Can You Mix Alcohol and Valtrex (Valacyclovir)?

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Alcohol is a substance used by individuals of all ages and backgrounds. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 219.2 million individuals have reportedly engaged in alcohol use during some point in their lives. (1) Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it slows down the central nervous system. This can impair the functioning of areas such as thinking, balance, breathing, coordination, and judgment.

Since alcohol follows specific mechanisms of action, drinking while taking certain medications, such as Valtrex, can lead to unwanted side effects. Depending on the medication prescribed, some individuals may choose to stop alcohol use if they have been prescribed Valtrex. This can be a difficult task if one engages in alcohol use daily or chronically. In 2021, 29.5 million individuals met the diagnostic criteria, and were diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. (2)

At Guardian Recovery, we offer comprehensive treatment options for those finding it hard to control their alcohol or other substance use. With medical detoxification services, including alcohol specific detox, we can aid those wanting to start their recovery journey do so in a safe and supervised environment. Our addiction therapy options can provide you, or a loved one, with psychoeducation and the coping techniques needed to reach long-term sobriety. Contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based treatment options, and to start your road to recovery.

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What Is Valtrex & How Is It Used?

Valtrex, also known by its generic name Valacyclovir, is a prescription, antiviral medication. (3) Valtrex is used to help treat the symptoms and infections caused by the herpes virus. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 572,000 new genital herpes infections occurred in individuals ages 14 to 49. (4) Valtrex helps the body fight off infections by slowing down the spread of the herpes virus. (5) Valtrex does not cure herpes and it does not stop the virus from being spread to others. It is used to help minimize the symptoms and keep them from worsening. (6) Valtrex should be taken as soon as symptoms begin in order for it to be effective.

Valtrex is used to help treat the following infections: (7)

  • Genital herpes.
  • Cold sores.
  • Shingles.
  • Chickenpox.

Children taking Valtrex must be at least 12 years of age if they are prescribed it to help treat cold sores, and at least 2 years of age if it is being used to treat chickenpox. (8)

Common Side Effects of Valtrex Use

There are various side effects that can occur with Valtrex use. Some side effects are common, while others can be serious and require medical attention. Side effects are more likely to occur in individuals 65 years of age or older. (9)

Common side effects associated with Valtrex use include: (10)

  • Pain in the stomach.
  • Nausea.
  • Headache.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms after Valtrex use: (11)

  • Confusion.
  • Aggression.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Seizures.
  • Kidney impairments (difficult or painful urinations).

Valtrex use must be stopped immediately if individuals experience side effects that can impact red blood cells. (12) These symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Pale skin.
  • Unusual bleeding.
  • Red or pink urine.
  • Swelling.
  • Tiredness or fatigue.
  • Red spots on the skin (not related to red spots caused by herpes or chickenpox).

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Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Valtrex?

Since both alcohol and Valtrex both have their own set of individual side effects that can occur, some individuals may wonder, can you drink alcohol while taking Valtrex? Currently, there are no specific drug interactions listed between Valtrex and alcohol, however, combining the two substances can worsen the side effects associated with both substances. (13)

Does Alcohol Make Valtrex Ineffective?

Combining alcohol use with certain medications can reduce the effectiveness of them. Alcohol does not appear to interfere with the effectiveness of Valtrex, however, it may be counterproductive to engage in the use of these substances simultaneously. Valtrex is used to help the immune system, while alcohol use impairs the immune system. (14) Alcohol use can make infections harder to treat and increase one’s chances of engaging in risky behaviors, such as engaging in unsafe sexual practices.

Possible Side Effects From Consuming Alcohol on Valtrex

Consuming alcohol while taking Valtrex can lead to unwanted side effects.

Side effects associated with combined alcohol and Valtrex use include: (15)

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Memory impairments, potentially leading to missed doses of Valtrex.

Alcohol use can also make an individual’s symptoms harder to treat. Additionally, both alcohol and Valtrex can lead to kidney damage.

What Should Be Avoided When Taking Valtrex?

There are medications that do lead to adverse side effects when taken with Valtrex. Since Valtrex can harm the kidneys, it is best to avoid medications that also add strain to the kidneys.

Medications that should be avoided when taking Valtrex include: (16)

  • Other antiviral medications.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Injected antibiotics.
  • Bowel disorder medications.
  • High blood pressure medications.
  • Injectable osteoporosis medications.
  • Organ transplant rejection medications.
  • Pain medications, such as Advil, Aleve, and Motrin.

Should Alcohol Be Avoided With Antiviral Medications?

Alcohol does not interfere with the effectiveness of antiviral medications. It is recommended to avoid combining the alcohol and antiviral medications in order to help with the recovery process and aid in improving negative symptoms.

How Long Should You Wait After Taking Valtrex to Consume Alcohol?

Due to the possible side effects and the impact to one’s immune system, it is recommended that individuals wait until their symptoms or conditions improve before engaging in alcohol use. However, there are no interactions between these 2 substances, so drinking after Valtrex use generally does not lead to dangerous side effects.

Dangers of Stopping Alcohol Use Abruptly

Those who choose to stop their alcohol use when taking Valtrex may need to enroll in a treatment program in order to ensure physical and psychological safety. Depending on the frequency and duration of an individual’s alcohol use, cutting back or stopping can be dangerous, and lead to premature death. At Guardian Recovery, we offer detox services for substances, including alcohol, to help stabilize brain chemistry that may have been impacted from alcohol use.

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At Guardian Recovery, we offer medical detoxification services to make recovering from chronic alcohol use as safe as possible, and to help minimize the negative symptoms associated with withdrawal. Additionally, we offer effective treatment options for those experiencing addiction to prescription medications or other substances. One of our Treatment Advisors is ready to speak with you and help guide you through our simple admissions process. Providing each individual seeking treatment with a complimentary, initial psychological assessment, we can provide you with not only an official diagnosis, but the tools needed to reach your sobriety goals. Ask about our free, no obligation insurance benefits checks to help determine which of our treatment options is covered by your health insurance plan. Start your road to recovery today at Guardian Recovery.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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