The 4 most common drugs you should NEVER drink alcohol on have been revealed

Coughs and colds have become more common again as we return to more normal life post Covid.

And as the sunnier weather returns too, the urge to get out and meet up with friends in pub gardens only gets stronger.

Mixing alcohol with drugs can be a dangerous combination, here's an expert on the do's and don'ts


Mixing alcohol with drugs can be a dangerous combination, here’s an expert on the do’s and don’tsPhoto credit: Getty

But if you have a medical condition and are taking medication, it’s important to know whether or not it’s safe to have a drink while you’re taking it.

Both prescription and over-the-counter medicines should come with a package insert (PIL).

It tells you exactly how and how often to take it, so it’s important that you read it thoroughly before you start taking it.

This is even more important if you plan on drinking alcohol, since alcohol can transform you blood pressure, temperature and fluid levels – which could be dangerous if you have been on medication.

When it comes to mixing drugs with alcohol, there are a few rules you should always abide by.

For example, you should not take medications that make you sleepy, change your blood sugar, or take anything for high blood pressure.

You should also stay away from alcohol if you’re prescribed pain medications — especially opiates, drugs for mental illness, and those that are broken down in the liver.

This is because drinking can cause less medication to break down, so levels get higher.

Pharmacist Scott McDougall, co-founder of The independent pharmacy warned patients often need treatment for side effects caused by mixing drugs with alcohol consumption.

He explained: “It is important that patients take medication dosages seriously and follow their doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice on whether or not they can consume alcohol alongside their medication.

“Remember that it is always best to treat any medical issue you are facing quickly and effectively with the appropriate medication and to follow the guidelines closely.”

Elderly patients should also be particularly careful and clarify their medication requirements and alcohol consumption with their family doctor or pharmacist.

Scott listed the four most common medications you shouldn’t consume alcohol with, but you should always check the label of any medication you’re prescribed.

1. propranolol

Propranolol is a prescription beta-blocker drug used to treat and relieve symptoms in a number of health conditions, including anxiety, heart problems, and migrainesays Scott.

“Propranolol is designed to lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and reduce the force of each beat.

“Alcohol can also lower your blood pressure, so mixing propranolol and alcohol is not recommended as it can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness and even fainting.

“Health experts advise avoiding alcohol when taking propranolol. If you’re taking propranolol, talk to your GP or pharmacist to see if you need to avoid alcohol entirely or if you need a unit limit based on the type of prescription you’re taking,” he added.

2. antibiotics

It is recommended not to drink alcohol while taking antibiotics, especially if you are unwell, as drinking alcohol can slow your recovery.

Scott explained: “There are a few antibiotics that require you to completely abstain from alcohol while taking them.

“Metronidazole, which is typically prescribed for dental work or to clear infected ulcers, and tinidazole, which is often prescribed to clear infections and fight unwanted gut bacteria.

“Combining alcohol with these two antibiotics can cause painful side effects, including stomach pain, vomiting, flushing, and a fast or irregular heartbeat.”

He added that you should also be careful with linezolid and doxycycline.

But he added that drinking alcohol is unlikely to cause problems if you’re taking the most common antibiotics. Therefore, when picking up your prescription, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you can drink alcohol in moderation while taking the medication.

You need to know the side effects if you have consumed alcohol with medication

If you have consumed alcohol while taking additional medication and experienced an adverse reaction, you should seek additional medical advice

Some common reactions are:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Strong headache
  • sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • changes in blood pressure
  • Abnormal Behavior
  • loss of coordination
  • accidents
  • depression

3. Cold and flu medication

Many people across the UK are currently on cold and flu medication as they battle the ‘worst cold ever’.

Scott says over-the-counter cold and flu medication can react with alcohol and cause severe drowsiness and dizziness.

He added: “This is particularly important if you intend to drive. Of course, you should never drive if you’re over the legal limit, but drinking while taking cold and flu medication (even a single drink) could impair your normal alertness and reaction time, and both substances can cause drowsiness and poor concentration.”

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4. Heartburn medication: Zantac

One of the most common over-the-counter medications, heartburn tablets, gels, or liquids, should be used with caution when consuming alcohol, Scott says.

“That’s because some drugs, when mixed with alcohol, can cause tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and sudden changes in blood pressure.

“Certain heartburn medications, such as Zantac (ranitidine), may also intensify the effects of alcohol and impair an individual’s judgment.”

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