The combination of alcohol and medicines, whether prescription or over-the-counter, can lead to life-threatening consequences depending on the medicine, the amount of alcohol consumed and differences in body size or age.
Alcohol can interact with medicines in several ways. It can:
Not everyone is affected the same way. Because of a smaller body size, a woman who drinks the same amount as a man will have a higher alcohol level in her blood, making her more at risk for an interaction. Elderly people may experience more drowsiness and motor impairment than their younger counterparts when they combine alcohol with another medicine that causes drowsiness. People who regularly consume large quantities of alcohol are at more risk of some types of interactions than those who have only an occasional drink.
Here's how combining alcohol and medicine can affect the body:
Remember, this is not a full list of interactions between medicines and alcohol. If you take any medicine, always talk with a doctor or pharmacist before drinking alcohol. If someone does experience effects from combining alcohol and medicine, call IPC at 1-800-222-1222 for expert medical help.