Alcohol Reduces Pain in Chronic Pain Patients.

Long before modern pain-killers, people realized that drinking alcohol reduces pain. So they have apparently consumed alcohol to relieve pain since prehistoric times.

And they’ve done so throughout recorded history up to the present time. Who hasn’t seen a Western movie showing someone drinking whiskey to help endure removal of a bullet? Indeed, many people around the world deal with pain by drinking. About 25% to 27% of people in the U.S. currently drink to relieve physical pain.

Lab research shows that alcohol reduces pain. And such studies show that alcohol reduces pain in both humans and animals. Yet the pain in labs tends to be very short-term.

But what about chronic pain? That’s the continuing pain suffered by so many people. This includes pain from many different diseases.

I.   The Study
II.  Fibromyalgia
III. Resources

I. The Study: Alcohol Reduces Pain

alcohol reduces painResearchers wanted to learn the effectiveness of moderate drinking on chronic pain. To do so, they studied 2,583 new chronic pain patients at a pain clinic.

They identified patients who were moderate drinkers. That is, men who had 14 or fewer drinks per week. And women who had seven or fewer drinks weekly.

Also, many of the patients had fibromyalgia. Therefore, the researchers examined alcohol in relation to pain and fibromyalgia symptoms.

Moderate drinkers had significantly less pain, fewer painful body areas, and greater physical function. That’s compared to alcohol abstainers. And it was true for both men and women.

Patients who had fibromyalgia and drank moderately enjoyed the same pain relief. But also, they had many fewer fibromyalgia symptoms.1

These findings are consistent with those of other studies. For instance, a Scottish study found that pain patients who drank alcohol suffered less disability from their pain. That’s compared alcohol abstainers. Moreover, the heaviest drinkers had the least disability.

And a study of fibromyalgia patients reported that  drinkers had less pain, less fatigue, and fewer work absences than non-drinkers.

II. Fibromyalgia

alcohol reduces painFibromyalgia is a condition causing widespread pain, sleeping problems, fatigue, and sometimes emotional stress. Pain tends to occur in nine pairs of specific locations in the body indicated by the red spots.

Risk factors include these.

    • Gender (twice as common among women).
    • Age (risk increases with age).
    • Lupus.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis.

III. Resources: Alcohol Reduces Pain




    1. Scott, J. et al. Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced pain and fibromyalgia symptoms.  Pain Med, 13.


    • This site gives no advice. Please see your doctor to learn if alcohol reduces pain in your case.