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AWARE|University Counseling Center

Alcohol and Drug Interaction

The interaction between many medications and alcohol can lead to a significant increase in one's risk of illness, injury, or even death. When certain medications and alcohol compete in the body for absorption, the potency of the medication and/or alcohol is often increased. There is no set formula for what will happen when an individual consumes both alcohol and a medication. Each person is different, and the results of this type of potentially fatal cocktail vary based on the type and quantity of medication and alcohol ingested, the time frame involved, the individual's tolerance to both the medication and to alcohol, as well as a series of unpredictable, unique factors. To be safe, never mix alcohol with any type of medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, before first checking with a licensed health care professional.


Alcohol-Drug Interactions
Drug Prescribed Purpose Interaction
  (ex: Diprivan, Ethrane, Fluothane)

  Administered prior to surgery to
  render a patient unconscious
  andinsensitive 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



-  convulsions

(ex: Elavil)
  Used to treat depression and   
  other forms of mental illness

  - increased sedative effects                                

 - may decrease effectiveness of              
  - potential for dangerous rise in blood

 Antidiabetic medications   Used to help lower blood sugar 
  levels in diabetic individuals
  - reduced drug effectiveness
  - nausea
  - headache
(ex: Benadryl)

  Used to treat allergic   
  symptomsand insomnia

  - intensified sedation
  - excessive dizziness
 Antipsychotic medications
(ex: Thorazine)

  Used to diminish psychotic         
  symptoms such as delusions and

  - 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 affects

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)

  Used to alleviate moderate to
  severe pain

  - intensified sedation
  - increased possibility of a fatal overdose
Nonnarcotic 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 
   - severe drowsiness
   - depressed cardiac and respiratory functions
   - increased risk of coma or fatality


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