Prednisone: What is It?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

December 30, 2022

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Prednisone is a cortisone-like medication known as a corticosteroid that acts on the immune system to help reduce swelling, itching, redness, and allergic reactions.

What is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a prescription steroid medication available in the following forms:

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  • Immediate-release prednisone
  • Delayed-release prednisone
  • Liquid prednisone solution

You take prednisone of all forms by mouth, ideally after eating.

The delayed-release prednisone tablet is available both as a branded version (Rayos) and a generic drug. Immediate-release prednisone tablets are only available in generic form.

This medication is a type of corticosteroid used to treat various conditions related to inflammation and immune system overactivity. Prednisone’s mechanism of action affects the immune system, leading to an array of potential side effects manifesting.

What is Prednisone Used For?

Prednisone effectively reduces inflammation in your body. The medication can be utilized as an immunosuppressive agent or as an anti-inflammatory agent.

The medication in delayed-release corticosteroid form is FDA-approved to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Eye inflammation
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Colitis
  • Bursitis
  • Anemia
  • Dermatitis
  • Lupus
  • Eye ulcers
  • Lung disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)

Prednisone can also be prescribed to mitigate organ rejection following a kidney transplant. The medication can help lower immune system response to the new kidney, an object the body recognizes as a foreign mass, triggering an immune system response.

It is not possible to obtain prednisone with a prescription from a healthcare provider.

What Does Prednisone Do?

Prednisone weakens the immune system in the body.

The medication blocks chemicals that typically cause inflammation as part of the body’s normal immune response. This mechanism of action can help to minimize inflammation in many parts of the body.

How Long Does Prednisone Stay in Your System?

Prednisone stays in the system for anywhere from 16 hours to 22 hours.

While the Rayos drug label quotes the half-life of prednisone at 2 to 3 hours, Drug Watch suggests that research suggests the medication has a half-life of 3 to 4 hours. The half-life of a drug is how long it takes for the blood concentration levels of the drug to be reduced to half the original value.

It takes an average of 5 or 6 half-lives for a medication to be completely eliminated from the system. Variables that impact elimination time include:

  • How much you have taken
  • How often you have taken the medication
  • Age
  • Metabolic rate
  • Body mass
  • Overall health status

Prednisone and Alcohol

There is no drug interaction directly caused by mixing prednisone and alcohol.

That said, some prednisone side effects mirror the effects of alcohol on the body. Taking both substances at the same time can increase the likelihood of these effects occurring.

Setting aside alcohol interactions, you could encounter any of the following side effects when taking prednisone:

  • Mood changes
  • High blood pressure
  • Suppression of adrenal glands
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stomach irritation
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Pancreatitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fluid or electrolyte imbalances

If you take higher doses of prednisone or if you take the medication for longer durations, the risk for side effects increases.

Some of the effects of alcohol are similar to prednisone’s effects, such as:

  • Mood changes
  • Behavior changes
  • Inflammation
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakening of immune system
  • Stomach upset
  • Liver inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Adrenal suppression

Follow your doctor’s instructions concerning a safe amount of alcohol to consume while taking prednisone.

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Perhaps you are concerned about your alcohol intake. Maybe you are engaging in abusive drinking patterns. Or, you may already have developed alcohol use disorder. Whatever issues you have with alcohol, we can help you unpack them here at Renaissance Recovery.

We offer a variety of outpatient treatment programs for alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder. We also provide robust treatment for mental health disorders and co-occurring disorders (an addiction with a co-occurring mental health condition).

Outpatient therapy allows you to remain connected to your personal and professional responsibilities while engaging with addiction treatment.

Our outpatient programming is available to all levels of intensity, including:

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Your treatment team will draw from the following research-based therapies to create a personalized treatment plan:

  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT, talk therapies proven effective for treating alcohol use disorder)
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Once you complete your treatment program, you will have addressed both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. From here, you can either shift down to a less intensive level of care or move directly back into day-to-day life. Either way, your treatment team will equip you with a relapse prevention and aftercare plan. At Renaissance, we appreciate that alcoholism has high relapse rates, and we are here to support you throughout your ongoing journey to sobriety.

All you need to do is reach out to admissions today at 866.330.9449.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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