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medication and alcohol
March 4, 2022
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Medications And Alcohol

Whenever you visit to doctor. There is one question that always arises “Can I drink alcohol with medication?” With this Common question, you shouldn’t be a surprising one: 55% of Americans regularly take prescription medications and 30% of Americans have at least 1 alcoholic drink every day. Here we learn about Medications and alcohol.

What happens when you mix alcohol with medications?

First, some general information about mixing alcohol and medications.

Alcohol and medications can interact in different ways:

  • Alcohol can make your medication less effective.
  • Alcohol can make your medication toxic to your body.
  • Alcohol can make side effects from your medication worse.
  • Mixing alcohol and your medication can cause new symptoms and make you feel very ill.
  • You may feel tipsier with alcohol if you take certain medications at the same time.

Women should be extra careful. Females have higher blood alcohol levels than men after drinking the same amount of alcohol, so alcohol may be riskier for them. This is because females have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme that helps to break down alcohol in the body.

Older people should take special care, too. The older you are, the longer your body takes to break down alcohol, so the alcohol sticks around in your blood longer. Older people are also more likely to take more medications, so the chance of a bad interaction is higher.

So, which medications should you not mix with alcohol? Here’s the 10 Medication Treatment Pills You Should not take with any Alcohol

Having one or two drinks with medications like Viagra may not be an issue for some people. But there are several factors that can make you more sensitive to alcohol or Viagra or both — like age, other medications you’re taking, and your dose — that can potentially make the combination more harmful.
So it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before you consider having a drink while taking ED medications.

  1. Anti-anxiety and sleeping pills
  2. Painkillers
  3. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
  4. Erectile dysfunction medications
  5. Diabetes medications
  6. Antibiotics
  7. Coumadin
  8. ADHD medications
  9. Nitrates and other blood pressure drugs
  10. OTC cold and flu treatments

1) Anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills

Using alcohol while taking anti-anxiety medications or sleeping pills can cause serious problems, too. Examples of anti-anxiety medications include:

  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)

These medications are sedatives, and taken together with alcohol, can make you drowsy or even unconscious.

2) Painkillers

If you’re taking ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), drinking alcohol can lead to an upset stomach, stomach bleeding, or ulcers.

Drinking alcohol while taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) is also risky. Alcohol and acetaminophen are both broken down in the liver. When the liver is busy breaking down alcohol, it can’t deal with acetaminophen, and so the drug builds up in the body and can cause serious liver damage.

The greatest risk, though, is drinking alcohol with any opioid painkillers, such as codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone. Unlike ibuprofen and acetaminophen, these are prescription medications for people dealing with severe pain from injuries, postsurgical care, oral surgery, and migraines. Combining them with alcohol can cause excessive drowsiness, slowed breathing, and even death. Avoid alcohol completely if you’re taking any of these painkillers.

3) Antidepressants and mood stabilizers

All antidepressants should be taken with care when drinking alcohol. The effect on your body will depend on the type of antidepressant, but the risks are real and can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Overdosing
  • Worsening feelings of depression
  • Problems with movements
  • Liver damage
  • Serious heart effects

Similar risks exist if you take alcohol with mood stabilizers and antipsychotics such as aripiprazole (Abilify), Divalproex (Depakote), or lithium.

4) Erectile dysfunction medications

Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects millions of people, though you’re more likely to experience it as you get older.

ED medications like sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis) can cause side effects, like flushing and headaches, which can be made worse when combined with alcohol.

Some ED treatments don’t involve medications and may be safer for you to use while drinking alcohol.

How does alcohol affect people with erectile dysfunction?

Some people might use alcohol to feel more relaxed before sex. And while a drink or two might help get you in the mood, overindulging before the act can potentially result in erection problems. For people who drink a lot, these problems can become more frequent and, eventually, the norm.

If you already have ED, drinking alcohol likely won’t make it any easier to achieve or keep an erection. That’s because alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which means it can slow down brain signals. Your CNS plays a significant role in an erection, so slowing these signals down could potentially cause erection issues.

What’s more, alcohol can have other effects on your health that can contribute to ED. This can include lowering testosterone in your body and affecting your nerves, heart, and blood vessels.

Can I take ED medications like Generic Viagra with alcohol?

Viagra (sildenafil) is a medication that’s commonly used to treat ED. It’s part of a medication class called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. Other examples of PDE5 inhibitors used for ED include tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and avanafil (Stendra).

