Substance Abuse
6 minutes

Does Alcohol Thin Your Blood?

Medically Reviewed
Last Medically Reviewed on: June 30, 2023

Key Points

  • Alcohol can make you more prone to excessive bleeding while you’re intoxicated.
  • If you notice that you're drinking more, drinking higher alcohol-content beverages, or feeling restless when you aren't drinking, it is time to seek help.
  • Alcohol can affect the normal function of your kidneys and liver, which means it might take longer for blood thinners to leave your system than normal

Alcohol is a major part of our culture, and a lot of people drink regularly, either on their own or at events.

The fact that alcohol is used so often makes it especially important for everyone to understand how alcohol affects your brain and body [1], including how it interacts with your circulatory system and if alcohol thins your blood.

If you’ve heard that alcohol can thin your blood and are wondering if it’s true, you’re in the right place.

We’re going to talk about how alcohol affects users, including the answer to the question: does alcohol thin your blood. We’ll also talk about the addiction risk that comes with using alcohol, how you can manage your risk, and how you can spot a possible addiction before it becomes a problem.

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Remember, everyone can use this information, whether you’re worried about an addiction yourself, worried about a friend or family member who might be dealing with an addiction, or simply have friends and family who drink.

does alcohol thin your blood

Does Alcohol Thin Your Blood?

If you’re wondering does alcohol thin your blood, the answer is sort of. Alcohol causes a thinning effect in your blood because it reduces your red blood cells’ ability to stick together [2]. That sticking action is how your blood cells form scabs, and can also be involved in blood clotting which can cause heart attacks and strokes [3].

The fact that alcohol temporarily and moderately thins your blood is one reason that having a single drink a day, like a glass of wine or a beer, can work to help reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. However, despite the potential benefits of mild to moderate drinking, heavy drinking increases your risk of the same diseases that moderate drinking can protect against.

Regardless of the potential benefits, people with certain health conditions, or who are taking certain medications, should not drink at the same time or should be sure to drink significantly less than they otherwise would if they continue drinking. While the blood thinning effect of alcohol can be beneficial, there are a lot of other symptoms and side effects of alcohol use that are not beneficial. Plus, so long as you continue drinking you are also at risk of developing an addiction to alcohol.

Dangers Of Substances That Thin Your Blood

There are a lot of different considerations when you’re using a substance that thins your blood the way alcohol can. In this section, we’ll talk about the specific dangers that come with alcohol being a blood thinner, as well as some of the more general risks of alcohol use.

Excessive Bleeding

One of the first and most important risks of using alcohol is that it can make you more prone to excessive bleeding while you’re intoxicated.

This risk normally isn’t a big deal, but it can be depending on your health status and how much you drink. One of the problems with alcohol being a blood thinner is that drinking also increases your risk of falling or being in an accident. If you fall and injure yourself while drinking, you’re likely to bleed more than you would have if you were sober. That includes internal injuries as well as external ones.

If you’ve ever noticed that you get more serious bruises when you bump into things while drinking compared to when you aren’t drinking, this is probably why. When your blood doesn’t clot as well, it also can’t create as good of a seal, which means that you’ll bleed a little more and a little longer when you’re drinking. The more you drink, the more this effect increases.

Alcohol Should Not Be Mixed With Blood Thinners

There are two main reasons why alcohol should not be mixed with blood thinners. First, alcohol and blood thinners can have similar effects, so you might get too much of an effect, which can be just as harmful as not taking your medication. Additionally, alcohol can also affect the normal function of your kidneys and liver, which means that it might take longer for blood thinners to leave your system than normal, increasing your risk of an accidental overdose when you take the medication.

There can also be additional side effects and problems we aren’t going to mention here depending on why you’re taking blood thinners, which medication you take, your dose, and how much and how often you drink. Talk to your doctor if you’re on blood thinners and still want to drink to find out if it’s safe, and how much you can safely drink while you’re taking your medication.

