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  • Steroids are synthetic versions of hormones that occur naturally in the body. They are prescribed for a number of different reasons. 

    While they can treat a variety of disorders, steroids also come with side effects that can be exacerbated when mixed with alcohol. For this reason, alcohol use is not recommended while taking steroids.

    Effects Of Steroids

    Steroids are prescribed to treat hormonal changes like delayed puberty but they can also be used to help with muscle loss from cancer or AIDS. There are two types of steroids: corticosteroids and anabolic steroids


    Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation. They are meant to mimic the hormone cortisol made in adrenal glands and stop the immune system from making substances that lead to inflammation. 

    Prednisone is one corticosteroid and is used to treat lupus, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. It suppresses the immune system to treat certain autoimmune diseases and is also used as an anti-inflammatory that helps with allergic reactions. 

    Side effects of Prednisone may include:

    • confusion
    • depression
    • gastrointestinal problems
    • insomnia
    • muscle weakness
    • weight gain
    • trouble breathing
    • shaking hands
    • vision problems

    Anabolic Steroids

    Anabolic steroids are the man-made versions of testosterone. They help build up larger muscles. Anyone whose body doesn’t produce enough testosterone may be prescribed this steroid. 

    Men who have low testosterone or anyone with low muscle mass due to cancer or AIDS are likely prescribed anabolic steroids.

    Side effects of anabolic steroids may include:

    • reduced sperm count
    • infertility
    • severe acne
    • growth of body hair
    • heart attack
    • high blood pressure
    • blood clots
    • fluid retention
    • aggressive behavior
    • mood swings
    • paranoia
    • high cholesterol

    Effects Of Mixing Steroids & Alcoholeffects-of-alcohol-and-steroids

    People may unintentionally mix alcohol and steroids. They might have a drink with friends while on steroids and not even think about it. But this combination needs to be considered as the side effects can be serious, which may include: 

    • acne
    • mood swings
    • irritability
    • slurred speech
    • impaired coordination
    • memory loss
    • uncontrollable eye movements
    • impaired judgment
    • weight gain
    • brittle bones
    • high blood pressure
    • irregular heartbeat
    • heart attack
    • stroke
    • depression
    • increased appetite
    • ulcers

    Health Risks Of Mixing Steroids & Alcohol

    Mixing alcohol and steroids can also increase the risks of physical and mental health problems:


    Mixing steroids and alcohol can increase the risk of depression. Both substances are linked to depression. If a person already has depression while using one substance, the depression can become worse with the addition of the other substance.

    Illness Complications 

    Many of the illnesses that prednisone treats are made worse by alcohol abuse. In some cases, this is because alcohol interacts with the medication adversely. 

    Sometimes, in a person with a serious illness, even moderate alcohol consumption can lead to health complications.


    Chronic steroid use has also been linked to an increase in blood sugar levels and an increased risk of steroid-induced diabetes. Alcohol can also cause unstable blood sugar levels. If you already have diabetes, alcohol and steroid abuse could lead to further complications.

    Gastrointestinal (GI) Problems

    Prednisone and alcohol increase the risk of GI bleeding. Additionally, they both can cause upset stomach and indigestion. This irritation to the GI tract can lead to peptic ulcers causing severe pain in the abdomen.


    Prednisone can increase the risk of osteoporosis and alcohol abuse can drastically impact the health of bones. Together, they can substantially affect your bone health and lead to bones breaking more easily.

    Weakened Immune System

    Both alcohol and steroids suppress the immune system, causing it to not perform at its best. Sometimes immune suppression is the reason for steroid use, but with alcohol thrown in, the immune system can be so impaired it makes you more vulnerable to serious illnesses. 

    Liver Damage

    Using steroids over a long period of time can adversely affect the function of the liver. It’s also well-known that heavy alcohol use can damage the liver too. Mixing alcohol and steroids together can overwork the liver and lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.


    Drinking alcohol while abusing steroids can cause you to overdose on the steroids and vice versa. When your judgment is impaired by either substance, you may take more than you should and it can become life-threatening.

    Treating Alcohol Addiction

    If you’re abusing alcohol while taking steroids, addiction treatment and medical supervision during detox may be necessary. 

    A detox program can help you get through the worst of alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment. 

    For information on our substance abuse treatment programs for yourself or a loved one, please contact our helpline today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Health Service (NHS) - Anabolic steroid misuse
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Anabolic Steroids Drug Facts
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Prednisone

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 27, 2022
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