Consumer Reports: When medication and alcohol don't mix

Posted at 3:45 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 15:45:56-05
Tis the season for lots of eating and drinking. But here’s a warning: Drinking even a little alcohol when you’re taking certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be a health hazard. Some drugs taken with alcohol can make the alcohol more potent. In other cases, taking medication while drinking can actually increase its effect or cause potentially harmful side effects.
For example: anti-anxiety drugs like Valium or Ativan. Taking them with alcohol can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or very slow breathing, and doing so increases the risk of an overdose. And the same goes for opioids like Vicodin, Percocet, and Demerol. 
Mixing alcohol and antibiotics such as azithromycin can cause nausea and vomiting. And drinking alcohol while taking doxycycline can reduce the drug’s ability to fight infection.
Many over-the-counter drugs can also interact with alcohol. Some antihistamines like Dimetapp, Zyrtec, and Benadryl Allergy can cause increased drowsiness when taken with alcohol. Even common pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol can be dangerous when taken with too many drinks. The health risks can increase when people take more than one medication. 
Blood pressure medicine can cause various heart problems when taken with alcohol. And if you’re on the blood thinner Coumadin and have more than 3 drinks, it could increase the risk of a stroke. So if you’re on medication, think twice before you reach for that drink.
Consumer Reports recommends that if you are taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, ask your doctor or pharmacist about drinking.