Risk Of Developing An Addiction

Alcohol use always comes with some risk of developing an addiction. People are more likely to develop an addiction if you have a previous addiction if they’re undergoing a lot of stress, have had a recent loss, are dealing with a mental health disorder, or have a history of trauma.
The more you drink in a single sitting, and the more often you drink, the greater your risk of developing an addiction. Mild to moderate drinking is always safer than heavy drinking or binge drinking, though any amount of alcohol can increase your risk of developing alcohol addiction.

How To Spot An Addiction In The Early Stages

Anytime you’re taking a potentially addictive substance, whether that’s alcohol or another drug, it’s important to be aware of how your use can potentially lead to an addiction. There are a lot of possible signs of an addiction, but it’s better to catch the problem as soon as possible.

The longer you have an addiction the more difficult it’s likely to be to kick the habit.

It’s important to remember that addiction is treatable at any phase and that you can overcome your addiction if you choose to, even if you didn’t catch the addiction early. That said, here are some early warning signs of addiction:

  • You find yourself drinking alcohol more often than you used to
  • You get distracted thinking about drinking
  • You feel like you need to drink to have fun
  • You’ve started going to more social get-togethers as an excuse to drink
  • You’ve started to drink when you’re alone, even if you only used to drink on social occasions
  • Drinking doesn’t make you feel relaxed, it just helps you feel ‘normal’
  • You’re spending more money than you used to on alcohol
  • Your alcohol budget is starting to cut into the rest of your budget
  • It’s getting harder to budget for your alcohol use
  • You have or have considered stealing to get more money for alcohol
  • You have started to crave alcohol when you aren’t drinking
  • You have thought about ways to sneak alcohol into dry settings, like work or school
  • You’ve started drinking at inappropriate times
  • Your friends or family seem concerned by your drinking
  • You feel like you need to hide your drinking
  • You drink to “cure” hangovers

These are some of the earliest signs of addiction, but as you might have noticed, most of these are feelings that might not always be there when you’re starting to become addicted to alcohol.

There are other warning signs of addiction, like drinking more days than you don’t, or binge drinking more than twice a week.
Other warning signs are when you don’t feel like yourself unless you’re drinking, if you have problems winding down after work without a drink, or if you feel like you can’t sleep without drinking.

Even just being concerned that you might have an addiction can be an early warning sign either than you have an addiction, or that you are vulnerable to potentially developing one. Both can be concerning. It’s reasonable to be worried about drinking if you notice that you’re drinking more, drinking higher alcohol-content beverages, or feeling restless when you aren’t drinking.

The reasons you choose to drink can also be an important indicator. For instance, if you start drinking just to drink, that’s a concerning behavior. If you start drinking beverages you don’t actually enjoy because you like how they make you feel, or because they are cheap and have high alcohol content, that’s another concerning sign.

Safe drinking behavior usually involves drinking no more than 1-2 drinks per session, only drinking a few times a week, and drinking beverages you enjoy rather than beverages that get you tipsy or drunk faster.

How To Get Help If Dealing With A Substance Abuse Disorder

How To Get Help If Dealing With A Substance Abuse Disorder

Getting help for addiction can feel frightening, but the good news is that there are usually a lot of resources out there for you if you feel like you’re struggling.

One of the better options for people dealing with alcohol addiction is going to a treatment center. This is important because alcohol addiction can cause a lot of widespread damage and health issues, especially if you’ve been addicted for a while, combined alcohol with other drugs, or tend to binge drink.

Treatment centers can offer some medical support while you’re recovering, including a balanced diet, hydration, and medication that can make it easier to handle the symptoms of withdrawal.

If you’re ready to face your addiction head-on, and want the best possible help recovering, treatment centers can help. If you’re a teenager or are worried about a teenager addicted to alcohol, contact BasePoint treatment center to learn about our programs and how we can help you.
Recovery is in reach, you just have to be willing to reach out and take it.

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[1] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.) Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. Retrieved from on 2022, October 27.

[2] Healthline. Watson S. (2018, September 28) Does Alcohol Thin Your Blood? Retrieved from,by%20blockages%20in%20blood%20vessels on 2022, October 27.

[3] Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Alcohol and Heart Health: Separating Fact from Fiction. Retrieved from on 2022, October 27.