Mixing Medications With Alcohol? Harmful Interactions by NIH


Since April of 2020 we have experienced a unique set of circumstances as relates to our physical and mental health. With the pandemic came physical distancing and isolation: a sense of being on our own to handle our problems. And with isolation came an increase in both the use of telehealth and the purchase of alcohol.


According to a new report from market research firm IWSR, which provides insights on the global alcoholic beverage market, online sales of alcohol in the U.S. are expected to grow by more than 80% this year.

Forbes, December 1, 2020


Mixing Medication & Alcohol?

It will be a while before we truly understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our overall well-being. But there has developed an understandable fear of entering a hospital/clinic for “elective surgery” or procedures that can be postponed. Likewise, a real need for health advice and diagnosis via telehealth. (Often with a practitioner who knows little of one’s mental or physical health history.)


As to the increase in alcohol sales? Folks since the beginning of time have used psychoactive drugs to quell anxiety. And the pandemic has caused a steep rise in mental health and substance use disorders. So, let’s put this all together. Isolation, postponement of needed procedures, mental health and substance use problems, prescribed and over-the-counter medications used or misused, and alcohol delivery. Certainly there is a higher risk of “harmful interactions” these days.


NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The NIH has published a pamphlet on the dangers of mixing medications with alcohol. This includes a list of commonly used medicines that interact with alcohol and their possible reactions if taken together.


Medications typically are safe and effective when used appropriately… Mixing alcohol and medicines puts you at risk for dangerous reactions. Protect yourself by avoiding alcohol if you are taking a medication and don’t know its effect… Your pharmacist or other health care provider can help you determine which medications interact harmfully with alcohol.

Harmful Interactions, NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


Mixing medications and alcohol

Some medications have more than one ingredient that can react to alcohol!


Mixing Medication & Alcohol – Did you Know?

  1. Alcohol can interact badly with medication even if it is not taken at the same time.
  2. Some medicines contain alcohol, cough syrup and laxatives contain up to 10%!
  3. Some medications have more than one ingredient that can react to alcohol.
  4. Older people are at greater risk, as aging reduces the body’s ability to break down alcohol. Also, they are more likely to take multiple medications.
  5. Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related damage, so they are also at greater risk when mixing medications.


For Harmful Interactions click below:

Includes lists of common medications (over-the-counter and prescribed) that can cause harm when taken with alcohol and their effects.



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