Mixing Medications with Alcohol: A Comprehensive Guide Ambrosia Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center
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Mixing Medications with Alcohol Which Interactions are Dangerous?

Forty-four percent of people in the US take at least one prescription medication every day. When you consider the fact that alcohol is the most popular psychoactive drug in America, it’s no surprise that many Americans are drinking with their daily medications. Not all medicines react to alcohol, but some lead to dangerous and even deadly interactions. According to the FDA, combining these two substances can drastically change how medications work in the body. Below are some of the most common medicines on the market and what happens if you drink while taking them.

Mixing Doctor's Prescriptions and Alcohol

Prozac and Alcohol

Prozac, known by its generic name fluoxetine, is an antidepressant used to treat major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder. As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Prozac works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin (a brain chemical) back into the brain. With more serotonin available, you feel less depressed and maintain a more stable mood.

Most medical professionals advise their patients to limit their alcohol intake while taking Prozac because it can exacerbate some of the side effects. For instance, people who get drowsy while taking Prozac may feel even more sluggish after consuming alcohol. This can present a danger behind the wheel or any other situation that requires you to be attentive.

Drinking while on Prozac can also worsen depression symptoms. Alcohol is in the depressant category of drugs, meaning it increases sleepiness and lethargy, both common symptoms of major depressive disorder.

Zoloft and Alcohol

Zoloft is a brand name of sertraline, a prescription antidepressant. It is an SSRI used for the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and other anxiety-related illnesses. Zoloft works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a better, more consistent mood.

Alcohol magnifies the underlying symptoms of depression that Zoloft is intended to treat. Taking Zoloft with alcohol can result in the worsening of depression symptoms, including suicidal thoughts. One may also experience bouts of nausea, dizziness, extreme anxiety, impaired coordination, headaches and digestive problems.

Alcohol lessens the effects of Zoloft on depressive disorders and can even increase its side effects. Consuming alcohol with sertraline isn’t fatal, but most doctors would advise against it.

lexapro and alcohol

Lexapro is the brand name of escitalopram, an SSRI designed to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Drinking while taking Lexapro isn’t advised because it can make the side effects of the medication worse and cause it to be less effective at treating depression symptoms. In some instances, consuming liquor can trigger other unwanted effects like increased anxiety, drowsiness and emotional instability. Both alcohol and Lexapro alter the way the brain works and should be handled with care.

Wellbutrin and Alcohol

What happens when you mix Wellbutrin and alcohol?
Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion, a drug used to treat major depressive disorder and alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Bupropion is also marketed under the name Zyban as an aid for quitting smoking.

When it comes to taking bupropion with alcohol, seizures are the biggest concern. Seizures are a side-effect of both alcohol and Wellbutrin, so combining the two can put you at an even higher risk for an incident.

Drinking while taking this medication can also make the effects of alcohol more extreme. Examples of these side effects are blackouts, paranoia, blurred vision and fatigue. According to the NIAAA, drinking with Wellbutrin can lead to increased feelings of hopelessness. It is not advisable to drink alcohol while taking Bupropion (Wellbutrin), as it could lead to serious health risks.

Amoxicillin and Alcohol

Amoxicillin is an extremely popular penicillin-derived antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. It doesn’t pose the same dangers as other antibiotics when taken with alcohol, but doctors still recommend limiting drinking while taking this medication.

Like other antibiotics, alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of amoxicillin, leading to a rebound of bacterial growth, chest pains, severe nausea and vomiting. Irregular heartbeat may necessitate immediate medical attention. Vomiting may also cause dehydration that leads to a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Avoid drinking when taking amoxicillin as it may prolong your body’s ability to fight the infection.

Metronidazole and Alcohol

Metronidazole, also known as Metro and Flagyl, is used to treat bacterial and parasitic infections. It can be used alone or combined with other antibiotics to treat endocarditis, pelvic inflammatory infections and genitourinary diseases.

Doctors recommend refraining from drinking alcohol while taking metronidazole. When combined, alcohol and metronidazole can cause flushing, upset stomach, increased heart rate and shortness of breath. Anyone who takes metronidazole should wait at least 48 hours after their last dose before consuming alcohol to avoid an adverse reaction.

Augmentin and Alcohol

Augmentin is the brand name for the antibiotic co-amoxiclav. It is a combination antibiotic (amoxicillin and clavulanic acid) that is used to treat several bacterial infections such as sinusitis, urinary tract infections, ear infections and pneumonia.

Alcohol should always be avoided while taking Augmentin. The combination of the two can increase or worsen side effects including upset stomach, vomiting and fatigue. It also reduces drug effectiveness, which increases the chance for a reoccurrence of the infection.

Ibuprofen and Alcohol

What happens when you mix ibuprofen and alcohol?
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug. It is one of the most popular over the counter medications used to treat fevers, pain and inflammation. It is also sold under the brand names Advil, Motrin and Midol.

It is generally safe to consume alcohol in moderation when taking ibuprofen. However, one of the side-effects of ibuprofen is irritation of the lining of the stomach. Since alcohol has a similar effect, those who have pre-existing stomach issues shouldn’t drink while taking this medication. Mixing of alcohol and ibuprofen could also increase your risk of kidney disease.

However, consuming large amounts of alcohol with ibuprofen poses serious health risks. These risks include decreased alertness, drowsiness, racing heart rate, kidney damage and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Benadryl and Alcohol

Diphenhydramine, more commonly known as Benadryl, is an antihistamine used to treat seasonal allergies and allergic reactions. It is sometimes used off-label to treat insomnia. Alcohol increases the depressant effects of Benadryl on the central nervous system. Both alcohol and Benadryl can cause drowsiness and decreased alertness, which poses a significant risk while driving. Large amounts of the two substances in the body can even cause an individual to lose consciousness temporarily.

Since alcohol and Benadryl are both depressants that slow down the central nervous system, you shouldn’t take them together. The risk of injury is extremely high due to the combination drowsiness, poor coordination and delayed reaction time.

Adderall and Alcohol

Adderall is an amphetamine that increases alertness and focus. It is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Some people use stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin as a recreational drug for the euphoric effects. Stimulants are a popular choice among drinkers who use them to increase wakefulness so they can stay up later and drink more. However, mixing these substances puts the user at risk for alcohol poisoning or overdose.

Adderall and similar attention-deficit medications are extremely popular among students as a study drug that provides a quick burst of energy and focus. On college campuses where binge drinking is prevalent, the two are sometimes consumed together, which is especially dangerous. Mixing these substances leads to serious health consequences, including cardiovascular problems, seizures and hallucinations.

Gabapentin and Alcohol

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat neuropathic pain and restless leg syndrome. It is sold under various brand names, most notably Neurontin.

On its own, Gabapentin has a low overdose risk. Alcohol increases the side effects of Gabapentin, potentially causing changes in mood, thinking and behavior. Mixing these two substances can, however, cause slowed breathing, which in turn slows down the heart. There is also a potential for loss of consciousness, which is extremely dangerous, especially during activities that require focus and alertness (Drugs.com).

Taking medications under the influence of alcohol can have a range of adverse effects. If you can’t stop drinking and you’re experiencing side-effects from your medication, give us a call at (888) 492-1633. We’re here to help.

Avoid Food-Drug Interactions. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Harmful Interactions: mixing alcohol with medicines. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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