Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
Can I drink alcohol while I am taking Coumadin (Warfarin)?
Posted in Deep Vein Throm... by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Apr 19, 2010
"I have two instances of deep venous thrombosis (DVTs) in my leg and a Pulmonary Emboli (PE). I’m told by some that you can drink alcohol and some that you can't. Which is right?"

For those of you taking Coumadin (Warfarin) you know how changes in dietary intake can affect your INR. Everything, in moderation, IS ok and there is no exception with alcohol. While chronic abuse of alcohol affects the body's ability to handle Warfarin, occasional use does not. Patients on Warfarin therapy should avoid drinking alcohol on a daily basis but one to two drinks of alcohol occasionally is fine. As we all know, drinking alcohol heavily or on a daily basis with Warfarin is not a good idea as it can affect the metabolism of Warfarin AND can increase the risk of injury, and therefore bleeding.

- Dr O.
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LauraLu's comment below is a good one. Vague but good. From my experience of being on Coumadin the past 4 months I have noticed the greatest interaction with wine. Before I needed to take Coumadin I was a frequent wine drinker (couple glasses before bed most nights). If I went out to a bar I usually drank wine (not into hard alcohol or beer). I could drink 4 glasses of wine and although I was buzzy I wasn't incoherent by any means. Now that I'm on Coumadin, without exaggerating if I drink more than 2 glasses of wine I not only black out, but I act obnoxious (like I drank 2 bottles). To make it worse, I am bed ridden the next day feeling nauseous. It's awful. I recently switched my drink of choice to vodka/soda and can drink as many as I want without the awful affects I got with the wine. I still get scared to have that bad interaction so I always drink a ton of water now between drinks and sip on my drinks a lot longer.
By Kuuipo  Jun 30, 2012
This is a substantial QOL issue for warfarin patients! I think Laura touches on something here that defines why being a warfarin patient so difficult (physically and emotionally). There is such a wide variety of medical advice when it comes to what you can/can't/should/shouldn't eat, drink or take when it comes to potential interactions with this drug. Many of us see mutiple specialists in the course of our treatment for DVT/PE; Pulmonoligists, Hemotologists, PCPs (GP), Interventional Radiologists, Vascular Surgeons to name a few. It has taken some getting used to (IMHO), that asking the same question to each of the doctors can illicit a very wide range of recommendations. On this subject alone I have been told from 'absolutely none' upto '2 drinks per day. (A drink was definded as 1 oz alcohol, 1 12oz beer or 1 4oz glass of wine). Since consistancy (along with moderation) in diet is also a parameter here, I have chosen the latter :-) -P
By petvs  Apr 21, 2010
I have been on warfarin for 2 years, and will be for the rest of my life. I have a couple of glasses of red wine every night, my docs (hematologist and PCP) know about it, and the only warning I ever got was not to get intoxicated - absolutely no binge drinking.
It's really confusing to people because our own personal docs give us their (wide variety of) opinions on the topic, and we all get together on DS to compare notes and find there's little consistency in the messages we're getting. So with all due respect to Dr. O's opinion, I have to have faith that my personal doctors, with their knowledge of my general health and lifestyle habits, would tell me it was NOT OK for me to be drinking wine every day.
By LauraLu  Apr 20, 2010
I have an inherited blood disorder that necessitates taking Coumadin for the rest of my life. I can tell you from experience that it depends on the level\dose that you are taking and what alcohol you intend to mix with it. I treated the situation casually for a long time and drank socially, not really worrying about the effects. That was until I celebrated at a holiday party and almost killed myself. My doctor told me that the effect of whatever alcohol I drank was compounded by about 100%. So two was like four. Five was like ten. I remember taking only one; what happened after that is a mystery because I passed out at some point. Yes, moderation is the key, but being a good judge of your level of moderation decreases quickly.
By Caboose9  Apr 20, 2010
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