Drinking with a Concussion: What are the Dangers and Side Effects?

Bumping your head onto something lightly and feeling a short moment of pain is one thing, but a concussion is a whole different story. A concussion, simply put, is a traumatic brain injury that can impair brain functions. Its symptoms, unlike a slight head bump, can last for a year or even more.

That being said, there’s little to know about recovering from a concussion apart from resting their brains. Unfortunately, many myths and misconceptions about how to recover from concussions have also emerged from the lack of information. Interestingly enough, many of these myths revolve around drinking alcohol with a concussion.

Today, let’s talk about alcohol and concussion—what you need to know about drinking with a concussion:

What Happens If You Drink with a Concussion?

Before we proceed, it’s best that we understand exactly how a concussion affects the brain.

When you have a concussion, the blood vessels in your brain can swell. This can temporarily cut off blood flow to brain tissues, causing them to die. Ultimately, this can impair brain functions, leading to memory loss and other serious complications.

So, when you drink alcohol after suffering a concussion, you’re actually putting yourself at risk by further increasing your blood pressure and pulse rate. Your brain’s delicate tissues can be further damaged, putting the already injured brain at further risk. Over time, drinking alcohol while recovering from a concussion may even lead to symptoms like epilepsy, behavioral changes, and problems with memory.

In short, drinking alcohol with a concussion can lower your chances of full recovery. Alcohol, in essence, can actually make the symptoms of a concussion worse.

Are There Any Dangers to Drinking with a Concussion?

Yes, drinking while recovering from a concussion can be dangerous. Drinking alcohol while recovering can severely slow down the healing process of a concussion.

Alcohol slows down the brain’s ability to heal because it disrupts the brain’s blood vessels and other cells. It can also increase the likelihood of a concussion by affecting the dilation of your pupils and slowing your reflexes.

Alcohol has the ability to lower one’s awareness, reflexes, and physical strength. So, yes, drinking alcohol with a concussion can easily get you in serious trouble. For instance, with the lack of awareness and reflexes, you might get into another accident that can lead to more brain injury. This, of course, lengthens the time you need to recover from the concussion, but it might even lead to death.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Drinking with a Concussion?

Drinking alcohol after a concussion can have a long-term effect on your brain. Drinking alcohol with a concussion can result in the following:

In other words, when you drink alcohol after suffering a concussion, you’re not just affecting your health. You’re also unknowingly affecting the people around you.

can you drink with a concussion
Drinking with a Concussion

How Long Must I Wait before Drinking after a Concussion?

When you suffer a concussion, you need to rest your brain. In fact, the World Health Organization states that you must rest your brain at least ten days before you can even think of drinking alcohol.

Resting your brain means resting from strenuous or fast thinking activities. Also, you need to rest from reading, writing, or any other activity that will pressure your brain. The brain needs time to rest and recover from the injury without the risks of alcohol.

After about ten days, it’s safe to start light physical activity. That being said, it’s best that you still don’t drink alcohol for at least another six weeks. Resting from alcohol will give your brain time to recover from the concussion. You need your brain to be fully functioning to help you through daily activities like cooking, cleaning, and other chores.

For now, it’s best that you avoid alcohol while recovering from a concussion. You’ll not only heal faster, but you’ll also get to live longer!

Quitting Alcohol

Yes, you can quit drinking alcohol after a concussion. Granted, you might have to do some serious research on how to do it. This is because withdrawal symptoms can be severe and impede the healing process. That said, it’s possible to quit drinking after a concussion.

You may, for instance, need help from your family, friends, and even professionals. With professional help, you’ll be able to not just quit drinking but also help you get through the withdrawal symptoms.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of concentration

As you can see, quitting drinking alcohol can severely affect your mood. Fortunately, this won’t last forever provided that you have the right attitude and the right support system.

Quitting drinking alcohol can also help you avoid further injury to your brain. As we said before, your brain needs time to heal after a concussion. Any other trauma or alcohol intake can slow down or even stop the healing process, so it is always a good idea to try to at least cut down, if not quit, drinking alcohol.

What Else Can I Do to Recover from a Concussion?

Aside from not drinking alcohol, there’s still a lot you can do to help you recover from a concussion.

For one, you need to rest your brain. As we’ve said before, you need your brain to recover from the concussion. Resting your brain means no reading, writing, or any other mental or physical activities. Resting your brain can actually increase your chances of full recovery.

Some mild physical activities are, however, encouraged. Going for a walk, for instance, can help ease the pressure on your brain.

You should also keep yourself hydrated. Your body needs hydration to recover from the concussion.

You can also take some supplements to help you recover. For instance, there are some nootropics that can help the brain recover from a concussion. Nootropics can help you increase your learning abilities and improve your memory. This, of course, will help you go back to school and complete your studies.

Supplements that can help the brain recover from a concussion include:

Tyrosine—This antioxidant is often taken by alcoholics. It helps restore dopamine levels in your brain. It can also help you recover faster from depression and balance your mood.

Phenylalanine—When taken with Tyrosine, Phenylalanine is an amino acid that can help speed up recovery from a concussion.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine—This is an amino acid that can help with the brain’s energy levels. Given that concussions can easily tire the brain, this will be of some help.

Fish Oil—One of the most popular nootropics on the market, fish oil is a great way to help your brain recover from a concussion.


In short, beware of drinking alcohol with a concussion! Alcohol does not help the concussion heal and can actually damage the brain further. In the long run, you may end up suffering from serious complications like epilepsy and more. However, if you have been an avid alcohol drinker previously, don’t just quit cold turkey. This can put your body in danger of withdrawal symptoms, so always find the right support to help you recover!