Skip to main content

Health library

Back to health library

Alcohol and medication shouldn't mix

Open pill bottles tipped over.

Many medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, can interact with alcohol.

If you take prescription or nonprescription medicine and you drink alcohol, you could be putting your health at risk.

Some prescription medications can produce unwanted effects when mixed with alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Alcohol can even be dangerous when combined with nonprescription medicines, such as aspirin, acetaminophen and allergy medications.

Alcohol can also prevent some medicines from working effectively, so you won't receive the full benefits. Sometimes, though, alcohol does just the opposite and increases a medication's effects to a dangerous degree.

Problems range from minor to fatal. It's important to understand when, if and how alcohol and medicines can be mixed.

Five factors determine how alcohol affects you and your medicines:

  • What medicine(s) you take.
  • The amount of medicine you take.
  • The amount of alcohol you drink.
  • When you take the medicine and when you drink the alcohol.
  • How your body processes medicines.

The NIAAA recommends that you talk to your doctor about alcohol and drug interactions.

Ask if you should avoid alcohol. Find out what could happen if you mix your medicines and alcohol. And don't skip doses of prescribed medication.

Reviewed 11/30/2021

Related stories