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Alcohol and Drug Interactions

resource on potential interactions between
alcohol and other drugs

Alcohol is just one of many drugs that, when taken on its own, can have varied effects on the body and mind. Other drugs, whether prescribed by a doctor, found in a medicine cabinet, or bought illegally, will also cause some change in your body chemistry. Mixing various substances together can sometimes have dire consequences.

While mixing drugs is never advised or condoned, there may be instances where accidental ingestion of drugs in combination with alcohol can occur. Knowing the effects of alcohol/drug interactions can help prevent these situations from happening in the first place, and the information provided can help you or someone you care about during an emergency situation.

The following is a table of known alcohol/drug interactions. The table below is not exhaustive and does not contain every possible interaction. Use the information to protect yourself, to protect others, and to gain more knowledge about living safely and healthily at Boston College. If you have non-emergent questions regarding interactions that are not listed below, please contact a medical professional.

 

Alcohol & Drug Interactions

Drug

Prescribed Purpose

Interaction with Alcohol

Anesthetics
(ex: Diprivan, Ethrane, Fluothane)

Administered prior to surgery to render a patient unconscious and insensitive to pain

• increased amount of drug required to induce loss of consciousness
• increased risk of liver damage

Antibiotics

Used to treat infectious diseases

• reduced drug effectiveness
• nausea/vomiting
• headache
• convulsions

Antidepressants
(ex: Elavil)

Used to treat depression and other forms of mental illness

• increased sedative effects
• may decrease effectiveness of anti-depressant
• potential for dangerous rise in blood pressure

Antidiabetic medications

Used to help lower blood sugar levels in diabetic individuals

• reduced drug effectiveness
• nausea
• headache

Antihistamines
(ex: Benadryl)

Used to treat allergic symptoms and insomnia

• intensified sedation
• excessive dizziness

Antipsychotic medications
(ex: Thorazine)

Used to diminish psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations

• intensified sedation
• impaired coordination
• potentially fatal breathing difficulties

Antiseizure medications
(ex: Dilantin)

Used to treat epilepsy

• decreased protection against seizures
increased risk of drug-related side effects

Antiulcer medications
(ex: Tagamet, Zantac)

Used to treat ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems

increased presence of drug 

increased risk of side effects

Cardiovascular medications
(ex: nitroglycerin, Apresoline,

Ismelin, Inderal)

Wide variety of medications used to treat ailments of the heart and circulatory system

• extreme dizziness or fainting
• reduced drug effectiveness

Narcotic pain relievers
(morphine, codeine, Darvon,

Demerol, Oxycontin)

Used to alleviate moderate to severe pain

• intensified sedation
• increased possibility of a fatal overdose

Non-narcotic pain relievers
(aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen

Used to alleviate mild to moderate pain

• increased risk of stomach bleeding
• increased risk of the inhibition of blood clotting
• increased effects of consumed alcohol
*Acetaminophen (Tylenol) taken during or after drinking may significantly increase one's risk of liver damage

Sedatives and hypnotics
(Valium, Dalmane, Ativan, sleeping pills)

Used to alleviate anxiety and insomnia

• severe drowsiness
• depressed cardiac and respiratory functions
• increased risk of coma or fatality

Anesthetics
(ex: Diprivan, Ethrane, Fluothane)

Administered prior to surgery to render a patient unconscious and insensitive to pain

• increased amount of drug required to induce loss of consciousness
• increased risk of liver damage

*Adapted from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/Publications/AlcoholAlerts/