Understanding Flush: Why Does Your Face Turn Red?

Why does your face turn red when you consume certain substances? What impact does this have on the mind and body? Find out here.


In this enlightening exploration, we explore the intriguing and often misunderstood phenomenon of facial flushing. We’ll help you understand the answer to the question, “Why does your face turn red when you drink alcohol or consume other substances?”

This reaction can be triggered by an array of factors, such as:

  • Emotions, such as embarrassment or stress
  • Physiological responses to substances like alcohol or spicy foods 
face turn red

What to Expect from This Article

Throughout this article, we will unravel the question of “why does my face turn red when I drink or consume other substances?” We will also explore the implications for health and practical strategies to manage when your face turns red. 

We’ll take a specific look at the connection between facial reddening and substance use. We’ll discuss how this reaction can serve as a bodily signal, and how understanding it can empower you towards better health and well-being. 

Prepare to embark on a comprehensive journey that illuminates the correlation between facial flushing and alcohol or substance use.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease. It’s marked by alcohol or drug seeking and use that’s difficult to control. Those with a substance use disorder will continue to use despite harmful consequences. 

The exact symptoms can vary depending on the specific substance used. But, there are several common signs and symptoms that might show a person is struggling with addiction.1

Increased Tolerance

Tolerance is the need for more of the substance over a period of time. This is one of the key physiological signs of addiction.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping or reducing the use of a substance indicates addiction. 

Withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea or vomiting

Loss of Control

This is when a person uses more of the substance or uses it more often than they intend to. They may have made unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control their use.

Neglecting Other Activities

The person gives up social or recreational activities because of substance use.

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences

Even though it’s causing physical or psychological problems, the person continues to use the substance.

Time Spent

Significant amounts of time spent getting, using, or recovering from the substance indicates an addiction.


The person experiences strong desires or urges to use the substance.

Impaired Judgment

The person may take risks, including dangerous or illegal activities, to get the substance.

Impaired relationships

Continued substance use causes or adds to interpersonal problems.

Important Note About Substance Use

Not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol becomes addicted. Addiction can also develop slowly over time. The presence of one or two of these symptoms doesn’t always mean a person is addicted. But, it could show a potential problem that should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

What Drives Addiction?

Addiction is a complex disease that’s often driven by underlying problems, such as:

  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Mental health disorders 

Effective treatment involves addressing these issues along with addressing substance use. A combination of approaches can provide the most effective treatment. Find comprehensive addiction treatment at Choice House.

Why Does Your Face Turn Red When Using Substances?

Flushing, or the reddening of the face, happens due to the dilation of blood vessels. This is called vasodilation. Vasodilation increases blood flow and makes the face turn red.2 This vasodilation is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. 

This is the part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously controlled, such as:

  • Breathing
  • Heartbeat
  • Digestion

Substances That Make Your Face Turn Red

In relation to substance use, several substances can make the face turn red. 


The most well-known example of a substance making the face turn red is alcohol. This is known as the “alcohol flush reaction.” It’s often seen in people of East Asian descent.

This reaction is due to an inherited deficiency in an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). This enzyme helps metabolize alcohol. 

When ALDH2 levels are low or its function is impaired, the body accumulates acetaldehyde. This is a toxic metabolite of alcohol. High acetaldehyde levels trigger the release of histamine. Histamine is a compound that causes vasodilation and makes the face turn red.3


Caffeine may also make your face turn red. This is especially true for those who are not regular caffeine consumers. Caffeine is a stimulant that can raise blood pressure and heart rate. This increase may lead to increased blood flow and facial flushing.


Nicotine can make your face turn red. It stimulates the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline can:

  • Increase heart rate
  • Constrict blood vessels
  • Raise blood pressure 

Once the effects of nicotine wear off, the blood vessels might dilate, making your face turn red.4


Some users of marijuana may experience flushing due to the substance’s effects on blood pressure and heart rate. 

