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:

  • Change how long medicines stay in your body. The level of medication might be too low or too high.
  • Change how medicines affect your body. Your medicine might not work as well. Or its effects might get stronger. That can be dangerous.

At the same time, medications can change the way your body handles alcohol. that could increase the effects of alcohol. Or it could have other effects.

When alcohol and medications interact, problems can range from minor to fatal.

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 11/10/2022

Related stories

Health e-newsletter

Get essential health info in your inbox.