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Medications and Alcohol Don't Mix

Sara Bellum
November 27, 2012

If you’re taking any medications—either those prescribed by a doctor or over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine—it’s not a good idea to drink alcohol. Often, the medication label will warn you not to—because of the possible dangerous side effects. Read the label! You’ll find lots of good info, like:

  • The medication’s active ingredients, including ingredient amounts in each dose
  • The medication’s purpose and uses
  • Dosage instructions—when and how to take it
  • Specific warnings about interactions (with alcohol and other drugs)
  • Activities to avoid
  • The medication’s inactive ingredients (important to help people avoid an allergic reaction)

Because the drug label information can be confusing, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what side effects you might experience and not to mix medications and alcohol. Here’s what can happen:

  • Drinking alcohol while ibuprofen (Motrin) is in your system could cause stomach upset, stomach bleeding, and even liver damage.
  • If you’re taking a sleep medication like Ambien, alcohol could cause increased drowsiness, difficulty breathing, and memory problems.
  • Mixing caffeine and energy drinks with alcohol is also a bad idea since their opposite effects (alcohol is a depressant, caffeine a stimulant) can fool you into drinking more than your body can handle.

Here is a list of many common medications and what can happen if the user drinks alcohol while taking them. Some of them may surprise you.

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