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Medically Reviewed

The Dangers of Mixing Meloxicam and Alcohol

- 6 sections

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Many individuals are familiar with and frequently use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for everyday ailments like pain and fevers. For example, most people have taken ibuprofen to relieve a headache or lower a fever. However, individuals often neglect to consider the risk of mixing NSAID medications with other substances like alcohol.

Meloxicam is a form of NSAID medication typically prescribed for the treatment of arthritis. Because it is an arthritis medication, many people take this drug daily and are not aware of the risks of mixing this medication with alcohol.

Individuals prescribed meloxicam should always follow their doctor’s instructions and refrain from using the drug in excess as well as mixing the medication with alcohol. This is because mixing meloxicam and alcohol may cause detrimental effects on an individual’s health.

What is Meloxicam?

Mentioned, meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, otherwise known as a NSAID. This medication is usually prescribed to treat the effects of arthritis. Meloxicam helps treat conditions like arthritis by blocking certain enzymes, causing lower levels of inflammation overall.

Like any medication, meloxicam may produce side effects such as:[1]

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Sore throat

The severe side effects of meloxicam are not common. If an individual experiences the following side effects, they should consult with their doctor immediately:[1]

  • Fever
  • Blisters
  • Rash, hives, or itching
  • Swelling of the throat, eyes, face, tongue, or lips
  • Swelling in the abdomen, ankles, feet, or legs
  • Labored breathing or difficulty swallowing
  • Pale skin
  • Hoarseness
  • Nausea
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Stomach pain in the upper right area
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Cloudy, discolored, bloody, urine or pain while urinating
  • Back pain

While many NSAIDs are found over-the-counter, meloxicam is a prescription-only medication. This is because even small doses of the drug are stronger than prescription-strength ibuprofen. Since meloxicam is not a narcotic, this medication is a safer alternative to opioid painkillers.

While meloxicam is generally safe to take, this medication becomes dangerous when it is mixed with alcohol.

Who is Prescribed Meloxicam?

Meloxicam is a medication that is effective in treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals suffering from these conditions deal with pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. While opioid medications are highly effective in treating pain, they only mask the symptoms rather than treating them and can cause physical dependence even when taken as prescribed. Meloxicam works to reduce swelling and inflammation, leading to a lessening in symptoms of pain or tenderness. It does so without causing a person to get addicted.

While meloxicam is a safe alternative to other forms of prescription pain relief, some individuals should not take this medication. For example, individuals suffering from severe kidney disease, heart disease, or an allergy to NSAIDs should not take this medication.

Additionally, individuals who frequently drink alcohol should not use meloxicam until they stop drinking.

Why is Mixing Meloxicam and Alcohol Dangerous?

Since meloxicam is an anti-inflammatory medication that is non-narcotic, many individuals may see no issues with drinking a few glasses of wine with their daily dose. However, mixing meloxicam and alcohol can lead to an array of negative health concerns. Combining the two substances may cause life-threatening gastrointestinal issues as well as heart complications such as heart attacks or strokes.

Many people are aware of the need to eat food before taking a NSAID medication. This is because eating allows food to line the stomach and reduce adverse gastrointestinal (GI) effects. Considering this, it’s obvious that meloxicam poses a risk of causing GI issues. However, doctors consider this when prescribing the medication and give patients safe doses based on their medical history and overall health.

When individuals go against their doctor’s orders and drink alcohol while taking meloxicam, they put themselves at high risk of experiencing GI issues like upper gastrointestinal bleeding. This is because the combination of alcohol and meloxicam causes extra stress on an individual’s stomach lining, leading to stomach ulcers and gastritis – which lead to upper GI bleeding.[2]

Risks for Seniors Mixing Meloxicam and Alcohol

Because meloxicam is prescribed for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, many individuals who take the medication are older adults. Seniors who mix meloxicam and alcohol are at an increased risk of experiencing life-threatening side effects. This is because older individuals have a harder time metabolizing alcohol, making the interactions of alcohol and meloxicam amplified.

Seniors who mix meloxicam and alcohol are at an increased risk of:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Liver damage
  • Breathing issues
  • Heart attack, stroke, or heart failure

Meloxicam and Alcohol Overdose

When a person uses too much meloxicam or mixes the medication with alcohol, they are at risk of experiencing an overdose. Meloxicam is prescribed by weight, meaning if an individual loses a significant amount of weight and continues taking the same amount of meloxicam, they could experience an overdose. Additionally, the combination of alcohol and meloxicam may cause life-threatening effects that lead to an overdose.

The symptoms of meloxicam overdose include:

  • Pain in the chest or throat
  • Severe decrease in energy
  • Blue coloration in the skin, lips, or fingernails
  • Trouble breathing or rapid heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If left untreated, a meloxicam overdose may become fatal. As a result, it is extremely important to contact emergency medical services at the first signs of an overdose.

Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Today

If you or a loved one are prescribed meloxicam and suffer from alcohol addiction, it is time to seek professional help. Mixing the two substances can lead to adverse health effects that may be life-threatening. To prevent any further damage, it is important to quit drinking. Carolina Recovery Center can help you through the process of recovery from alcohol use disorder. Contact us today for more information about our alcohol treatment program in North Carolina.