Medications & Alcohol

One of the common questions our pharmacists are asked is whether alcohol can be taken safely with their meds.  Yes, there are many medicines that shouldn’t be combined with alcohol, and then there are many more that can be carefully managed.

Medications that make you drowsy – limit alcohol with these, for instance sedating antihistamines, sleeping tablets, anxiety medication and meds for treating pain.  Some common names you might recognise are amitriptyline, tramadol, gabapentin, pregabalin, zopiclone, codeine, quetiapine etc.  The combination of the drowsy effects from medication and alcohol is thought to be more than additive, leading to more sedation than you would otherwise expect.  Remember that more sedation means less alertness and you are less able to be able to drive safely, or operate machinery, or look after small children safely.

Anti-inflammatories – these medications are tough on the lining of your stomach, for example diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib etc.   Anybody who has experienced a hangover knows that the tummy gets a rough time from alcohol, so the combination of the two is extra-damaging.   Try not to combine anti-inflammatories with alcohol if you can help it.

Antibiotics – if you are prescribed a course of antibiotics it generally means your body is working hard to fight an infection.  To give it the best chance of recovery avoid alcohol until you feel better again.  Listen to the signals your body is telling you. 

Finally, did you know that it is illegal to drive while impaired by drugs - even legally prescribed prescription medicines?  The law treats recreational drugs and prescription medicines even-handedly because both can impair a person’s ability to drive safely.   Please do everything you can to stay safe this winter season. #heretohelp