Home / Drinking alcohol and chronic pain


  • Alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of medications and increase your risk of harmful side effects.
  • Some drugs can be deadly when combined with alcohol.
  • Alcohol combined with some medications can become toxic because both put stress on your liver (that’s where they both are processed).
  • Being honest with your doctor about how much you drink can help you find treatments that are safe with the proper dose for your body.

Pointers for Low Risk Drinking

Doctors often say that it’s safe to drink in moderation, Here’s what that means:

  • For women, moderate drinking is up to 1 alcoholic drink per day.
  • For men, it’s up to 2 drinks per day.
  • The definition of a drink is discussed below.

If you’re worried about developing Alcohol Use Disorder, here are the guidelines for safe (low-risk) drinking:

  • For women, 3 drinks or less on any single day and 7 drinks or less per week.
  • For men, 4 drinks or less on any single day and 14 drinks or less per week.

Binge drinking refers to drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels up to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after:

  • For women: 4 drinks over 2 hours.
  • For men: 5 drinks over 2 hours.

Heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.

A ‘drink’ in the US is defined as about 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol.

The amount of liquid in your glass, can, or bottle does not necessarily match up to how much alcohol is in your drink.

  • Different types of beer, wine, or malt liquor can contain different amounts of alcohol.
  • Many light beers have almost as much alcohol as regular beer – about 85% as much.  Regular beer is 5% alcohol; some light beers have 4.2% alcohol.

Certain people should avoid alcohol completely, including those who:

  • Plan to drive a vehicle or operate machinery
  • Take medications that interact with alcohol
  • Have a medical condition that alcohol can aggravate
  • Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant

For more information, click here (https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking)


Help for Those Who Want to Stop Drinking

  • There are great online resources to help you manage your drinking.
  • If you are concerned about addiction, here’s a self-help guide (www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/alcohol-addiction-treatment-and-self-help.htm)
  • Self-help groups really work. Click here how to find one near you. (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/self-help-groups-for-alcohol-addiction.htm)
  • Talk to your doctor if you decide to stop drinking so he or she can help manage withdrawal symptoms, if necessary. This is especially important if you are a heavy drinker and plan to stop suddenly.