Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Medications

Brand Name Drugs to Avoid With Alcohol

Woman With Alcohol and Pills
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If you take medication of any sort, even over-the-counter or herbal remedies, drinking alcohol can have serious consequences. In some cases, alcohol can make the medications less effective, interfering with their absorption in the digestive tract. At other times, it can increase the bioavailability of a drug, raising blood concentration to toxic levels.

Whether or not the drug label warns against alcohol use, do not assume that the absence of a warning means that everything is okay.

If in doubt, contact your doctor and ask if drinking should be avoided with any of the drugs you are taking, especially chronic or prescription medications. In some cases, you may be advised to avoid alcohol for either four hours before or after a dose. In others, you may need to switch drugs or avoid drinking altogether.

Here a short list of brand-name drugs you should not take with alcohol.

Allergy, Cold, and Flu Medications

You should avoid drinking if taking allergy medications and any multi-symptom cold and flu formulation. Drowsiness and dizziness are common, interfering with your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. Because the combined use can impair judgment, there is also an increased risk of overdose. Avoiding using alcohol with:

  • Alavert
  • Allegra or Allegra-D
  • Benadryl
  • Clarinex
  • Claritin or Claritin-D
  • Dimetapp Cold and Allergy
  • Sudafed Sinus and Allergy
  • Triaminic Cold and Allergy
  • Tylenol Cold and Flu
  • Zyrtec

Angina Medications

Angina, also known as ischemic chest pain, is a type of pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Taking alcohol with the angina medication nitroglycerin can lead to a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), sudden changes in blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting. Avoid drinking when taking any brand of nitroglycerin including:

  • Nitrostat
  • Nitromist
  • Nitroquick
  • Nitrolingual
  • Nitro-Dur
  • Minitran
  • Nitro-Bid
  • Nitronol

Anti-Anxiety and Epilepsy Medications

The combined use of alcohol and anti-anxiety and epilepsy medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, slowed breathing, breathing restriction, impaired motor control, abnormal behavior, liver damage, and memory loss. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • Paxil
  • Valium
  • Xanax

Antibiotics

The combined use of alcohol and certain antibiotics can cause rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), sudden changes in blood pressure, stomach pain, vomiting, headache, flushing, and liver damage. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Flagyl
  • Nizoral
  • Nydrazid
  • Tindamax

Antidepressants

As a rule, the combined use of alcohol and antidepressants can cause drowsiness, dizziness, increased feelings of depression, or suicidal thoughts (especially in young people). Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Anafranil
  • Celexa
  • Effexor
  • Elavil
  • Lexapro
  • Luvox
  • Norpramin
  • Paxil
  • Serzone
  • Wellbutrin
  • Zoloft

Anti-Nausea Medications

The combined use of alcohol and anti-nausea medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired motor control. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Antivert
  • Atarax
  • Dramamine
  • Phenergan

Anti-Seizure Medications

The combined use of alcohol and anti-seizure medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and even the very seizures they are meant to prevent. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Dilantin
  • Klonopin

Arthritis Medications

The combined use of alcohol and certain arthritis medications can cause ulcers, stomach bleeding, and liver problems. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Celebrex
  • Naprosyn
  • Voltaren

Blood Thinners

Blood thinners are used to prevent the formation of blood clots. Occasional drinking may lead to internal bleeding. Heavier drinking can also cause bleeding or have the opposite effect, enhancing blood clot formation and increasing the risk of stroke or heart attacks. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Coumadin (warfarin)

Cholesterol Medications

The combined use of alcohol and certain cholesterol-lowering medications can cause flushing, itching, stomach bleeding, and liver damage. Avoid taking alcohol with

  • Advicor
  • Altocor
  • Crestor
  • Lipitor
  • Mevacor
  • Niaspan
  • Vytorin
  • Zocor

Cough Suppressants

As with cold and flu remedies, the combined use of alcohol and cough medications can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, and motor impairment. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Robitussin A-C or Robitussin Cough
  • Delsym

Diabetes Medications

The combined use of alcohol and certain diabetes medications can cause abnormally low blood sugar, nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat, and sudden changes in blood pressure. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Glucophage
  • Micronase
  • Orinase

Heartburn Medications

The combined use of alcohol and certain heartburn medications can cause rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), sudden changes in blood pressure, and enhanced alcohol effect. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Axid
  • Reglan
  • Tagamet
  • Zantac

High Blood Pressure Medications

The combined use of alcohol and hypertension medications can cause dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Accupril
  • Capozide
  • Cardura
  • Catapres
  • Cozaar
  • Hytrin
  • Lopressor HCT
  • Lotensin
  • Minipress
  • Vaseretic

Muscle Relaxants

The combined use of alcohol and muscle relaxants can cause drowsiness, dizziness, slowed or impaired breathing, impaired motor control, abnormal behavior, memory loss, and seizures. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Flexeril
  • Soma
  • Antivert
  • Atarax

Narcotic Pain Medications

As a rule, the combined use of alcohol and narcotic pain medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, slowed or impaired breathing, impaired motor control, abnormal behavior, memory loss, and an increased risk of overdose. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Darvocet–N
  • Demerol
  • Fiorinal
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin

Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

The combined use of alcohol and painkillers (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause stomach upset, stomach bleeding, stomach ulcers, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), and liver damage. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Advil
  • Aleve
  • Excedrin
  • Motrin
  • Tylenol
  • Any drug or multi-symptom remedy containing ibuprofen

Prostate Medications

The combined use of alcohol and prostate medications can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Cardura
  • Flomax
  • Minipress

Sleep Aids

As a rule, the combined use of alcohol and sleep medications should be avoided. It can cause slowed or impaired breathing, impaired motor control, abnormal behavior, memory loss, and fainting. Avoid taking alcohol with:

  • Ambien
  • Lunesta
  • Prosom
  • Restoril
  • Unisom
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