Author: John Carter

Alcohol use disorder Diagnosis and treatment

Alcohol and Pills

So, mixing the two together increases the likelihood of overdose on either substance. If you lie about the amount of alcohol you consume on a regular basis, your doctor can’t accurately judge the risks and benefits of prescribing a particular medication. Alcohol can make some medications less effective by interfering with how they are absorbed in the digestive tract. In some cases, alcohol increases the bioavailability of a drug, which can raise the concentration of the medication in your blood to toxic levels. Don’t stop taking an antidepressant or other medication just so that you can drink.

Alcohol and Pills

Alcohol and cough syrup can increase each other’s side effects like drowsiness. For example, the cough and cold medicine Vick’s NyQuil Liquid contains 10% alcohol and can lead to a significant interaction. NyQuil LiquiCaps and Alcohol-Free NyQuil Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid do not contain alcohol. This pamphlet lists medications that can cause harm when taken with alcohol and describes the effects that can result.

Examples of Potentially Deadly Interactions

Older adults (especially those who take more than one medication) are also more likely to experience problems, as the ability to clear both alcohol and drugs from the body is reduced with age. Combining alcohol with Concerta, Ritalin, or Focalin can worsen concentration. Adderall, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse can increase a person’s risk for heart problems. When combined with alcohol, medications for attention and concentration disorders can make a person dizzy and sleepy. Since males and females have differences in body chemistry, they can absorb and metabolize alcohol at different rates. After drinking the same amount, females tend to have higher blood alcohol levels than their male counterparts.

It can also make your medication less effective or change how you feel the effects of alcohol. Beware that some medications, like laxatives and cough syrups, may contain some alcohol themselves, too. Alcohol is not a substance to take lightly when it comes to drug interactions. You are probably familiar with the drug interaction warning labels that appear each time you pick up your prescription bottle.

  1. For example, OTC painkillers (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause a range of symptoms from gastrointestinal upset to bleeding and ulcers in the stomach to tachycardia (racing heart).
  2. The dangers of mixing alcohol with prescription drugs are well known.
  3. Treatment for alcohol use disorder can vary, depending on your needs.
  4. You are probably familiar with the drug interaction warning labels that appear each time you pick up your prescription bottle.
  5. Medications prescribed to lower cholesterol levels (known as statins) can cause flushing, itching, stomach bleeding, and liver damage.

Combining alcohol with cholesterol medications can cause liver damage, flushing and itching, and stomach bleeding. When paired with alcohol, muscle relaxers can also cause drowsiness and dizziness. Impaired motor control, unusual behavior, and memory problems are also observed. Always read the label and package insert of any medication you are taking, whether it has been prescribed by your doctor or purchased over-the-counter. If you are not sure if it is safe to drink alcohol while you are taking medication, call a local pharmacy or talk to your doctor about the potential interactions. Alcohol can change how your body breaks down and absorbs medications.

Other Medication Interactions

Most antidepressants require taking a consistent, daily dose to maintain a constant level in your system and work as intended. Stopping and starting your medications can make your depression worse. According to the CDC, about two-thirds of American adults over age 18 at least occasionally use alcohol. Of these, about 51% are current regular drinkers (defined as at least 12 drinks in the past year), and about 13% are infrequent drinkers (defined as up to 11 drinks in the past year). The easiest way to lookup drug information, identify pills, check interactions and set up your own personal medication records. Alcohol and medicines can interact harmfully even if they are not taken at the same time.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances. If you have an injury or medical condition that causes pain or spasms in your muscles, you might be given medications to relax them. Muscle relaxants are commonly used to treat back and neck pain, as well as certain kinds of headaches. Stimulants and sedatives (such as alcohol) mask each other’s effects.

Alcohol and Pills

Other side effects of mixing alcohol and ADHD medications together include dizziness, impaired concentration, liver damage, and heart problems. It’s worth being cautious when it comes to mixing alcohol and medications. Some medications pose more serious risks than others, with symptoms ranging from drowsiness and dizziness to liver damage, slowed breathing, and possibly death. Close to 10% of the U.S. population regularly uses medications or supplements to try to fall asleep or stay asleep. These types of medications should never be used when you have alcohol in your system.

The Do Not Drink Alcohol label should be taken seriously to avoid the possibility of dangerous, or even deadly, drug interactions. Some medications—including many popular painkillers and cough, cold, and allergy remedies—contain more than one ingredient that can react with alcohol. Read the label on the medication bottle to find out exactly what ingredients a medicine contains. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions about how alcohol might interact with a drug you are taking. When you recommend or prescribe a medication that can interact with alcohol, this scenario presents a natural opening to review or inquire about a patient’s alcohol intake.

About Mayo Clinic

Combining alcohol with medications used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) can cause dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). The following list of medications that shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol isn’t exhaustive. You should always read the label of any medication and check with a doctor to be sure you are safely taking a medication. Here is a short list of the most common prescription and OTC drugs that can pose a risk to your health if mixed with alcohol, as well as what can happen if the substances are combined.

When the interaction between the substances goes the other way, certain drugs can change how your body responds to an alcoholic beverage. For example, some OTC products can make the effects of alcohol (such as drowsiness) more intense. More intense side effects mean you might be more impaired after having one drink than you would typically be. The combination of alcohol and certain medications can cause negative interactions, adverse reactions, and even overdose and death. This can happen with prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and even supplements or herbal remedies.

However, even medications that don’t require a prescription can be unsafe when mixed with alcohol. For example, OTC painkillers (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause a range of symptoms from gastrointestinal upset to bleeding and ulcers in the stomach to tachycardia (racing heart). Nearly a third of all American adults take medications to lower their cholesterol.

Which Medications Can You Not Drink Alcohol With?

Alcohol and medication side effects may be especially prevalent in women. In fact, women may be at a greater risk of side effects due to alcohol and drug interactions than men. Women have a lower percent of body water and greater percent of body fat. Because of this, they do not metabolize alcohol as efficiently, putting them at greater risk for high blood alcohol levels after drinking the same amount of alcohol as a man. Add a drug, for example a drug that causes drowsiness or sedation to the mix, and the risk for dangerous side effects can skyrocket. Even though some research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption is heart healthy, certain medications and alcohol have the capacity to interfere with your successful treatment.