Atenolol is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure, heart attacks and related conditions. It is not recommended that a person combine atenolol and alcohol, because atenolol has many potential side effects, and drinking alcohol can increase the intensity of these side effects. Still, when a person begins taking a prescription medication, it is always important to ask the doctor about potential side effects, interactions and the advisability of mixing the prescription drug with any degree of alcohol consumption.
Many high blood pressure drugs, including atenolol, can cause fatigue, drowsiness, nausea and dizziness as side effects. Drinking alcohol on its own can cause similar effects, especially if a person consumes too much. Combining atenolol and alcohol can put a person in danger, because the alcohol can increase any symptoms already being experienced as a result of the medication. When a person mixes the two substances, he or she may be at risk of falling down from excessive dizziness or throwing up as a result of extreme nausea.
Another side effect of atenolol is depression. Alcohol can make a person act happy and goofy, but in reality, it has a depressive effect on the human body. If a person is already depressed as a side effect of taking atenolol, then drinking liquor, beer or wine will only make that depression worse. Once the person is under the influence of alcohol, he or she also may have impaired judgment. A person who has suicidal thoughts as a result of depression may be at risk of doing something dangerous — especially if his or her judgment is impaired — that he or she would not consider while sober.
Some people may argue that it is safe to combine atenolol and alcohol because one is processed in the kidneys and the other is processed in the liver. Those in favor of combining the two also may point out that combining atenolol and alcohol will not cause the medication to stop doing its job to lower blood pressure. While these two points may have some validity, it does not mean it is in a person's best interest to drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medication. Every person has a different alcohol tolerance and may respond to medications differently, as well. If a person is taking atenolol and wants to have some alcohol to celebrate his or her birthday or during a holiday party, then he or she should contact the prescribing doctor so the medical professional can offer the best advice based on the patient's personal medical history.