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Alcohol Interactions With Medicines

October 22, 2021
3-5
 min
Glass of alcohol with a vial of medication knocked over in the foreground. Pills have spilled out across the table.

Many medicines can be affected by alcohol.  This includes prescription, non-prescription and natural or herbal medicines.
 

Some medicines that you purchase from a pharmacist without a prescription have warning labels that it may cause drowsiness or increase the effects of alcohol and should not be taken while operating heavy machinery or driving.

Man reaching for a glass of alcohol. In front of the glass are prescription pills. There is a light cigarette sitting in an ashtray in the background.

THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF MEDICINES AFFECTED BY ALCOHOL

·    Paracetamol

·    Older style antihistamines

·    Travel sickness medicines

·    Strong pain relief medicines

·    Antidepressants and anxiety medicines

·    Anti-inflammatories

·    St John’s wort, valerian, lavender

 

SOME EFFECTS FROM TAKING MEDICINES AND ALCOHOL TOGETHER

·    Nausea and vomiting

·    Drowsiness

·    Headache

·    Difficulty moving

·    Difficulty concentrating

Dizzy woman sitting on the couch with hand placed on her forehead and across her stomach.

 

HOW DOES OUR BODY DEAL WITH ALCOHOL AND MEDICINES?

It is usually our liver that processes medicines, and it also processes alcohol. If our liver must deal with both at the same time it can slow the processing down for either alcohol or the medicine. This can make the effects of one of them more pronounced. Toxic levels of the medicine would be harmful to the body. Alcohol may also make medicines less effective or not effective at all.


Paracetamol in excessive doses can cause liver damage. The combination of paracetamol and alcohol is even more likely to cause liver damage.  

It may be difficult to know just how much effect alcohol can have on a medicine. It could even have an effect if they are taken hours apart as medicines effects can last for a long time.

You should always be aware of the contraindications of any medication you’re taking.  

 

YOUR HEALTH CARE IN YOUR POCKET!

Our clinical pharmacists are here to provide support and help answer any questions you may have, whenever you may have them.  Contact us at Pillway.com. We’re your healthcare in your pocket!

Woman sitting at a table with friends. There is a close-up of her hands, one is holding a cell phone and the other has a fork with a piece of lettuce. Below her hands is a table with healthy plated meals sitting on it.

 

 

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