Can I drink this beer while on medication?

NFL playoffs and the OSU Spring Semester are in full swing, and this may mean an increase in alcohol consumption during the months to come. There are many drugs that interact with alcohol to some extent. These interactions can either metabolize medications and decrease the medications effectiveness, or can have the opposite additive effect and increase the risk of toxicity.

Here is a limited chart of studied alcohol-drug interactions and the risk/warnings of combining the two, be sure to ask your pharmacist about any drug-drug interactions before taking your medication:

Common OTC/Prescribed Medications Clinical Effects Recommendations
Pain Medications:
Acetaminophen (can be found in multiple OTC/prescribed drugs) Acute alcohol use in large amounts can increase risk of liver toxicity Do not consume >3 alcoholic drinks/day while taking this medication
Aspirin (Excedrin), ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) Increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding Do not consume >3 alcoholic drinks/day while taking this medication
Codeine, hydrocodone + acetaminophen (Norco, Lortab, Lorcet, Vicodin), oxycodone + acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet) and tramadol (Ultram) Co-ingestion may lead to respiratory failure, increased dizziness, sedation and can potentially be fatal Avoid alcohol consumption while on these medications
Antidepressants/Seizure medications:
Amitriptyline (Elavil), imipramine (Tofranil), clomipramine (Anafranil); and bupropion (Wellbutrin/Zyban); phenytoin, perampanel (Fycompa) Increased risk of sedation, dizziness, fainting; may also increase risk of seizures; may cause psychiatric effects Minimize or avoid alcohol use, speak to your doctor/pharmacist about alternatives
Diabetic medications:
Glyburide (Diabeta), metformin (Glucophage) and insulin therapies May cause vomiting, nausea, headache, muscle or stomach pain and visual disturbance. Unpredictable effects while on insulin may occur Avoid heavy alcohol consumption (>3 drinks/day)
Antihistamines:
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, ZZZquil) and doxylamine (Sleep Aids) Increased risk of sedation and dizziness Advise against alcohol consumption, speak to your doctor/pharmacist about alternatives
Antihypertensives:
Amlodipine (Norvasc), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Procardia), atenolol (Tenormin), and metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL) Increased risk of dizziness and fainting

 

Advise against heavy alcohol consumption (>3 drinks/day)
Antimicrobials:
Doxycycline (Vibramycin), ketoconazole, metronidazole (Flagyl), and isoniazid May decrease effectiveness of medication, as well as increase risk of vomiting, nausea, stomach pain. Isoniazid and alcohol may cause liver damage Advise to avoid alcohol on all antimicrobial agents ask your pharmacist about interactions with your medications

 

Next time someone hands you an alcoholic drink and you are taking medication, ask yourself… is it worth the risk?

 

Justin Corpus

PharmD Candidate 2018

References:

  1. Alcohol and Drug Interactions. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter. December 2015.

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