Taking an over-the-counter medication like Aleve (naproxen) is common for pain. However, just because a medication is over the counter does not mean it is free of drug interactions. Aleve and similar medications like Motrin (ibuprofen) can be dangerous to mix with alcohol. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the possible dangers of mixing alcohol and Aleve.

What Is Naproxen (Aleve)?

Aleve (naproxen) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This class of medications relieves fever, pain and inflammation. NSAIDs block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase, or COX, which plays a role in pain, fever and inflammation.

Naproxen is available over the counter under the brand name Aleve and as a generic drug. It comes in 220 mg tablets or capsules; adults are instructed to take one to two of them every 8–12 hours.

Aleve Side Effects

Like all medications, Aleve has some common side effects. These include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Indigestion
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rash

Aleve also carries warnings for rare but more serious side effects like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Stomach perforation
  • Kidney damage
  • High blood potassium levels
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Can You Drink on Aleve?

You should avoid drinking while taking naproxen. Your chances for potentially deadly complications like stomach bleeding increase if you mix alcohol and Aleve.

Risks of Mixing Alcohol With Naproxen and Other NSAIDs

Aleve is not the only NSAID you should avoid if you drink. Refraining from drinking while taking all NSAIDs, including aspirin, is important because of the increased risks of stomach damage and bleeding while taking an NSAID with alcohol. Dangers include:

  • Stomach damage like bleeding and ulcerations due to gastrointestinal injury from alcohol and NSAIDs
  • Prolonged bleeding due to NSAIDs, especially when someone is drinking at the same time
  • Increased blood alcohol levels when drinking while taking certain NSAIDs like aspirin

How Long After Taking Aleve Can I Drink?

Aleve is a long-acting NSAID. The drug’s half-life, or how long half of a single dose stays in your system, is 12–17 hours. Because it takes five half-lives to clear a drug from your system entirely, naproxen can linger in your system for almost three days. To be safe, you should avoid alcohol during this time.

That said, certain medical conditions and other medications may increase the dangers of drinking after taking Aleve. In some cases, you may need to avoid alcohol for longer, so you should consult your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice specific to your situation.

Avoiding Alcohol While Taking NSAIDs

If you struggle with avoiding alcohol while taking Aleve, this can mean a more profound struggle with drinking. The addiction treatment programs at The Recovery Village at Baptist Health can help. Our medically supervised alcohol detox program can help wean you off alcohol, while an alcohol rehab program can help you abstain from drinking over the long term. Contact us today to get started on the road to recovery.

  • Sources

    Ghlichloo, Ida; Gerriets, Valerie. “Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).” StatPearls, May 19, 2022. Accessed April 2, 2023.

    Drugs.com. “Naproxen.” October 18, 2021. Accessed April 2, 2023.

    Weathermon, Ron; Crabb, David W. “Alcohol and Medication Interactions.” Alcohol Research & Health, 1999. Accessed April 2, 2023.

    Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, June 23, 2022. Accessed April 2, 2023.

  • Medical Disclaimer

    The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.