Mixing Prescription Drugs With Alcohol

If you have ever been written a prescription by a doctor then there’s a good chance you have seen or been told the various instructions that go along with said prescription. Things like “take with food” or “take x amount x number of times a day for x days.” 

Another common instruction or warning that comes with most prescription drugs is to not mix the said prescription drug with alcohol. While that warning is just as important as the others, it is the one that tends to get ignored or overlooked the most. Most people blow off that instruction or warning thinking, “what’s the worst that can happen?” Well, depending on that drug, mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can actually be incredibly dangerous and can do significant damage to your organs or brain. 

In this blog we will look at what constitutes a prescription drug and why mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can be dangerous. We will also talk about how mixing the two can result in addiction and the ways in which you or someone you know can get help in the event that an addiction develops.

Mixing Prescription Drugs With Alcohol

What Constitutes As A Prescription Drug? 

Technically, a prescription drug is any medication that requires a prescription from a doctor in order to be able to obtain. This can include painkillers, depressants, stimulants, benzos, and any other substance that cannot be obtained over-the-counter. 

Prescription drugs serve a variety of purposes, all medically directed. When used properly and for the reason that they are being prescribed, they can help a person in a variety of ways and typically make a person’s life better or easier to navigate. 

Unfortunately, prescription drugs tend to have a largely negative connotation these days due to the number of people that abuse them and use them in ways other than medically directed. Certain prescription drugs, such as painkillers, are also highly addictive, leading many people to ultimately become dependent or even addicted to them through no fault of their own.

Why Is It Bad To Mix Alcohol and Prescription Drugs?

On their own, prescription drugs have various side effects that at times can be unpleasant and tough to navigate. Chances are you have seen those commercials on tv where it feels like the voice of the commercial is running off a laundry list of potential side effects for whatever medication the commercial is for. Some of these potential side effects can be significant too including drowsiness, changes in blood pressure, loss of coordination, liver damage, and even heart problems. 

Adding alcohol to the mix can only exacerbate these side effects and in some cases make them even more severe. If you think about the effects that alcohol has on a normal person, they tend to be similar to many of the common side effects associated with prescription medications: drowsiness, nausea, loss of coordination, etc. When combining the two those feelings intensify, making them worse. 

Additionally, drinking while taking a prescription medication can actually make the medication less effective. In fact, in some cases, drinking can make the prescription medication completely useless, rendering it completely ineffective. 

What Are Some of the Dangers of Mixing Prescription Drugs and Alcohol?

In addition to some of the side effects and other potential issues we talked about above, in some extreme cases, mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can lead to serious medical problems and can even be life-threatening. In fact, certain medications when mixed with alcohol can be deadly. 

Even if the interaction isn’t deadly, as we mentioned above, the combination can lead to either the medication or the alcohol being less effective. As a result, that can lead to a person either taking more of the medication equaling an amount that is more than directed or drinking more. 

In either case, the results can be dangerous and cause significant issues. Some of the more significant medical issues that can arise as a result of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired breathing
  • Internal bleeding
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Liver damage
  • Fainting
  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Heart problems

What Are the Worst Drugs to Mix with Alcohol?

While there are hundreds of medications out there, there are some in particular that are significantly more dangerous to mix with alcohol than others. Let’s take a look at some of the worst prescription drugs to mix with alcohol and what can happen if you do. 

Allergy Medication

Allergy medications, such as Allegra or Claritin, already come with a warning that it can cause drowsiness or dizziness. In fact, some allergy medications warn against driving or operating heavy machinery while on said medications. 

Similar to allergy medications, alcohol also can cause drowsiness and dizziness. Thus, mixing the two can intensify those feelings and can lead to even further impaired judgment or focus, which can be very dangerous. 

Anti-Anxiety Medication

When mixed with alcohol, anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium can lead to the following:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired motor control


Drinking alcohol while on antibiotics can actually render the antibiotic ineffective. This can be particularly dangerous considering antibiotics are typically prescribed to address a serious issue such as an infection. Additionally, drinking while on antibiotics can lead to sudden changes in blood pressure, headaches, liver damage, and a rapid heartbeat.

Blood Thinners

If you are currently taking a blood thinner, even just the occasional drink can significantly increase the risk of internal bleeding. The more you drink, the greater the chances are. Additionally, it can make the blood thinner less effective. A blood thinner losing its effectiveness increases the risk of a blood clot forming. This can, in turn, increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Cholesterol Medications

Cholesterol medications, such as Lipitor and Crestor are pretty commonly prescribed medications. On their own, cholesterol medications can lead to stomach bleeding, itching, flushing, and even liver damage. Combining cholesterol medication with alcohol can increase the likelihood of these symptoms and in some cases make them even worse. In some rare cases, mixing the two can also lead to liver inflammation. 

Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers are commonly prescribed to treat muscle pain and other pain-related issues. Drinking while taking muscle relaxers can lead to seizures, memory loss, drowsiness, dizziness, slowed or impaired breathing, abnormal behavior, and impaired motor skills. 

Diabetes Medications

For those suffering from diabetes, drinking alcohol can affect their blood sugar levels. It can also lead to symptoms such as a sudden change in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, headaches, vomiting, and nausea.

Is Treatment Available For Drug and Alcohol Issues?

For some people, mixing prescription drugs with alcohol might lead to some adverse health effects. For others though, the combination can lead to abuse and even addiction. There are ways that people who find themselves suffering from either prescription drug addiction, an alcohol addiction, or both, can receive help. 

The first step in that process is to undergo detox. During the detox process, the body is rid of any and all harmful substances. After all, the body and brain can’t truly begin to recover until it no longer has any harmful substances in it. 

Detoxing can be done at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment facility that also offers detox services such as Harmony Ridge Recovery. Attempting to self-detox can be incredibly dangerous or even life-threatening. 

After detox has been completed, the next step is to enter into a treatment program. Based on your needs and the severity of the addiction it will be recommended to enter either inpatient or outpatient treatment. Treatment will consist mostly of therapy sessions, including behavioral therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to help reprogram the brain. That way the brain no longer thinks it needs drugs or alcohol in order to function properly.

Want To Know More About Mixing Prescription Drugs With Alcohol?

On their own, prescription drugs can have some pretty significant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and drowsiness. Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can just intensify those side effects and can even cause the prescription medications to be less effective. 

Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can also lead to substance abuse and addiction. At Harmony Ridge Recovery Center we understand that sometimes, even when you take a prescribed medication as medically directed, it can still lead to addiction. That’s why we offer a variety of treatment programs for both alcohol-related issues as well as prescription medication abuse and addiction. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, contact us today. We want everyone that walks through our doors to leave and go on to live happy, healthy, and sober lives.

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