Commonly Prescribed Medications that Adversely Interact with Alcohol

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Commonly Prescribed Medications that Adversely Interact with Alcohol

With the holidays right around the corner, we’ll be seeing a lot of alcohol at many of the celebrations and events.  Alcohol has been an accepted form of social interactions for centuries. Back in the early days of humanity’s obsession with getting inebriated, we didn’t have to worry about the adverse effects of alcohol mixed with medications.  Today, however, with a high percentage of people taking prescription meds, the effects of alcohol can be much more deadly than before. So, what are some of the side effects of mixing alcohol and medications?

Let’s take a look at some of the most widely prescribed medications and how alcohol can cause a significantly harmful interaction.

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Medications

Before you go out to begin celebrating the holidays, you may want to take a look at the following side effects of mixing alcohol and medications:


About one in ten people over the age of twelve are taking an antidepressant, according to the CDC.  These substances work by slowing down the central nervous system. They can impair thinking and alertness.  Alcohol is also a CNS (central nervous system) depressant. The combination of these two substances can make people feel extremely sleepy and unable to make a sound judgment. Combining these substances can also worsen the symptoms of depression.

Individuals who take MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) should avoid alcohol entirely to avoid a dangerous increase in blood pressure.

Cholesterol Medications:

About 32 million people take statin drugs such as Lipitor and Crestor which are the top-selling cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to Harvard Medical School.  The danger of combining Crestor or Lipitor and alcohol is significant. Both substances cause liver damage and the risk increases when alcohol and statins are combined. Since liver problems don’t often cause any noticeable symptoms, this can become a life-threatening situation.

Blood Pressure and Heart Medications:

About seven in ten adults use medication to lower their blood pressure, according to the CDC. Beta-blockers treat heart problems such as chest pain or abnormal heart rhythm.  Alcohol can decrease the effect of these drugs. Another commonly prescribed blood pressure medication is the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE inhibitor).  When alcohol is combined with this drug, the blood pressure can drop too much. This drop can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting that can result in physical harm.

Birth-Control Pills:

About 17 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 use birth-control pills.  When these women use alcohol they may feel intoxicated sooner than other women who don’t use an oral contraceptive.  Alcohol is not known to reduce the effectiveness of birth-control pills, but other side-effects are possible. If the individual drinks too much, she may forget to take her pill or fail to have her partner wear a condom.

Diabetes Medications:

More than 70 percent of 26 million diabetics use medication to control the condition.  The problem with using alcohol and diabetes medications is the possibility of dangerously low blood sugar levels.  The popular medication, Metformin, has been linked to the serious side-effect known as lactic acidosis. Some of the symptoms of lactic acidosis are dizziness, weakness, and nausea.

Acid Reflux and Ulcer Drugs:

There is no known direct reaction between alcohol and acid reflux inhibitors, however, alcohol can make heartburn worse.  Alcohol erodes the lining of the stomach and esophagus. It also increases the amount of stomach acid produced. These reactions can significantly impair the effectiveness of the medication and slow the ability of an ulcer to heal.


Whether prescription or over-the-counter, painkillers combined with alcohol can be deadly. Alcohol intensifies the effects of pain relievers. Opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin mixed with alcohol can result in impaired motor skills, inability to think clearly, and shallow breathing. It can also cause fatigue and low blood pressure.  Pain relievers that contain aspirin and ibuprofen can increase stomach irritation and alcohol will exacerbate this side-effect and possibly cause ulcers and stomach bleeding. Mixing alcohol and medications such as opiate painkillers can be fatal.

Sleeping Pills:

Anyone who takes sleeping pills should avoid alcohol altogether. Mixing alcohol with sleeping pills such as Lunesta or Ambien can increase the sedative effects.  This combination can cause severe drowsiness, dizziness, falls, injuries, and automobile accidents. Mixing these two substances can also result in severely low blood pressure and breathing problems.

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Getting Help for Alcohol or Prescription Drug Addiction in the United States

If you are one of the millions of Americans who struggle with alcohol abuse or prescription drug addiction, please contact us today.  Also, if you’re mixing alcohol and medications, we can help you with these problems as well. At A Forever Recovery, you will get the most up-to-date treatment available today.  Our team of specialists will work with you to identify the reasons for your substance abuse problems. With this approach, our clients heal mentally, physically, and spiritually for lasting recovery.


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  • – Mixing Alcohol with Medicines

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