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Mixing Lipitor and Alcohol: Are You Endangering Your Health?

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Lipitor is a statin medication prescribed to reduce the amount of “bad cholesterol” in the blood and increase the amount of “good cholesterol.” The statin helps blood flow properly to the heart, brain, and rest of the body by preventing fatty substances, like cholesterol, from building up in the blood. Doing so reduces the chances of developing heart disease and heart-related events, such as a stroke or heart attack.1

If you drink two or more alcoholic beverages every day or multiple days a week, your doctor may want to prescribe a different cholesterol medication to avoid the side effects of mixing Lipitor and alcohol.1

In this article:

Why Do Alcohol and Lipitor Interact?

Lipitor passes through the digestive system before entering your bloodstream. Its bioavailability or absorption rate is around 14%, which means that 14% of the drug is able to reach circulation and produce effects. Once it enters circulation and reaches the liver, it goes to work inhibiting the production of cholesterol and getting rid of cholesterol already in the bloodstream.2

Lipitor and alcohol travel similar paths through the body.3 Alcohol that is consumed orally travels through the digestive system and bloodstream. The liver processes and distributes alcohol to different body parts through the bloodstream, where Lipitor also travels.

Interactions may occur when Lipitor and alcohol cross pathways. Several things can happen, including:2,4

  • Alcohol may reduce the positive effects of Lipitor even more than the digestive system. Reduced effects mean your good and bad cholesterol levels are out of balance despite taking medication, putting you at risk for heart attack or stroke.
  • Alcohol may change the effects of the ingredients in statins. A safe ingredient may now be unsafe when combined with alcohol.
  • Mood changes occur in some people taking Lipitor, particularly men, who report increased depression, irritability, agitation, and aggressiveness. Some report sleep disturbances and increased oxidative stress after one month of Lipitor use. Alcohol also influences mood changes in those who consume it. Symptoms of irritability, agitation, sadness, and anxiety may increase when taking two substances with similar effects.

Side Effects of Alcohol and Lipitor

Like with all medications, Lipitor presents side effects in conjunction with alcohol and other substances. Lipitor side effects include:5

  • Nausea
  • Aggression
  • Pain in the stomach or abdomen
  • Body temperature changes
  • Muscle weakness and cramping
  • Joint swelling and pain
  • Headaches
  • Rhabdomyolysis, the release of proteins and electrolytes into the blood
  • Myopathy
  • Liver damage

Alcohol produces many side effects that range from mild to severe, including:6

  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Delayed reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Agitation
  • Digestive problems
  • Injuries
  • Toxicity or poisoning
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Dependence
  • Overdose

Both Lipitor and Alcohol have side effects when used on their own, but combining them can make these side effects more severe.

Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Lipitor

Lipitor raises blood glucose levels and liver enzymes and can lead to diabetes in some people. If someone with diabetes consumes alcohol, which is extremely high in sugar content, they could be at risk of hyperglycemia, or dangerously high blood sugar. If blood glucose rises too high, you could face adverse reactions, such as coma or overdose. Alcohol disrupts insulin functioning, a process that supports the correct functioning of the central nervous system. For some people, mixing Lipitor and alcohol can lead to whole-body insulin resistance.7

Hepatic effects are injuries to the liver caused by exposure to certain drugs, including statins such as Lipitor. Alcohol can also cause damage to the liver.7 Combining Lipitor and alcohol could exacerbate liver damage and hinder drug metabolism. You will experience higher blood alcohol concentration and impairments, such as incoordination. Also, both substances can elevate liver enzymes; when the two substances are used together, enzyme levels may remain too high, leading to long-term diseases like fatty liver disease.8

Sometimes, Lipitor is the source of urinary tract infections, and alcohol use is known to cause frequent urination. These combined side effects could become painful. Other harmful effects of mixing Lipitor and alcohol include:2

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Pain in joints and other body parts
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Acid reflux

If use of alcohol and Lipitor continues, adverse reactions may include stroke, heart attack, and liver failure.2

Not everyone takes their statin according to instructions, and some do not take it at all.9 This is considered misusing prescriptions and can make mixing Lipitor and alcohol more dangerous than if using Lipitor as prescribed.

Consequences of Chronic Lipitor and Alcohol Use

Dangerous side effects of Lipitor and alcohol use include poisoning and overdose. The longer you take a substance, the more you risk developing a dependence and substance use disorder (SUD).

Overdose and Toxicity Risk

Lipitor labels warn that some people taking this medication may experience central nervous system toxicity.10 Misusing alcohol has a sedating effect on the central nervous system, including parts of the brain responsible for how your body functions.

Mixing alcohol and Lipitor can cause liver enzyme abnormalities and lead to harmful outcomes. Lipitor manufacturers claim you cannot overdose on the statin. Signs of toxicity specific to Lipitor include:10

  • Allergic reactions or anaphylaxis
  • Swelling under the skin, or angioneurotic edema
  • Blisters or bullous rashes
  • Numbness and tingling sensations, or peripheral neuropathy
  • Rhabdomyolysis

Signs of toxicity specific to alcohol include:11

  • Excessive vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow or stopped breathing
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Seizures

If you think you are experiencing an overdose or interaction from mixing Lipitor and alcohol, call 911 immediately. You can also contact the Poison Control Center for guidance. Receiving medical attention as soon as possible is the best solution.

