Sober living

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about the types of medication you are taking and how they interact with alcohol. If you’re taking medication and you don’t know how it reacts to alcohol, don’t consume alcohol. Combining oxycodone with alcohol can have unwanted, unpredictable, and dangerous consequences. Beyond the examples noted above, alcohol has the potential to interact negatively with many other commonly prescribed medications. The resources below can help alert you and your patients to important potential risks. When you recommend or prescribe a medication that can interact with alcohol, this scenario presents a natural opening to review or inquire about a patient’s alcohol intake.

In some cases, a fatal overdose can occur if sleep aids are mixed with alcohol because both substances affect the body’s central nervous system (which controls your breathing, heart rate, and brain function). The effects of mixing alcohol with medication also depend on certain individual factors. For example, women can experience the effects of mixing alcohol and medications more severely than men because of differences in metabolism. Additionally, drinking alcohol can also make the side effects of a medication worse or even cause new symptoms.

Cold or Allergy Medications

Whether the pain medication is OTC or a prescription drug, you should talk to your healthcare provider before drinking alcohol. Combining alcohol with any type of pain medication can cause dangerous side effects. Close to 10% of the U.S. population regularly uses medications or supplements to try to fall asleep or stay asleep. These types of medications should never be used when you have alcohol in your system. Sleep aids and alcohol both have sedating effects and can amplify each other. Side effects of mixing alcohol with sleep aids may include difficulty breathing, memory problems, strange behavior, dizziness, and impaired motor control.

Oxycodone and other opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and act to partially or fully suppress pain and create feelings of euphoria for the user. For this reason, oxycodone is federally classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning its use may potentially lead to addiction as well as severe psychological or physical dependence. This slow-acting medication is released into the bloodstream over time, helping treat several types of moderate to severe pain. According to the CDC, pills and alcohol effects alcohol was involved in 22% of deaths caused by prescription opioids and 18% of emergency department visits related to the misuse of prescription opioids in the United States in 2010. The risk of harm increases with the amount of alcohol consumed, but for people who use opioids, there is no safe level of alcohol to consume. If a person takes alcohol in combination with opioid medications, their breathing rate may become so depressed that their brain does not receive enough oxygen.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

One of the deadliest combinations is alcohol and narcotic pain medications. On their own, opioids can cause drowsiness, dizziness, slowed or impaired breathing, impaired motor control, abnormal behavior, and memory loss. Using alcohol with medications used to treat heartburn, both prescription and over-the-counter, can cause tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and sudden changes in blood pressure.

pills and alcohol effects

The more alcohol a patient consumes, the greater the risk for alcohol and medication interactions. Universal screening, careful prescribing choices, and patient education can help minimize the risks of combining alcohol with certain medications. According to the researchers, mixing alcohol with other drugs can cause serious side effects, including an increased risk of dependency and withdrawal, toxicity, overdose, organ damage, and death.


And remember, alcohol and medicines can have harmful interactions even if they are separated and taken at different times of the day. It is known that certain over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, dietary supplements, and herbal medicines can cause important interactions. It’s important to check for alcohol interactions with these groups just as you would with any other medication. Also, be sure to review your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol or ethanol. Caffeine-fueled energy drinks can be a popular mix among college students.

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The regular tablet and solution are taken usually with or without food every 4 to 6 hours as needed. The extended-release tablet and extended-release capsule should be taken once a day. Take the extended-release tablet and the extended-release capsule at about the same time of day every day. If you are taking the extended-release tablet or extended-release capsule, you should take it consistently, either always with or always without food.

Harmful Interactions

More intense side effects mean you might be more impaired after having one drink than you would typically be. If you’re drinking excessively or regularly, you are increasing the risk of adverse medication reactions. The combination of medication and alcohol can lead to serious health consequences, including overdose and even death. Your pharmacist or other health care provider can help you determine which medications interact harmfully with alcohol.

  • A study by Ekors and colleagues noted that over 80% of people worldwide use some type of supplement.
  • More intense side effects mean you might be more impaired after having one drink than you would typically be.
  • It’s important to check for alcohol interactions with these groups just as you would with any other medication.
  • You can also experience drowsiness, dizziness, impaired motor control and coordination, difficulty breathing, strange behaviors, and heart or liver damage.
  • Alcohol and medication can have a harmful interaction even if they’re taken at different times.