As discussed above, alcohol can potentially cause or worsen ED. So, if you’re taking a medication like Viagra to help you get or maintain an erection, alcohol may be counteracting its effects. In other words, it’s best to limit alcohol consumption if you’re taking an ED medication — or avoid it altogether.

Taking these medications along with alcohol can not only prevent your medication from working as well, but it can also potentially worsen side effects, like flushing and headaches.

How soon can I start drinking after taking my ED medication? Medication and Alcohol

It’s best to wait until all of the medication leaves your system before you start drinking alcohol. Viagra and Levitra stay around in the body for about a day, and Cialis can last for up to 5 days.

But since everyone’s body is different, it’s best to first discuss with your healthcare provider when it’s safe for you to have a drink.

Keep in mind that medications like Viagra are to be used as needed — not regularly — for sex, so you may not always know ahead of time when you’re going to take it. That means that you may want to think twice before taking ED medications if you already have a few drinks in your system.

Are there any ED treatments that aren’t affected by alcohol?

There are some ED treatment options aside from medications that may be safer when used in combination with alcohol.

These options include:

A vacuum device: This is a plastic tube (pump) that creates a vacuum to help blood flow into the penis for an erection.

An implanted device: The purpose of this device is to insert inflatable or malleable (bendable rods) penile implants that help create an erection.

Surgery to repair arteries: The surgery repairs blocked arteries that are causing ED (usually for people under age 30).

A healthcare professional has to perform the procedure to implant a device or surgically repair arteries, whereas the vacuum device can be used at home.

Some of these options, like implanted devices or surgery, are more involved and may not be right for you. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re looking for other ED options. It’s also important to speak with your healthcare provider about possible underlying causes of ED. Sometimes, making lifestyle changes, like limiting alcohol and drug use and doing physical activity, can help.

Additionally, you may want to talk with your healthcare provider about whether any of the other medications you take could be contributing to erectile dysfunction. For example, certain antidepressants and blood pressure medications are commonly linked to ED.

Behavioral counseling to address anxiety and depression may be able to help with ED as well.

5) Diabetes medications

If you take any medications for diabetes, drinking alcohol can lead to:

  • Very low blood sugar levels
  • Flushing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sudden changes in blood pressure

These medications include insulin or pills like metformin (Glucophage), glyburide (Micronase), and glipizide (Glucotrol). Take great care with these.

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6) Antibiotics

Metronidazole (Metrogel, Flagyl) is a common antibiotic, and drinking any amount of alcohol with it will cause violent nausea and vomiting. Other antibiotics such as nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin), isoniazid (Laniazid), and azithromycin (Zithromax) can all cause unpleasant reactions when mixed with alcohol.

7) Coumadin

Alcohol has an unpredictable effect on warfarin (Coumadin). If you drink alcohol while taking warfarin, you will need close monitoring to make sure your blood is not too thin.

8) ADHD medications

ADHD treatments such as amphetamine (Adderall), methylphenidate (Ritalin), and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) can interact with alcohol, causing any of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Heart problems
  • Liver damage

9) Nitrates and other blood pressure medications

Lots of blood pressure medications and anti-angina medications (nitrates) can interact dangerously with alcohol. Common effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Drowsiness
  • A faster heartbeat or arrhythmias

10) Over-the-counter cold and flu treatments

Most over-the-counter cold and flu remedies such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), guaifenesin (Mucinex), and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) contain a mix of different painkillers, antihistamines, and decongestants, and some (like NyQuil) even contain alcohol. On their own, these medications can make you drowsy and dizzy. If you combine them with alcohol, it can make the drowsiness and dizziness worse, and increase your risk of overdosing. Check the ingredients on the box before taking any of these with alcohol.

Mixing alcohol with medications — including many over-the-counter medications — is a risky and unpredictable business. If you’re unsure, avoid alcohol completely until you can check with your pharmacist or healthcare provider. A good resource for safe alcohol habits is the NIAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

It’s best to avoid consuming alcohol while taking ED medications like Viagra: Not only can alcohol counteract the medication’s effects, but it can also worsen side effects, like flushing and headaches.
Again, talk to your healthcare provider before drinking alcohol if you’re taking medications like Viagra. Your healthcare provider can also discuss potential underlying causes, lifestyle changes, and other ED options that might be right for you.

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