might be a higher risk of a miscarriage. Do not breastfeed while taking this medication. Birth control pills may be less effective during the treatment, so you might want to switch to non-medicinal contraceptive measures, such as condoms or diaphragms.


How Do You Take Doxycycline?

Your doctor may prescribe doxycycline in a liquid, tablet, delayed-release tablet or capsule form. Shake a bottle to mix the liquid suspension before pouring, and don’t chew or crush a delayed-release tablet since that interferes with the drug’s distribution. It’s recommended that you take doxycycline on an empty stomach unless you feel nauseous. Wait an hour after dosing before lying down to avoid acid reflux causing any throat irritation.

Doxycycline efficacy is affected by acidic fluids, foods and supplements containing calcium, magnesium, iron, aluminum and other minerals. Drink water to swallow the pill and not fruit juices or coffee. Wait two hours before or after ingesting milk, yogurt, certain antacids (Tums, Maalox, Mylanta), laxatives that contain magnesium and any supplements containing minerals.

If you are taking doxycycline as an anti-malarial drug, start the treatment two days before your trip and continue for four weeks after you leave. Follow your doctor’s instructions.

What Are Some Doxycycline Side Effects?

Doxycycline is known to cause photosensitivity in some patients. Because of this, the prescribing physician or pharmacist warns the patient to avoid extended time in the sun and use sunscreen to prevent developing a rash-like skin inflammation.


Other common side effects include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Mouth, nails and eyes color changes
  • Vaginal discomfort or discharge

You should seek medical assistance if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Affected vision
  • Yellow teeth
  • Hives
  • Headache
  • Unusual bruising

Every patient is different. When you pick up the medicine at a pharmacy, there is usually a sheet included in the package that contains a list of reported adverse reactions. Read it before you start your treatment, so you’ll recognize the signs.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Doxycycline?

The liver processes all the blood that passes through the intestines and the stomach. It metabolizes drugs and alcohol into components that your body can more easily use. Drinking alcohol with the drug may slow the metabolic breakdown and absorption of the drug since it’s now having to work twice as hard.

Alcohol and Pills

There are reports in the literature that doxycycline may cause liver damage and failure. Because chronic alcohol use is also associated with liver damage, experts do not recommend this drug for individuals who are heavy drinkers. If a chronic user does need this antibiotic, they may require a higher-than-normal dose because of existing liver damage.

People start taking doxycycline because they have some type of infection, and the drug gives the autoimmune system extra ammunition to fight the germ. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is associated with a weakened immune system and a greater risk of bacterial and viral infections. When you drink alcohol, the liver has to metabolize it, and this process creates by-products that increase inflammation in your system. It should be clear that simultaneously drinking and dosing is not productive. The drug may not work as effectively as it should if the alcohol counteracts the body’s autoimmune defenses.

Drinking alcohol while taking doxycycline may not put you in the hospital, but it might result in one heck of a hangover. Since common side effects of the drug, such as headache and nausea, may already be making you feel out-of-sorts, a next-morning hangover is going to exacerbate your misery. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the hard stuff while you’re taking this medicine.

How Long Should You Wait to Drink Alcohol After Stopping Doxycycline?

While casual and moderate alcohol drinkers may have a drink or two without worrying too much about side effects, the same is not true for heavy drinkers or individuals with liver disease. As previously mentioned, the likelihood of diminished liver functions puts this group of patients in a separate category.


It takes two-to-five days for doxycycline to clear your system. So, that’s how long individuals with diminished metabolic capacities should wait before resuming drinking. Because the drug stays around for so long, it’s never a good idea for people in this category to skip a dose so that they can take a drink. You don’t want to degrade your autoimmune system while you are fighting an infection.

If your drinking is out of control and you want to stop but can’t, the caring staff at the Long Island Treatment Center can put you back on the right path. Our facility offers different levels of care ranging from early intervention to hospitalization. We customize the treatment plan for each individual. Options include detoxification, individual counseling and group therapy sessions. We also offer an evening intensive outpatient session for individuals who work during the day. Contact us today if you or someone you know struggles to control their drinking. We provide help without judgment.


  • Can I have doxycycline with coffee?
  • Can I drink tea while taking doxycycline?
  • Can you eat bananas while taking doxycycline?
  • How long after doxycycline can i go in the sun?
  • How long after doxycycline can i drink alcohol?

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Long Island Treatment Center