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Alcohol and Medicines—What You Need to Know

Many medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol whenever you get a new prescription or start a new over-the-counter medicine.

Here are some examples of problems caused by mixing alcohol with certain medicines.

  • If you take aspirin and drink, your risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding is increased.
  • When combined with alcohol, cold and allergy medicines (the label will say “antihistamines”) may make you feel very sleepy.
  • Alcohol used with large doses of acetaminophen, a common painkiller, may cause liver damage.
  • Some medicines, such as cough syrups and laxatives, have high alcohol content. If you drink at the same time, your alcohol level will go up.
  • Alcohol used with some sleeping pills, pain pills, or anxiety/depression medicine can be deadly.

Learn more about alcohol’s interactions with prescription drugs from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Published by Chrishun Brown

Communications Manager for the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center

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