The active compound in marijuana, THC, can cause an acute increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This can result in increased blood flow and facial reddening.5

Those who are allergic to marijuana may also have their face turn red.


Opioids can trigger the release of histamines. This is like the alcohol flush reaction. This can cause flushing alongside other allergy-like symptoms, such as itching or hives. The effects that make your face turn red can vary from person to person. 

These factors are based on:6

  • Genetics
  • Tolerance of the substance
  • The amount of substance used 

A healthcare provider should check for persistent or severe flushing. This is because it could signal an underlying condition or a harmful reaction to the substance.

Does Your Face Turn Red as a Sign of Addiction?

Facial flushing itself is not considered a primary sign of addiction. Making the face turn red is sometimes associated with the use of certain substances, such as alcohol. 

But, it is more often only a physiological reaction to the substance rather than a sign of addiction or dependence.

Why Does My Face Turn Red Consistently?

Consistent facial flushing following substance use could be a cause for concern. If a person is frequently consuming a substance to the point of symptoms like facial flushing, it could suggest problematic use. 

Alcohol Flush Reaction

In some people who experience an “alcohol flush reaction,” facial flushing might prevent alcohol use. This facial reddening might reduce the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

If you or someone else is concerned about potential substance use or addiction, it is important to seek professional help. Choice House can provide a thorough assessment and appropriate treatment recommendations.

How Healthcare Providers Can Help Manage or Prevent When Your Face Turns Red

To help manage what makes the face turn red will depend on addressing underlying causes. Here are some potential approaches based on different scenarios:

Alcohol-Induced Flushing

The first step in management would be to advise people to limit or abstain from alcohol use. Medical intervention might be necessary if the flushing is severe and associated with other symptoms, such as:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Certain medications, such as antihistamines, can be used to help manage the symptoms. Medications should be used under medical supervision, as they can have side effects or reactions to other substances.

Caffeine, Nicotine, and Marijuana-Related Flushing

The best management strategy for substance-related flushing would be to avoid the substance. When people are unwilling or unable to refrain from using, physicians may advise on safe usage practices. 

This might include reducing the amount used or using the substance in a lower-stress environment. 

Opioid-Related Flushing

This can be a little more complex for those using opioids for pain management. In some cases, a different opioid or non-opioid pain medication may need to be tried. Antihistamines can also be used to help manage flushing but can have potential side effects.

Importance of Education

For healthcare providers, it’s important to educate patients about the cause of their symptoms and how substance use can affect their health. A person is often referred to a specialist if the facial reddening is persistent or severe.

Healthcare providers should always approach these situations with empathy and understanding. Substance use can be a sensitive topic for many people. 

Choice House can provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for people to discuss their concerns. 

Health Implications of What Makes Your Face Turn Red

The implications of what makes your face turn red depend on the cause of the flushing. Often, flushing is temporary. 

It can often be a mild response to certain triggers like:

  • Substances
  • Emotional states
  • Temperature changes 

But, frequent or severe flushing can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition that justifies medical intervention. 

Below are some potential implications of the face turning red and how they may inform treatment plans.

Substance Use

Your face turning red can be a sign of a reaction to certain substances. In this case, the treatment plan would involve reducing or eliminating the use of the substance. 

Substance use can also lead to other serious health problems beyond flushing, such as:

  • Liver disease from alcohol
  • Lung disease from smoking 

Treatment plans should also address these broader health risks associated with substance use.

Allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction can make your face turn red. The flushing can be a sign of a severe allergic reaction if included with symptoms like:

  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing 

These symptoms may need immediate medical attention.

Hormonal Changes

Flushing can be a symptom of menopause or other hormonal changes. In this case, treatment might involve:

  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Treatments to manage the symptoms of menopause

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause the face to turn red, including:7

  • Carcinoid syndrome 
  • Rosacea
  • Certain autoimmune conditions like lupus

If a healthcare provider suspects that flushing is a sign of one of these conditions, they may recommend further diagnostic tests. They will then develop a treatment plan based on the specific condition.


