Mixing Meds and Alcohol: Avoiding Dangerous Interactions in Colorado

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Updated 07/18/2023

Using alcohol with other medications is something that requires careful consideration because many medications interact with alcohol in ways that can be dangerous. It is important to know which medications interact with alcohol so that you can stay safe by avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption when taking those medications.

Symptoms of Alcohol and Medication Interaction

The way alcohol can interact with medications produces different symptoms depending on what medications are mixed with the alcohol and how much of each is consumed. Some of the common symptoms of dangerous interactions include nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, or loss of coordination. Taking medications with alcohol can also put you at risk for internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing.

Alcohol can make a medication not work as well, not work at all, or it could make the medication harmful or toxic to your body. When medications with similar effects to alcohol are taken while drinking, it multiplies the effect of both, which can have dangerous effects on your body.

Typically, a medication’s label will warn users if they should avoid alcohol while taking the medication, and this is the case whether it is a prescription medication or available over the counter. Here are some common medications that interact with alcohol.

  • Allergy medications including Alavert, Claritin, Benadryl, Sudafed, Zyrtec, and others as well as cough suppressants like dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, and codeine can cause increased drowsiness and dizziness as well as an increased risk of overdose.
  • Isordil, a medication for angina and coronary heart disease, can cause rapid heartbeat, sudden changes in blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting.
  • Anxiety and epilepsy medications Ativan, Klonopin, Paxil, Valium, and Xanax can cause drowsiness, dizziness; increased risk for overdose; slowed or difficulty breathing; impaired motor control; unusual behavior; and memory problems.
  • Arthritis medicines like Celebrex, Naprosyn, and Voltaren can cause ulcers, stomach bleeding, and liver damage.
  • Coumadin, also known as warfarin, is a blood thinner that can interact with alcohol to cause internal bleeding, or with very heavy drinking, can cause blood clots, strokes, or heart attacks.
  • A large number of anti-depressant medications like Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac, and Abilify can cause drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk for overdose, increased feelings of depression or hopelessness, impaired motor control, increased alcohol effect, and liver damage. This list is very lengthy; if you are taking any kind of anti-depressant, you should investigate whether it has any interaction with alcohol.
  • Certain anti-depressants classified as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can cause very high blood pressure and heart-related side effects, especially when the alcohol consumed is beer or red wine.
  • Diabetes medications can interact with alcohol by lowering blood sugar too much, resulting in nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat, and sudden changes in blood pressure.
  • Blood pressure medications can cause heart arrhythmias along with dizziness, drowsiness, and fainting.
  • Cholesterol medications can cause liver damage and stomach bleeding when alcohol is also consumed.
  • Some antibiotics including azithromycin can cause fast heartbeat, vomiting and stomach pain, headache and liver damage.
  • Even basic OTC pain medications like Advil, Aleve, and Tylenol interact with alcohol to cause liver damage, bleeding, and ulcers in some users.
  • Narcotic painkillers and sleep medications like Ambien can cause depressed breathing, impaired motor control, and memory problems with alcohol use.

Over 100 commonly used medications interact with alcohol and can cause dangerous and life-threatening symptoms. If you abuse alcohol, getting help can be a life-or-death situation when other medications are involved. Contact us at Recovery Village at Palmer Lake for Colorado drug rehab services that can treat alcohol abuse and possibly save a life.

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