Alcohol And Medications: All You Need To Know

alcohol medications

Have you ever wondered what could probably go wrong when you mix alcohol with your medications? You probably recall a scene from a movie where you saw someone wash down some pills with a glass of Whiskey. 

While we will look at the dangers of alcohol interactions with certain medications, we should start by saying that it is advisable to ask your doctor or a pharmacist if it is safe to drink while on medication.  Although it may have a mild effect with some drugs, mixing alcohol with certain pills can have dangerous consequences.

Why Alcohol And Medication Can Be A Dangerous Mix

If you get a strong warning against drinking while using medications, believe it is for the right reason. 

alcohol medications

Alcohol is known for having a sedative effect on the body. That is why it is sometimes recommended to induce sleep and for relaxing. When combined with a drug that also has a sedative effect such as antidepressants and antihistamine, it can lead to extreme drowsiness and lack of coordination which may make it difficult for a person to function properly or even wake. 

Some drugs can affect the body’s metabolism and interfere with how alcohol is broken down in the body thus leaving you with a higher than normal blood alcohol level which can result in changes in liver function. It can greatly upset the body system and lead to side effects or undermine the effectiveness of the drug.

A host of other factors can affect how medications interact with alcohol such as body weight, lifestyle and genetics. That is why consulting with a medical professional is your best choice.

When To Stay Away From Alcohol

As mentioned earlier, when alcohol interacts with certain medications, it can lead to terrible consequences. Some of those medications notorious for being incompatible with alcohol include;

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antihistamines
  • Floxetine

People on long-term medications should also stay away from alcohol as this may reduce the effectiveness of their current medication or even cause terrible side effects. Older people who rely on certain medications to survive are particularly vulnerable. For example, medications used to treat high blood pressure such as Ramipril can have serious side effects when mixed with alcohol. 

Caution should also be taken when using long-term medications for conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.

Antibiotics such as linezolid, doxycycline, metronidazole and tinidazole have been confirmed to interfere with the breakdown of alcohol and lead to serious side effects such as vomiting and increased heart rate. 

While drinking alcohol with light painkillers might not cause harm, the practice should be avoided with painkillers that are prescribed such as codeine and tramadol. 

Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Medications

As has been emphasized in this article, the interaction between alcohol and medications can have adverse effects such as making the medication useless or even toxic to the body. It can also lead to serious complications such as;

  • Liver damage
  • Heart Problem
  • Internal bleeding
  • Impaired breathing
  • Depression

To avoid this, it is advisable to observe warning labels on the packaging of medications and constantly consult with your doctor or pharmacist.


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