Can You Drink Alcohol While On Metformin? – Only If You Want To Get Sick

a picture of prescription drugs and alcohol

Metformin (Glucophage) is prescribed for treating type 2 diabetes in overweight people and, more recently, to reduce symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. In some cases, Metformin may be used to prevent or delay development of full-blown diabetes in people with pre-diabetes.

By decreasing production of liver glucose and improving sensitivity to insulin, Metformin reduces high blood sugar and health complications resulting from type 2 diabetes. It also enhances effectiveness of the body’s utilization of existing glucose to support minimization of intestinal absorption of blood glucose.


glass of alcohol and bottle of pillsInstead of being metabolized in the stomach, alcohol directly enters the bloodstream where it quickly travels to the liver to be assimilated by the body. When someone drinks alcohol faster than it takes for the liver to metabolize alcohol, any excess alcohol saturates body tissues, especially the brain.

  • Because the liver is frantically trying to metabolize alcohol, it cannot regulate blood glucose like it normally does.

Processing a bottleneck of alcohol means the liver has no choice but to release less glucose and dysregulate blood sugar levels. In addition, many alcoholic drinks contain a lot of sugar that may contribute to health conditions promoting type 2 diabetes, such as obesity and having prediabetes.

  • Some carbonated alcoholic drinks also increase blood glucose more quickly than non-carbonated alcoholic drinks. In fact, mixing carbonated drinks with Metformin could cause medical issues requiring immediate medical treatment.
  • Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption by people taking Metformin may counteract this benefit.


We Do Not Suggest Drinking ANY Alcohol While Taking Metformin

Adverse Effects

Drinking any alcohol while taking Metformin may cause serious side-effects, including:


Extremely low blood glucose levels can make a person drowsy, confused and dizzy. If not reversed, hypoglycemia may cause convulsions, seizures, unconsciousness and coma.

Accumulation of lactic acid in the bloodstream may happen when you combine alcohol and Metformin. Lactic acid is normally produced during rigorous exercise, when energy demands are highest.

Broken down for energy, glucose is then oxidized to make pyruvate, which the body needs to sustain physical demands. However, when pyruvate is produced faster than it can be processed by the body, lactic acid levels increase. This is what happens when someone drinks alcohol while taking Metformin.

  • Lactic acidosis symptoms appear suddenly and require immediate medical assistance.

They include diarrhea, stomach pain/cramping, rapid breathing, severe muscle pain, weakness and drowsiness. Left untreated, lactic acidosis can damage the kidneys, lungs, heart and major blood vessels.

Lactic Acidosis

Previous research seemed to indicate this drug might increase the risk for lactic acidosis in people with type 2 diabetes. However, a growing body of evidence indicates it alone will not induce lactic acidosis. If however, This drug is accompanied by contributing factors, such as alcohol consumption or pre-existing conditions involving kidney or heart failure. In fact, Metformin appears to offer protective properties regarding cardiovascular health.