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Be Safe, Stay Healthy This Holiday Season! Don’t Mix Alcohol & Medications!

By Florida Department of Health, Office of Communications

December 19, 2013

It’s a wonderful time of the year for holiday parties, food and cocktails. Yet did you know that mixing alcohol and medications can be life-threatening?

Whether you’re taking a prescription, over-the-counter medicines or even an herbal remedy, combining any medication with alcohol can lead to severe health consequences. The type of medicine, amount of alcohol consumed and physical differences related to a person’s age or weight can contribute to potential health risks. It’s important to be aware of the dangers of alcohol and medication interaction now and throughout the year.

During this holiday season, the Florida Department of Health recommends residents and visitors be aware of the potential effects of combining alcohol and medicine.

  • Alcohol may decrease the effectiveness of medications, even causing them to be useless. In other cases, alcohol may make medications harmful or even toxic to the body.
  • Alcohol also has a greater potential to interact with medications in an older adult, as alcohol can stay in the person’s system longer than a younger adult’s.
  • While taking multiple medications, the use of alcohol can magnify each of these risk factors.
  • If you are taking a prescription medication for anxiety, stress, depression, mood control, seizure control or pain control, it’s highly likely that alcohol will interact with it. People taking these types of medications should not drink beverages containing alcohol.
  • Certain antibiotics and diabetes medications, when mixed with alcohol, can also cause nausea, vomiting, confusion, low blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.

In addition, alcohol can adversely interact with hundreds of commonly used pain, cough/cold/flu and allergy medications. It’s vital to read, observe and strictly follow medication warning labels. Remember to always ask your health care provider or local pharmacist if it’s safe to use alcohol with the medications or herbal remedies you’re taking.

If you notice someone experiencing adverse effects from combining alcohol and medicine, call the Florida Poison Information Center Network (FPICN) hotline at 1-800-222-1222 immediately for expert medical assistance. Also, visit the FPICN at

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information regarding harmful interactions between alcohol and medications, including a list of common medications and common side-affects when used in combination with alcohol:

Make it a safe and healthy holiday season, and remember: When attending that holiday party or enjoying time with family and friends, alcohol and medications don’t mix!

Additional Resources