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Alcohol & Medicines

There are many medicines, both prescribed and bought over the counter, which do not mix well with alcohol.

Below is a rough guide to some of those medicines.

For a more detailed document click here

Medicines referred to here are both prescribed and medicines that can be purchased over the counter either in a pharmacy or shops and supermarkets.

Drinking alcohol is never recommended when taking these medicines. Alcohol use is often associated with a less stable lifestyle which in turn can lead to intoxication.  This can mean you forget that important time to take your medication. Poor eating habits and sleepless, or late, nights can also impact on any medicines you are using.

If in any doubt about the interaction of alcohol with your medicine please ask your pharmacist or doctor or contact NHS24 ,on: 08454 242424

Any tranquiliser, e.g. Valium (Diazepam), Librium, Temazepam, Nitrazepam, Lorazepam etc, and alcohol do not mix well.  In fact they mix very badly with the combination resulting in many fatal overdoses being recorded in Scotland every year.  As both alcohol and tranquilisers are downers, or depressant drugs, their combination, as well as making you unpleasantly drowsy, can often end in overdose.

Cough Medicines
Antihistamine cough medicines, painkillers, sleeping aids, and any other drugs that cause drowsiness do not like alcohol. Drinking not only negates the effect of the drugs but often makes them react in a negative way often leaving the user with headaches and a confused state as well as that unpleasant drowsy feeling.

Drinking alcohol and using aspirin can cause bleeding in the stomach area which often ends in stomach ulcers.

Opiates Codeine, DF118, Morphine, Methadone, Diconal, etc.  Alcohol and opiates do not mix well and the chances of an overdose are extremely high.  The majority of deaths in Scotland every year involving Methadone or heroin also had alcohol in their bodies. 

The following drugs should not be mixed with alcohol.

Drugs for epilepsy: The effectiveness of these drugs can be reduced if mixed with alcohol and therefore seizures may not be controlled. Alcohol itself at certain levels can induce seizures.  Mixing alcohol and anti-epileptic drugs can also cause unpleasant drowsiness.

Drugs for rheumatism:  This can cause stomach upsets when mixed with alcohol.

Drugs for diabetes: Alcohol in the bloodstream reduces the sugar level similar to the diabetic drugs. Using alcohol with the drugs can cause headaches, skin flushes and in extreme cases lead to coma.

Drugs for high blood pressure: Dizziness and faintness can occur, as well as reducing the effectiveness of these drugs if they are mixed with alcohol.

Anti-coagulant drugs:  Not recommended to use alcohol as serious internal bleeding may occur.

Drugs for depression: Alcohol is a depressive type drug itself therefore when alcohol is used alongside drugs such as anti-depressants the depression can actually increase.

Drugs for anxiety: Anti-anxiety drugs and alcohol use can cause unpleasant drowsiness.

Travel sickness: When used with alcohol the combination can cause an unpleasant drowsiness as well as reducing their effect, often resulting in the user being sick.

General infections: Alcohol and antibiotics generally do not go together and as well as reducing their effectiveness can also result in headaches.  However there can be instances of sensible drinking and the use of certain antibiotics.

Remember that mixing alcohol with drugs will also affect your driving, working and parenting abilities.