Consuming alcohol while taking any medication is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. This includes prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and recreational drugs. Drinking alcohol with medication increases the risks of health complications and directly affects the liver, heart, and breathing.

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Medication

While many people are aware of warnings regarding drug interactions with alcohol, not everyone takes it seriously. Because countless medications can potentially lead to negative consequences when consumed with alcohol, it is important to consult your doctor before mixing alcohol and medication, regardless of the type. Even if the medication you are taking does not have a warning label specifically about alcohol, it does not necessarily mean that it is safe to consume together.

Whether the medication is prescription, over-the-counter, or even an herbal remedy, there are potential risks of adverse effects when alcohol is introduced. The severity of these reactions can range from simply to decreasing the effectiveness of the medication to causing toxic damage to the body. Some of the most common symptoms and side effects observed include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Liver damage
  • Heart problems
  • Internal bleeding
  • Depression
  • Impaired breathing

Medication That Cannot Be Mixed with Alcohol

There are countless medications that can produce different adverse reactions. Some common groups of medications that should not be mixed with alcohol include:

  1. Allergy, cold, and flu medications
    Medications like Benadryl, Allegra, and Zyrtec when mixed with alcohol can significantly impair a person. In addition to drowsiness and dizziness, a person’s ability to drive or operate heavy machinery is heavily impaired, increasing the risk for accidents to occur. This combination can also increase the likelihood of an overdose occurring.
  2. Anti-anxiety and epilepsy medications: Combining alcohol with these medications can produce dangerous side effects. Drowsiness, breathing restrictions, impaired motor control, liver damage, and memory loss can all occur.
  3. Antibiotics
    Consuming alcohol while on antibiotics can make the healing process take longer than it normally would. Common side effects experienced with this combination include stomach pain, vomiting, headache, liver damage, and tachycardia.
  4. Anti-depressants
    Alcohol is a depressant and can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions. When combined with anti-depressants, people can experience dizziness, increased feelings of depression, and suicidal thoughts.
  5. Arthritis medications
    Consuming alcohol with arthritis medications can cause risky side effects. Ulcers, liver problems, and stomach bleeding can occur.
  6. Blood thinners
    Drinking while using blood thinners can actually produce the opposite effect of what the medication is designed to do. Internal bleeding and blood clots, which increase the risk for heart attack or stroke, can be caused by this combination.
  7. Cholesterol medications
    Combining cholesterol medications with alcohol can cause stomach bleeding and liver damage.
  8. High blood pressure medication
    When alcohol and high blood pressure medications are consumed together, they can cause dizziness, fainting, irregular heartbeat, and drowsiness.
  9. Narcotic painkillers
    Painkillers come with their own set of dangerous side effects if taken in any way other than as they are prescribed, but when combined with alcohol, the outcomes can be dangerous. Drowsiness, dizziness, slowed breathing, impaired motor function, memory loss, and an increased risk overdose can occur.
  10. Sleep aids
    Alcohol combined with sleep aids can be deadly. The combination can cause impaired motor control, slowed breathing, memory loss, and fainting.
  11. Muscle relaxers
    Using alcohol and muscle relaxers can have life-threatening consequences. In addition to drowsiness, dizziness, and memory loss, it can cause seizures, impaired breathing, abnormal behavior, and impaired motor function.
  12. Over-the-counter pain medications
    Medications that can be easily purchased in any store can also have severe side effects when used with alcohol. Stomach bleeding, ulcers, liver damage, and tachycardia are known to occur.

Be Safe When Taking Medication and Drinking Alcohol

Most medications are safe and effective when taken as prescribed and they will usually have a warning label outlining potential risks when mixed with alcohol. Even if it is not explicitly documented on the label, you should avoid consuming alcohol with medication as a general rule of thumb. There are a number of adverse effects that may unexpectedly occur, increasing the risk for life-threatening side effects and dangerous conditions. Rather than taking the risk, check in with your doctor of pharmacist about alcohol consumption with medications you are taking and do not combine them unless you are explicitly told it is safe.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.


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