Dependence and Addiction

Lipitor doesn’t present the challenge of the body becoming dependent on it to function, and no research studies prove Lipitor is an addictive substance. Alcohol misuse, however, can lead to both dependence and alcohol use disorder (AUD).12

For those with AUD, trying to quit drinking alcohol or going without it for a significant period can cause withdrawal symptoms because their body has gotten so used to the substance that it relies on it to function. If the body doesn’t have alcohol, it reacts negatively. Alcohol withdrawal is dangerous and should not be experienced alone due to the potential for seizures and delirium tremens, which can be fatal. AUD can also lead to intense cravings, the inability to stop drinking, the inability to control the amount of alcohol you consume, and negative emotions when you go without alcohol. For some, the symptoms are so severe they must return to drinking alcohol for relief.12

Who is at Risk for Mixing Alcohol and Lipitor?

Mixing Lipitor and alcohol is often a mistake or misunderstanding when the consumer doesn’t understand the risks associated with the combination. Those who mix these substances even after knowing the risks are likely someone struggling with compulsive alcohol use or addiction. As such, factors that can contribute to the risk of combining the two substances are those that contribute to the risk of AUD, including:13

What To Do if You Mix Alcohol and Lipitor

If you are consuming alcohol and Lipitor regularly, talk to your doctor. There may be options that allow you to consume a specific amount of alcohol at a particular time of day, so it does not interfere with the beneficial effects of Lipitor. Below are suggestions from the National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention:15

  • Get help from someone you trust
  • Keep a daily medication schedule
  • Attend online or in-person educational courses on managing medications
  • Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about medication management programs
  • Read the FDA medication guides

Intentional mixing of alcohol and Lipitor is extremely rare and not supported by research. However, if you are intentionally mixing any substances with the plan of harming yourself, contact the Suicide Hotline or 911.

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Harm Reduction for Management of Alcohol and Lipitor

If you are not ready to quit mixing Lipitor and alcohol completely, there is another option called harm reduction to manage alcohol and cholesterol medicine. Harm reduction is a strategy to reduce the adverse side effects of alcohol and Lipitor misuse so you can achieve better health. In this case, your cholesterol levels can normalize and prevent heart-related events. The principles of harm reduction include the following:16

  • Humanism: Healthcare providers understand you are human, and there are personal reasons for why you mix alcohol and Lipitor. They don’t push their beliefs on you. Instead, they meet you where you are at the time.
  • Pragmatism: Healthcare providers think realistically and know that changes will not happen overnight. They are there to encourage a reduction in alcohol and Lipitor use so your physical health improves.
  • Individualism: Healthcare providers know there is not a one-size-fits-all treatment program. They tailor your treatment plan based on your needs.
  • Autonomy: Healthcare providers assist you in taking control over your health and allow you to choose the strategies to implement.
  • Incrementalism: Healthcare providers do not expect you to do everything at once. They encourage taking small steps to reach your goal.
  • Accountability: Healthcare providers provide accountability without the fear of being terminated or punished.

Find a Treatment Program

If you are ready to stop mixing Lipitor and alcohol, reduce the side effects of Lipitor and alcohol, or want more information on Lipitor and alcohol precautions, talk to a licensed professional working in the field of alcohol use disorders. Depending on your readiness for change, they can recommend the right treatment program.

Treatment programs can range from weekly outpatient visits to intensive inpatient rehab. If you want to stop misusing alcohol and Lipitor but are afraid of the withdrawal process, inpatient detox programs exist to provide medication assistance to ease distressing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

To speak with a treatment support specialist, call us at 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers . We are here 24/7 to help you make that connection.


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  2. McIver LA, Siddique MS. (2021). StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL). StatPearls Publishing.
  3. Cederbaum A. I. (2012). Alcohol Metabolism. Clinics in Liver Disease, 16(4), 667-685.
  4. Cham, S., Koslik, H. J., & Golomb, B. A. (2016). Mood, Personality, and Behavior Changes During Treatment with Statins: A Case Series. Drug Safety – Case Reports, 3(1), 1.
  5. Koslik, H. J., Meskimen, A. H., & Golomb, B. A. (2017). Physicians’ Experiences as Patients with Statin Side Effects: A Case Series. Drug Safety – Case Reports, 4(1), 3.
  6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Alcohol Use and Your Health.
  7. Steiner, J. L., Crowell, K. T., & Lang, C. H. (2015). Impact of Alcohol on Glycemic Control and Insulin Action. Biomolecules, 5(4), 2223-2246.
  8. Jose J. (2016). Statins and Its Hepatic Effects: Newer Data, Implications, and Changing Recommendations. Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences, 8(1), 23-28.
  9. Weintraub W. S. (2017). Perspective on Trends in Statin Use. JAMA Cardiology, 2(1), 11-12.
  10. Parke-Davis Division of Pfizer. (2019). Lipitor.
  11. LaHood AJ, Kok SJ. (2021). Ethanol Toxicity. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL). StatPearls Publishing.
  12. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021). Alcohol Use Disorder. MedlinePlus.
  13. Whitesell, M., Bachand, A., Peel, J., & Brown, M. (2013). Familial, Social, and Individual Factors Contributing to Risk for Adolescent Substance Use. Journal of Addiction, 2013, 579310.
  14. Rodziewicz TL, Houseman B, Hipskind JE. (2021). Medical Error Reduction and Prevention. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL). StatPearls Publishing.
  15. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Section 3: Prevention Approaches. National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  16. Hawk, M., Coulter, R., Egan, J. E., Fisk, S., Reuel Friedman, M., Tula, M., & Kinsky, S. (2017). Harm Reduction Principles for Healthcare Settings. Harm Reduction Journal, 14(1), 70.
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