If you fancy yourself a numbers person, the following statistics might be of some interest to you. A 2016 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 270 million Americans were taking antibiotics to resolve a medical condition. Another study, published in 2019 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), found that roughly 85% of Americans ages 18 and older say they have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime. At first glance, these two things seemingly have nothing to do with one another. But that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Despite warnings from physicians and drug manufacturers, many people combine alcohol with prescription-based medications, one of which is levofloxacin. To say this combination could spell disaster would be a gross understatement.
What Is Levofloxacin?
For those unfamiliar with levofloxacin, it is the generic for Levaquin. It also belongs to a class of drugs known as fluoroquinolone antibiotics. And because it can quickly stop bacterial growths, physicians will sometimes prescribe it to combat the following:
- Skin infections
Along with these infections, physicians will sometimes prescribe levofloxacin to individuals that have been exposed to anthrax or certain types of plague, a life-threatening disease caused by bacteria. As good as levofloxacin is at destroying bacterial infections and providing individuals with relief from symptoms brought on by those infections, there are a few potential downsides to taking it.
Levofloxacin Side Effects: What to Know Before Getting Started on This Particular Antibiotic Regimen
Levofloxacin, even when taken as prescribed, can trigger many side effects, much like Cipro, Avelox, Factive, Baxdela, and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics can. According to drugs.com, an online pharmaceutical encyclopedia that provides drug information for consumers and healthcare professionals alike, the most commonly reported side effects linked to levofloxacin include the following:
- Low blood sugar levels
- Profuse sweating
In rare cases, levofloxacin can trigger numbness, weakness, tingling, and a burning sensation in one’s hands, arms, legs, or feet. As with any drug, taking levofloxacin while consuming alcohol can worsen these side effects and may even lead to the development of some that you would have probably never had to deal with in the first place.
Levofloxacin and Alcohol: Why the Two Should Never Go Hand-In-Hand
If you’re among the 270 million Americans who enjoy a refreshing alcoholic beverage from time to time, it would be in your best interest to avoid consuming them while taking levofloxacin or its brand counterpart, Levaquin. And this is not a baseless recommendation; studies show that combining the two can have devastating health consequences. One of those studies comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that consuming alcohol while taking this particular antibiotic can significantly worsen or increase the likelihood of experiencing stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and flushing. And the risk of experiencing these side effects remains pretty high for up to three days after an individual has consumed their final dose of levofloxacin. Since we are on the topic, it is worth noting that the combination of levofloxacin and alcohol can potentially cause severe liver damage. The same NIH study revealed that consuming alcohol while taking levofloxacin forces the liver to work harder. When alcohol and levofloxacin are in someone’s system, the liver must metabolize both. Meanwhile, it still has to distribute levofloxacin throughout the body to help rid it of infection.
What Should You Do if You Have an Alcohol Problem and Have to Take Levofloxacin?
People who binge drink or have a full-on alcohol use disorder (AUD) can get sick and develop infections like everyone else. Some might argue that a drinking problem might even make them more susceptible to experiencing such health problems. Like everyone else, there invariably comes a time when they have to start taking medication. Many medications will require abstaining from alcohol, which is not something that comes easy for those with a chronic drinking problem. Available data shows that around 15 million Americans are struggling with an alcohol use disorder, and more than 66 million have a problem with binge drinking. Fortunately, many of these people have chosen to make their health a top priority, and as such, they are turning to rehab facilities across the nation to get the help they need to quit alcohol for good. That said, if you have to be on medication and have a problem with alcohol, consider this a clarion call to do the same.
How Rehab Facilities Are Helping Individuals Overcome Alcohol Addiction
If you have an alcohol problem coupled with a health problem, you will undoubtedly be in good hands at any of the more than 14,500 rehab facilities in the United States. And there are several reasons why this is the case. Firstly, the vast majority offer medication-assisted detox to help ease many of the difficult withdrawal symptoms that come about when individuals abruptly stop drinking. Some of the more notable symptoms include the following:
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritability and mood swings
- Profuse sweating
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
Rehab facilities that offer medication-assisted detox will generally provide round-the-clock monitoring by a licensed physician or nurse. And these medical professionals often prescribe FDA-approved drugs to help individuals cope with these symptoms, which can be both mentally and physically taxing. Some of these FDA-approved drugs include naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram. In addition to these medications, the physicians and nurses at these facilities will even prescribe medications that can help improve an individual’s overall health, including those that help clear up infections, such as levofloxacin. Another benefit of going to rehab to get help overcoming alcohol addiction is most offer counseling sessions with a licensed therapist. The benefits of these sessions are many insofar as they teach individuals to value themselves, which leads to them taking more pride in their appearance and making a concerted effort to look after their health. But it does not end there. These counseling sessions, which can be in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), or motivational interviewing (MI), also teach individuals how to cope with temptation and cravings that can sometimes trigger a relapse.
Final Thoughts on Combining Alcohol With Medication
When someone has a problem with alcohol, many things that would otherwise be important to them get forgotten about or put on the backburner. And taking medication as directed by their physician is but one of many. Fortunately, there is hope for those ready to regain control over every facet of their life, especially their health. In the interim, if they are on levofloxacin or any other medication, they should avoid combining them with alcohol. When they’re ready to get sober, it would be in their best interest to choose a rehab facility that offers medication-assisted detox and counseling sessions with a licensed therapist. Those that offer these two things can significantly improve an individual’s chances of achieving short and long-term sobriety.