Accutane and Alcohol

Estimated reading time: 30 minute(s)

Accutane is a popular drug in the field of dermatology dispensed to millions of people across the globe to fight acne. The medication usually requires long courses extending up to four to six months to induce benefits and has been associated with remarkable results in most users. However, when it comes to Accutane, there are several do’s and don’ts that one has to keep in mind, and some of these rules are strict.

On its own, Accutane can be very harsh on some people, leading to mildly uncomfortable to severe side effects. Hence, experts strongly advise against combining it with any other substance that harms the body, such as alcohol. Many people wish to know if they can keep enjoying their favorite drinks every night as they slowly finish the ongoing Accutane course., Such people must understand that alcohol and Accutane can be a very dangerous combination as it harms the body and induces toxicity along with various other risks.

What is Accutane?

Accutane is an extremely potent acne treatment drug extracted from vitamin A. Experts consider it safer than consuming larger amounts of vitamin A, which would otherwise accumulate in the tissue to a dangerously high level and trigger toxicity. Accutane is highly effective for treating different types of acne with moderate to severe intensity and is usually the last resort for people who have tried all other possible options with no success. The benefits of this drug therapy usually begin to kick in in a month and clear acne in up to five months. However, some may need to continue it for 12 months or more for a full spectrum of benefits.

Despite the high potency, Accutane has multiple side effects, especially in people who combine it with other substances like alcohol. Higher doses are much more effective at clearing acne but can trigger more intense side effects at the same time. These side effects include dry skin, nosebleeds, itching, muscle, and joint pain, irritation of the eyes, etc. Experts usually advise taking Accutane with food to minimize these side effects.

Accutane and Alcohol Interaction: Effects of Mixing the Two

Mixing Accutane and alcohol is highly discouraged due to the possible interactions and worsening of side effects. Both substances share many common side effects, and taking them together increases their severity. For example, one such side effect is dehydration. Alcohol and Accutane are both known to send the body into a state of dehydration. [1] Alcohol is a natural diuretic that forces the body to expel more water through the urine, whereas Accutane shrinks the sebaceous glands on the skin, decreasing its moisture. As a result, a person using them together may have cracked lips, dehydrated skin and tongue, and even confusion if the situation continues to worsen.

Mixing alcohol and Accutane can also cause intensified effects on the brain as both substances interact with dopamine production. Additionally, they also boost the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), slowing down the system and making the user feel tired and fatigued. Some other side effects that the duo can lead to include the following:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sluggishness
  • Cardiac arrest

It is always wise to seek advice from a medical professional before using Accutane with alcohol and confirm if using them together with minimal side effects is possible. Remember that each person can have a different response and experience to this reaction; hence, a doctor may ask for your personal history and other factors before giving you any advice or instructions.

Potential Dangers of Mixing Accutane and Alcohol

Drinking alcohol while completing a course of Accutane can put the body at risk of various risks. While these risks may not be as prevalent in the beginning, they may rapidly progress into life-threatening health conditions. Some of these risks include the following:

Reduced Reflexes

A person taking Accutane in high doses while drinking can experience sluggish responses. The combination can also induce drowsiness and sedation in many, and sometimes, these issues may become severe enough to profoundly affect the reflexes. If the person continues to mix the two substances for prolonged durations or in constantly high doses, the ongoing lethargy and drowsiness may become more serious, leading to respiratory depression, coma, and even death.

Mental Health Issues

Both Accutane and alcohol target dopamine levels in the brain, while others experience a boost in gamma-aminobutyric acid. Due to the effect of the duo on key neurotransmitters in the brain, different people may experience different types of mood issues. For instance, some of them may become depressed and irritable, while others may experience euphoria.[2] People who are unsure about whether this combination is causing any issues to their mental health must speak to their doctor at once. Do not dismiss any new issue and never assume it as a temporary side effect.

Severe Liver Problems

The liver is one of the most critical organs in the body that helps break down and expel substances from the body and keeps them from building up. Frequent alcohol intake can damage the liver as the organ is constantly under the burden of processing it. This problem is particularly prevalent in people who frequently misuse or abuse alcohol.

While many people know and acknowledge the effects of excessive alcohol use on the liver, they may not know that Accutane carries similar risks. It can also damage the liver, and considering that most of its courses are long-term that exceed over the years, the risk is particularly higher.