Some medications can make the face turn red as a side effect. If this is the case, a healthcare provider might consider:

  • Switching to a different medication
  • Adjusting the dose
  • Prescribing an additional medication to manage the flushing

Creating a Treatment Plan

When creating a treatment plan, healthcare providers should take into account the person’s:

  • General health
  • Medical history
  • The severity and frequency of the flushing
  • The person’s concerns and preferences

The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms of flushing and improve quality of life. 

Techniques to Manage When Your Face Turns Red

Facial redness or flushing can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are some general strategies to help prevent and manage when your face turns red:

  • Avoid triggers like alcohol or stressful situations.
  • Practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing or yoga.
  • Apply a cool cloth to your neck or face. Drinking a cool beverage can also help.
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Try drinking green tea, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eat in a slow and mindful way. This can help prevent the face from turning red from hot or spicy foods.
  • Regular exercise can improve circulation and may help reduce flushing over time.
  • Use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers.

If your facial redness is persistent or causing distress, it may be a symptom of a condition like rosacea. In this case, you should consult a healthcare provider or dermatologist.

Addiction Treatment Options

If you find your face is turning red due to substance use, treatment for addiction is often recommended. 

Treating addiction is a complex process. It involves a combination of different approaches. The goal of treatment is to help the person stop using the substance and avoid relapse.

Below are some addiction treatment options to help mitigate the risk of facial flushing.


Detox is often the first step in treating many types of substance use disorders. It involves clearing the body of drugs or alcohol. This process is managed under medical supervision to help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioral Counseling

Counseling is a key component of addiction treatment. It can be delivered in individual, group, or family settings. 

The goal is to:

  • Identify and change behaviors that lead to substance use
  • Improve life skills
  • support other treatments


Depending on the type of addiction, medication is often used to help:

Treatment for Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues

Many people with substance use disorders also have other mental health conditions. Treating these conditions can improve outcomes.

Self-Help and Support Groups

Many people find it helpful to participate in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. These groups provide a supportive environment and offer strategies for maintaining sobriety.

Residential Treatment

Some people may benefit from a structured treatment environment. These programs provide an environment free of substances and offer round-the-clock support.

Long-Term Follow-Up and Relapse Prevention

This is support to help maintain sobriety and manage relapses. It can include:

  • Ongoing counseling
  • Support groups
  • Follow-up appointments
  • Sober living

Harm Reduction

In some cases, when abstinence is not achievable, treatment might focus on reducing the harms associated with substance use. This can include strategies like needle exchange programs or supervised consumption sites.

Deciding on a Treatment Plan

The specific treatment plan will depend on:

  • The type of substance(s) used
  • Any co-occurring mental health disorders
  • The person’s social situation
  • Their motivation for change 

Recovery often involves setbacks. It may take multiple treatment attempts before a person is able to maintain long-term sobriety. Despite the challenges, recovery is possible with Choice House.

face turn red

Find Support with Choice House

If you’re looking for answers to “why does my face turn red?” when using substances, let Choice House help you. Choice House provides an integrated approach to addressing substance use disorders. 

With a deep understanding of the complexities of addiction, our professional team works to help you:

  • Develop healthy coping strategies
  • Understand the root causes of your substance use
  • Cultivate a sustainable path to recovery

What We Offer

For those experiencing physical symptoms of substance use such as facial flushing, our staff can provide education and strategies to manage these symptoms. 

Through a blend of medical, therapeutic, and supportive services, we not only help manage the immediate concerns related to substance use but also foster long-term wellness and sobriety. 

Contact Choice House Today

At Choice House, we’re committed to walking beside you on your journey toward wellness and sobriety. We provide a compassionate and healing environment for young men in recovery every step of the way. 

Get in touch with us today at 303.578.4978 or https://choicehousecolorado.com/contact/.

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Don’t let addiction or co-occurring mental health conditions keep you from leading the happy, healthy, and empowered life you deserve. Contact Choice House today and embrace recovery.

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