Almost half of all prescription drugs taken interact with alcohol. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol can either reduce or neutralize the effect of many drugs or prescribed medications. Some drugs can also intensify the sedative effects of alcohol, increasing drowsiness and reducing coordination.
Whenever medication is prescribed, people should check with their pharmacist to find out whether alcohol is permitted or contraindicated.
Some medications, particularly over-the-counter products like painkillers, may hinder the elimination of alcohol, increase or mask its effects, or cause unpredictable reactions. Conversely, alcohol can make medications less effective or interfere with their elimination. Anyone taking medication should be properly informed about contraindications before drinking alcohol at the same time. It is important to remember that, like alcohol, medications are eliminated by the liver and, as a general rule, it is better not to drink while taking medication. If in doubt, it is advised that people speak with their doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions.
Alberta Health Services offers a wide range of services for individuals looking for help for someone they care about, or for themselves.
Call the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322
It’s free, confidential and available 24/7