Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/26/2022
If you have hormonal acne, female pattern hair loss or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), your healthcare provider may prescribe the antiandrogen medication spironolactone to help you gain control over your symptoms.
It’s important to minimize your alcohol consumption while using spironolactone, as drinking can increase your risk of side effects such as lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting.
However, if you’ve recently stopped taking spironolactone, it’s usually okay to have a drink once the medication and its metabolites have left your system. For most people, this takes a few days to one week.
Below, we’ve covered what spironolactone is, as well as why your healthcare provider may ask you to use this medication.
We’ve also discussed how long you should wait after taking spironolactone before drinking any alcohol, as well as the steps that you can take to use alcohol safely after ending treatment with spironolactone.
Spironolactone is a medication that’s used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart failure. It’s also widely used to treat low potassium levels and edema (excessive fluid retention) caused by a range of different conditions.
Spironolactone works by helping your body to expel extra water and sodium. Due to its effects on reducing water retention and regulating body fluid levels, it’s often called a water pill.
Like many other medications, spironolactone is often prescribed off-label to treat certain medical conditions, including hormonal acne breakouts, female pattern hair loss and other health issues caused by excessive levels of androgen hormones.
Available as a tablet and as a liquid, spironolactone belongs to a class of medications referred to as mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists.
When it comes to acne and hair loss, spironolactone is generally prescribed for its ability to cut down the production of testosterone — an androgen hormone that can cause acne and can convert to dihydrotestosterone, which damages hair follicles.
Spironolactone is a safe and effective medication for most women. However, like all prescription medications, spironolactone can potentially cause adverse effects.
Common side effects of spironolactone include:
Nausea and vomiting
Stomach cramps and/or pain
Breast pain and/or breast swelling
Changes to your menstrual cycle
Post-menopausal vaginal bleeding
Changes in your body hair growth
Drowsiness, fatigue and confusion
Changes in motor control
Our guide to spironolactone side effects goes into more detail about these potential side effects, as well as the steps you can take if you experience any issues while using spironolactone.
If you’re prescribed spironolactone for hormonal acne breakouts, female pattern hair loss or any other condition, it’s important to closely follow your healthcare provider’s instructions to minimize your risk of experiencing these side effects. We have a guide on how to safely stop taking spironolactone for acne if you are thinking of stop taking them.
Like many other prescription medications, spironolactone generally shouldn’t be used with alcohol.
When you drink alcohol with spironolactone, you may develop orthostatic hypotension — a form of low blood pressure that occurs when you stand up after sitting down. This sudden decrease in blood pressure can cause problems such as dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting.
These issues can significantly increase your risk of injuring yourself, especially when combined with the effects of alcohol on your balance and motor skills.
If you normally drink alcohol, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about staying safe while using spironolactone.
Your healthcare provider may suggest moderating your alcohol consumption or avoiding alcohol altogether while you use spironolactone.
Make sure to closely follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding alcohol use to stay safe while you’re taking spironolactone.
So, what about if you stop taking spironolactone? Assuming you’ve successfully dealt with your acne breakouts or prevented your pattern hair loss from becoming more severe, how long after taking spironolactone can you drink alcohol?
Spironolactone has a relatively short half-life, meaning the amount of time that’s required for it to reach half of its original concentration in your body. On average, the half-life of spironolactone is approximately 1.4 hours.
This means that a standard dose of spironolactone is “out of your system” within 24 hours of the time you took your medication.
However, certain metabolites or spironolactone can last for significantly longer in your body, with some requiring 15 hours or longer to reach half of their initial concentration. These metabolites can take three to four days to completely exit your body.
Because of this, it’s important to wait for several days before drinking alcohol or increasing your alcohol consumption after stopping spironolactone.
It’s also important to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your alcohol consumption, especially if you’re using other medications to treat acne, hair loss or other health issues.
In addition to spironolactone, strong acne medications such as isotretinoin can also potentially cause issues when they’re taken with alcohol.
Ask your healthcare provider about the safety of drinking alcohol after stopping treatment with spironolactone, and make sure to closely follow their medical advice and recommendations.
If you’re given the all-clear to start drinking after stopping spironolactone, it’s fine to get out and enjoy yourself. However, it’s best to take a few precautions to reduce your risk of experiencing any issues while you’re drinking. Try to:
Start with small quantities of alcohol. If you’ve been taking spironolactone for a long time and moderating your alcohol consumption during treatment, you may have a lower tolerance for alcohol than before.
To avoid becoming drunk too quickly, try starting with small quantities of alcohol. Stick to one or two drinks for your first night out with friends so that you can assess your alcohol tolerance, even if you normally feel comfortable drinking more than this.
Take it slow and steady. Avoid drinking alcohol too quickly. To slow down your alcohol consumption, try to make yourself have one non-alcohol drink, such as a glass of water, soda or fruit juice, between each serving of alcohol.
Stop drinking alcohol if you notice any issues. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded or as if you’re going to faint, stop drinking alcohol right away. If you’re in a bar or club, switch to soda or another non-alcoholic drink until you feel more comfortable.
If you have an alcohol use disorder, tell your healthcare provider. Make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you’re alcohol dependent before using spironolactone, as this may affect your ability to use this medication safely.
How long after taking spironolactone can you safely consume alcohol? If you’ve only recently stopped using spironolactone, it’s generally best to wait for three to four days before you drink alcohol.
You should also talk to your healthcare provider to check that drinking is okay, especially if you use other medications.
Spironolactone is one of several medications used to treat hair loss and acne in women. Others include tretinoin and other topical retinoids, clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide for acne, as well as minoxidil for hair loss.
We offer several of these medications as part of our range of acne treatments and medications for female hair loss.
Interested in learning more about acne and hair loss? Our full guide to the best acne treatments explains what medications you can use to bring your breakouts under control, while our guide to female hair loss covers why hair loss happens and what you can do to treat it.