Zorvolex (Diclofenac) and Alcohol

Why You Shouldn't Drink When Taking This Pain Medication

A medication that reduces mild to moderate pain and inflammation, Zorvolex (diclofenac) helps manage symptoms of osteoarthritis, as well as can other cases of short-term (acute) pain. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, occurs when cartilage, the elastic tissue that lines your joints, breaks down, leading to pain and swelling.

By suppressing the activity of specific enzymes associated with sensation and blood circulation, Zorvolex, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), has both an analgesic (pain-reducing) and anti-inflammatory effect.

Only available with a prescription, Zorvolex comes in a capsule form, and like other others of its class, it can interact with other substances you’re taking, including alcohol. If you’re prescribed this medication, mixing the two can damage the stomach and the small intestine, leading to gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding.

This is why healthcare providers advise abstaining from beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages while taking Zorvolex, among other NSAIDs, such as Motrin and Advil (ibuprofen).

Why is alcohol so problematic when mixed with this medication? What happens when you have gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding? Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between Zorvolex and alcohol.

Mixing Alcohol and Medications

Before exploring what drinking alcohol while on Zorvolex does to the body, it’s worth looking at what wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages can do to drug metabolism in general. While some drugs won’t interact, others certainly will, and this goes for both prescribed and over-the-counter medications as well as some herbal products or supplements.

What can happen when drugs and alcohol interact poorly? Here’s a quick breakdown of the more common issues:

  • Increased intoxication: Some medications increase the dizziness, drowsiness, impaired motor function, and sleepiness associated with alcoholic intoxication.
  • Reduced tolerance: The body’s ability to breakdown alcohol can become limited, increasing risk of overdose.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Drinking while taking some drugs, including most NSAIDs, can cause erosion of the intestinal lining, leading to a range of health effects.
  • Damage to the stomach: The combination of some drugs with alcohol can also damage the lining of the stomach, leading to ulcers, or holes.
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Heart problems such as rapid or irregular heartbeat, sudden fluctuation of blood pressure, strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks can occur due to some interactions.
  • Liver damage: Since the liver plays a crucial role in the breakdown of alcohol and medications, concurrent use can damage this organ. This can lead to jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes), rapid weight loss, fatigue, and other symptoms.
  • Cognitive issues: Confusion and memory problems are among the cognitive issues that mixing alcohol and medications can cause.  

Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about whether it’s safe to consume alcohol alongside any medication you’re taking. Unless explicitly stated that it’s OK, you may want to steer clear.

Zorvolex and Alcohol

Interactions between alcohol and Zorvolex, among other NSAIDs, can be dangerous, which is why it’s strongly recommended to avoid drinking while on this medication. The combined effect of these substance significantly increases the risk of GI bleeding, leading to stomach ulcers.

Why does that happen? Basically, NSAIDs inhibit the production of prostaglandin, a lipid associated with inflammatory responses and regulating blood flow. While this does reduce swelling—one of the aims of treatment—it can also cause the lining of the gastrointestinal tract to weaken, leading to ulcers forming in the stomach and/or intestines.

Adding alcohol to this mix increases the chance of this happening, and the risk rises dramatically if patients drink a lot during their course of treatment. As with any prescribed drug, it’s best to be open with your healthcare provider about any substances, other medications, or herbal supplements you’re taking.

Mixing Alcohol and Zorvolex

Verywell / Jessica Olah

Gastrointestinal Bleeding Risk

What happens when you experience GI bleeding? Symptoms vary based on the severity and location of the ulceration in the tract. If you experience any of the following, be sure stop taking Zorvolex and call your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Red-colored vomit
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Tarry or very dark stool
  • Dark blood mixed into the stool
  • Stool covered in bright red blood
  • Pain in the upper portion of the stomach

Make sure to check the prescription information, or ask your pharmacist about any other symptoms that are problematic.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider when you have any of the symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding. Severe cases of GI bleeding can be fatal, so be mindful of how you're feeling.

In general, seek emergency help and stop taking Zorvolex if you experience:

  • Swelling of limbs, abdomen, eyes, face, tongue, lips, and/or throat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellowing of eyes or skin)
  • Hives and/or rash
  • Rapid heart rate

A Word From Verywell

While NSAIDs like Zorvolex can effectively manage osteoarthritis and other kinds of acute pain and swelling, it can only do so when it’s taken correctly and carefully. To avoid the risk of side-effects, the general guidance, when it comes to this class of drugs, is for healthcare providers to prescribe the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible amount of time.

While they're aiming to minimize the presence of Zorvolex in your body, the risk of GI bleeding is always there if you decide to have a drink. No matter what medication you've been prescribed, it's always a good idea to be careful; make sure it's safe before you have that drink.    


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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. US Food and Drug Administration. Highlights of prescribing information: Zorvolex.

  4. National Institutes of Health. GI bleed: gastrointestinal bleeding. MedlinePlus.

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