You’ve probably seen it on nearly every medication you’ve ever taken, whether prescription or not – do not take with alcohol. Most people tend to ignore the warnings, especially now that every commercial for a medication is followed by a 30-second list of terrifying possible side effects. Is this really a danger? Do you have to stop drinking completely or just cut back?

The simple answer is, those warnings are on the label for a reason. Alcohol can make you drowsy or lightheaded, and when you’re taking a medication that has these side effects, you’re putting yourself in danger of falling or otherwise hurting yourself when your concentration slips. Some medicines that may make you drowsy or cause dizziness to include:

  • Allergy medicine, such as Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec
  • Cold medicine, including Tylenol Cold and Flu and Triaminic
  • Cough medicine, such as Robitussin
  • Certain medications for chest pain, like Isordil
  • Anxiety medications, including Ativan, Valium, and Xanax
  • Medicine for enlarged prostates, like Flomax and Cardura
  • Medication for high blood pressure, such as Norvasc, Accupril, and Prinivil
  • Mood stabilizers like Depakote and Eskalith (lithium)
  • Sleep aids, both herbal and prescription, including Ambien, Lunesta, and Unisom

Heavy drinking often leads to alcohol-related liver disease, which includes fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and even cancer. Some medications may cause stomach and liver damage that will only be compounded by alcohol use, including arthritis medications like Celebrex. ADHD medicines like Adderall and Ritalin can cause both drowsiness and liver problems. High cholesterol medications like Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor can also cause liver damage. Over the counter pain medications, including Advil, Aleve, Excedrin, and Tylenol all come with warnings about stomach or liver problems. Prescription medications like Percocet and Vicodin can cause drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk for overdose, and impaired motor control.

There is a long list of medicines for depression that interacts badly with alcohol. Nearly all antidepressants can cause drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk of overdose, and increased feelings of depression or hopelessness, all of which may be worsened with alcohol. Some examples of these medications are Lexapro, Zoloft, Cymbalta, and Prozac. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can cause serious heart problems when combined with alcohol. These include Marplan, Nardil, Emsam, and Parnate. Even drinking certain beers with these medications can cause dangerously high blood pressure. Bupropion, or Wellbutrin, can increase the effects of alcohol, and combining it with alcohol increases the risk of seizure.

Drinking alcohol with diabetes medication (such as Tolinase and Micronase) is not advised, because alcohol can cause a drop in blood glucose levels. Also, some medications, mainly cough syrups, already contain alcohol, and combining these with a hard drink can put you at risk for an overdose.

If you or a loved one need help to quit drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.



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