The extent of liver damage a person may experience depends on different factors, such as the following:

  • The dose and strength of Accutane a person is taking
  • The expected duration of their ongoing Accutane course
  • The amount and strength of alcohol they drink
  • How frequently do they use alcohol
  • Simultaneous use of other medications and substances

Pregnancy-Associated Issues

Pregnancy is one of the most delicate times for a human body as it is working for itself and caring for and nourishing another life inside it. Consuming anything that harms the body during this time can be very dangerous for both lives. Alcohol on its own has been known to exert multiple risks to a pregnant female and her developing fetus, such as fetal alcohol syndrome. Combining Accutane in such circumstances can not only multiply these risks but also add additional side effects to the picture, such as the potential of birth defects in the developing baby.[3]

High Cholesterol Levels

Drinking alcohol while taking Accutane can also mess with the levels of fat or triglycerides in the blood. This side effect is widely associated with Accutane; however, it usually is not permanent, and the situation reverses when a person stops taking the medication. Since alcohol also exerts a similar effect on blood fat levels, combining the two can put the body at an increased risk of pancreatitis. For this reason, it is imperative to ask your doctor if drinking alcohol while taking Accutane is safe enough, considering your past history of any existing health issues and substance abuse.

Weakened Immune System

Accutane is not only an anti-inflammatory agent but also possesses immunosuppressant effects. It suppresses the inflammatory response in the body, which, in turn, reduces the potency of the immune system. Alcohol also carries the potential to weaken the immune system, so combining the two can put the body at a higher risk of encountering yeast and bacterial infections.


Can you drink on Accutane?

Alcohol alone has been linked to several mental and physical health issues. Combining it with Accutane, an acne relief medication with multiple side effects, is not advised to prevent unnecessary risks. For people who cannot avoid alcohol while taking Accutane, experts recommend drinking lots of water to maintain hydration, as both agents can force water out of the body.

How can I monitor my health while taking Accutane and alcohol?

For people who choose to drink alcohol while using Accutane, it is imperative to do whatever possible to keep risks away as much as possible. For starters, they must let their doctor know that they are combining alcohol with Accutane so that they can arrange regular blood tests to check the function of the liver. Drinking plenty of water before and after a drinking session and even during it is also advisable. Keep a close eye on any unusual issues or symptoms and report them to the doctor if they become uncomfortable or disrupt the quality of life.

How long after Accutane can you drink alcohol?

According to expert advice, it is best to completely avoid alcohol for at least 5 to 7 days following the last dose of Accutane. This break will give the body enough time to completely clear the drug from the system and stop the liver from overworking. Remember that people who are on a low dose may not need to wait as many days to drink after finishing a course of Accutane.

Are there any lingering side effects that I may be exposed to even after stopping Accutane?

Most of the side effects associated with Accutane start easing as soon as someone stops taking the medication. However, these issues may sometimes persist until the body completely gets the drug out. These issues may include problems with vision or hearing, reduced white cell count, and a risk of birth defects in children if you become pregnant while having the drug in the system.

How much can you drink on Accutane?

Because of many possible side effects occurring with Accutane and alcohol, the best advice is to completely refrain from combining the two. However, if this is not possible, it is best to seek advice from a healthcare professional to understand the best way to combine both with minimal side effects. Remember that each person responds differently to different substances, and there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to understanding how much a person can drink while taking a medication. Moreover, a doctor may also consider the dose of Accutane you are taking while determining the risk of treatment. Those who are on a low dose are at a lesser risk than those on a more potent dose. Similarly, the longevity of the treatment, along with the strength of the alcohol being consumed, are other factors to consider.

Why can’t you drink on Accutane?

While there are many reasons to avoid drinking alcohol while taking Accutane, one of the most significant risks that the combination brings to overall health is the high possibility of liver damage. If a person continues to engage in 14 units of alcohol while taking Accutane for four to six months, their liver is at a high risk of damage. However, having an occasional drink every other week may not cause such serious harm. Remember that the only piece of advice that guarantees that you will not experience liver damage is complete abstinence from alcohol.


1 Polhuis KCMM, Wijnen AHC, Sierksma A, Calame W, Tieland M. The Diuretic Action of Weak and Strong Alcoholic Beverages in Elderly Men: A Randomized Diet-Controlled Crossover Trial. Nutrients. 2017 Jun 28;9(7):660. doi: 10.3390/nu9070660. PMID: 28657601; PMCID: PMC5537780.

2 Suuberg A. Psychiatric and Developmental Effects of Isotretinoin (Retinoid) Treatment for Acne Vulgaris. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2019 Feb 10;90:27-31. doi: 10.1016/j.curtheres.2019.01.008. PMID: 30828405; PMCID: PMC6383167.

3 Mother To Baby | Fact Sheets [Internet]. Brentwood (TN): Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS); 1994-. Isotretinoin (Accutane®) 2021 Oct. Available from:

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