Medications you should never mix with alcohol

Medications you should never mix with alcohol

If you have ever read the leaflet that accompanies almost every form of medication, the risk of side effects will be familiar and concerning. However, mixing alcohol and medications increases the likelihood of those risks occurring, creating an altogether more dangerous situation.

Raising awareness of the harmful interactions between alcohol and medications can improve lives and enrich societies. Among other organisations, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is calling for greater education with regard to how prescription medications in particular interact with alcohol.

Here at Cassiobury Court, we provide a variety of treatment options to help you live a fulfilled life without the burden of addiction. Acknowledging and accepting a problem with drugs and alcohol are the first steps to recovery. Nevertheless, improving baseline intelligence is crucial to informing those starting point of the journey. Without knowledge about the effects of alcohol and drugs, it is difficult to acknowledge and accept an issue with substance abuse.

Accordingly, in the interest of dispensing valuable information, here is a non-exhaustive list of medications that should never be combined with alcohol. You will also find details of how Cassiobury Court can help in each instance, adding an extra layer of value.



Painkillers are powerful drugs that interfere with the central nervous system as it attempts to transmit nerve signals we receive as pain. Common painkillers include Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Aspirin. All are readily available in supermarkets and pharmacies. They are so commonly used as to be ubiquitous within our culture. Mixing over-the-counter painkillers with small quantities of alcohol should not yield any severe side effects.

However, a more powerful tranche of painkillers exists, and you should definitely avoid mixing alcohol with those prescription drugs. Painkillers such as codeine, gabapentin and tramadol are often prescribed for moderate pain, while morphine and pethidine can be used to treat chronic conditions. If you drink alcohol while taking such prescription painkillers, the risk of experiencing nausea is increased. In more severe cases, people can struggle with drowsiness and dizziness, leading to further complications.

For help with addiction to painkillers, please visit our residential addiction treatment page.



We do not have a comprehensive understanding of how antidepressants work, but most theories centre on their ability to correct chemical imbalances in the brain as a way of managing depression. A total of 70.9 million prescriptions for antidepressants were administered in England throughout 2018, highlighting the need for greater guidance on their interaction with alcohol.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are most common type of antidepressants, used to treat mental health conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. SSRIs include fluoxetine, sertraline and citalopram.

Depending on the type and dosage, mixing antidepressants and alcohol can result in differing grades of harm. From drowsiness to a worsening of depressive symptoms, the effects are generally not beneficial to your health. As such, the NHS advises avoiding alcohol while taking antidepressants. After all, taking antidepressants with one hand and drinking alcohol, a depressant, with the other just seems illogical.

Cassiobury Court offers a range of therapy services, designed to complement the addiction treatment process. If you are struggling with the balance between antidepressants and alcohol, read more about our therapy packages.


Sleeping pills

As suggested by the name, sleeping pills are used to encourage and extend sleep in people who may otherwise struggle to achieve those effects. Whether related to stress, underlying health problems or clinical insomnia, many people struggle with irregular bedtime habits, leading to the advent of sleeping medication as a helping hand.

When used safely, sleeping pills can have a positive effect on those who need them most. Yet, when mixed with alcohol, the sedative and hypnotic effects of sleeping pills can be multiplied, increasing the risk of overdose. Even one alcoholic drink can be dangerous when combined with sleeping pills, so professional advice tells us to avoid that nightcap when trying to nod off.

If you are concerned about excessive drinking, or a damaging relationship with alcohol, our dedicated alcohol support services can be of immense benefit. Get in touch today to begin your journey to recovery.



The synergy between cocaine and booze-fuelled nightlife presents perhaps the most dangerous likelihood of mixing alcohol and medications. Those predisposed to cocaine misuse tend to socialise in spaces where alcohol is readily available. Pubs. Gigs. Nightclubs. The recreational popularity of cocaine makes alcohol a common companion, but the negative consequences of such a combination far outweigh the short-term high.

When alcohol and cocaine interact, they create a third chemical in the body: cocaethelylene, which causes heart problems and liver damage. When levels of cocaethelylene are built up in the body through repeated cocaine and alcohol abuse, the risk of heart attack and liver failure increases. As such, both substances should definitely be avoided to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

We specialise in the treatment of cocaine addiction, and further information is available here. Request a free call back to start the admission process, or merely to access the advice you need to make informed decisions.



While campaigners are keen to illustrate the medicinal qualities of cannabis in the carefully monitored treatment of specific conditions, it remains an illegal Class B drug in the UK. Nevertheless, it has always proven difficult for authorities to totally eradicate recreational use, and that makes interaction between marijuana and alcohol even more likely.

Cannabis and alcohol have similar effects on the brain, but they achieve those results in different ways. While cannabis affects the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, alcohol damages the neurotransmitters. When both substances are used simultaneously, especially at high doses, the effects of each are enhanced, leading to increased sensory impairment, decreased perceptive judgment and a greater chance of overdose.

Our team specialises in cannabis addiction, helping a broad range of people to overcome the vagaries of a difficult condition. For more information about our detox programme, and our wider expertise in treating cannabis addiction, click here.


ADHD medications

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterised by troubled attention spans, restlessness, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour. The classic imagery of ADHD belongs to that of a child misbehaving in class, seeking attention but struggling to interact. However, the condition also effects adults, and medication is often prescribed to treat the condition.

Mixing ADHD medication with alcohol can cause a myriad of health complications. The long-acting stimulants within ADHD medication can be released too early when mixed with alcohol, unleashing dangerous side effects and the potential for overdose. An elevated risk of heart problems is also associated with mixing alcohol and ADHD medications, so avoiding such a scenario is highly advised.

If you are struggling with prescription drugs, and especially with how they interact with alcohol, Cassiobury Court is here to help. Find more information throughout our website or get in touch if you have a more detailed question.

For additional support, education and guidance on all aspects of drugs, alcohol and their complex interactions, contact our dedicated team today on 0800 001 4070. Together, we can decode the causes, trends and themes of addiction, helping you enjoy a healthier life.