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Can You Drink Alcohol with Parkinson’s Disease Medication?

What’s the relationship between Parkinson’s disease medication and alcohol? Will drinking cause side-effects or interact with your meds? Find out here.

Is taking Parkinson's disease medication and alcohol always a bad idea? Enjoying a glass of wine or beer is a common lifestyle choice, and it's one that many people enjoy in moderation without any problems. However, heavy alcohol use can be incredibly detrimental to health, and it can worsen symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as sleep disorders and depression. What's more, Parkinson's disease medication and alcohol don't always mix.

Parkinson’s Disease Medication and Alcohol

Little is known about the effects of alcohol on Parkinson's disease itself. However, most doctors will tell you to avoid alcohol if you're taking medications for PD. Here, we'll look at some of the most common Parkinson's disease medications and their interactions with alcohol.

Levodopa

Many Parkinson’s disease medications contain levodopa, also known as L-dopa. Levodopa is essentially a chemical building block that your body converts into dopamine to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Alcohol can increase the nervous system effects of levodopa such as drowsiness, dizziness and thinking impairment. Therefore, most guidelines state that you should avoid or limit alcohol consumption when taking this drug.

Dopamine agonists

Dopamine agonists are often used to treat Parkinson’s disease in place of levodopa. They can cause significant side-effects such as hallucinations, euphoria, psychosis and compulsive behavior. However, they do have the advantage of causing fewer long-term motor symptoms than other PD medications. Dopamine agonists are administered in small doses at first to check how you respond. Therefore a glass of wine is unlikely to affect you much. However, you should always consult your doctor before drinking alcohol with this medication.

Amantadine

Amantadine is the generic form of the branded drug, Symmetrel, which is used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease such as shaking and muscle stiffness. It can also be used to treat and prevent respiratory infections like influenza. According to Everyday Health, you should not drink alcohol while taking this medicine. This is because mixing amantadine with alcohol may cause circulation problems, dizziness, fainting and confusion.

MAO-B inhibitors

MAO-B inhibitors are used to treat the breakdown of dopamine in the brain, which helps relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's. Common side effects include nausea and involuntary movements. MAO-B inhibitors can interact with other drugs (such as antidepressants) and raise blood pressure to a dangerous level. Because alcohol can also increase blood pressure, you are not advised to drink with this medication. 

Parkinson’s Medication and Alcohol: The Final Word

Whether or not you should drink alcohol while being treated for Parkinson's disease will depend on the medication you're taking. It is worth discussing this issue with your doctor, especially if you have concerns about alcohol dependence or addiction.

General health guidelines state that you should avoid drinking alcohol with any medication that makes you drowsy, sleepy or impairs your concentration. That said, many people with Parkinson’s disease find that the occasional glass of wine is not harmful, as long as their doctor has agreed that they can drink in moderation.

You should always speak to your doctor before you mix Parkinson's disease medication and alcohol for the first time. You should never drive or operate heavy machinery when you have been drinking alcohol, and you should make sure you are in safe surroundings to minimize the risk of falls or injury.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2020, February 10). Can You Drink Alcohol with Parkinson’s Disease Medication?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parkinsons-disease/treatment/can-you-drink-alcohol-with-parkinsons-disease-medication

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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