Can I drink alcohol with this medication?
This is one of the most common questions pharmacists get asked when patients are picking up prescription and over the counter medications. This question is one that pharmacists welcome as we consider patient safety and drug-alcohol interactions. Alcohol can affect how a medicine is absorbed, used within, broken down, and eliminated by your body. This means that alcohol can enhance the effects of other medications, and vice versa. It also means that alcohol use can lead to outcomes like treatment failure, organ damage, and increased side effects overall. Knowing what to expect with specific medications and alcohol use allows patients to make more informed decisions on whether to drink alcohol while taking certain medications.
The most common drug-alcohol interactions are drowsiness and dizziness. Basically, if a medicine can make you drowsy, then alcohol can worsen it. Avoid combining them (i.e. don’t use alcohol with NyQuil, or sleep aids like Ambien), and if you are unsure, ask your pharmacist or physician! Other possible side effects that can occur are highlighted here. It may not mean you cannot use medicines with alcohol, but you should ask your pharmacist or physician about what you should do/how to use alcohol safely. This may not be an all-encompassing list, so always ask your pharmacist or physician.
Prepared by Ramon Garza PharmD Candidate 2022
- Alcohol-medication interactions – alcohol alert no. 27-1995. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa27.htm. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- Glyburide-Ethanol Drug Interaction Results. Micromedex. https://www-micromedexsolutions-com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/micromedex2/librarian/PFDefaultActionId/evidencexpert.ShowDrugInteractionsResults. Accessed April 14, 2022.
- Harmful interactions. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/harmful-interactions-mixing-alcohol-with-medicines. Accessed April 14, 2022.
- Linnoila M, Mattila MJ, Kitchell BS. Drug interactions with alcohol. Drugs. 1979;18(4):299-311. doi:10.2165/00003495-197918040-00003