Why Mixing Alcohol And Medication Can Be Dangerous (& Even Fatal)

Which types of medication are safe to mix with alcohol?

Anti-inflammatory medications, such as Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve, or naprosyn are safe to mix with alcohol and will help with hangover symptoms. These medications are most effective when you take them after eating. But if you typically experience an upset stomach when you drink, anti-inflammatory medications will actually make your stomach feel worse, so you may want to also take a zantac or pepcid pill (heartburn medications).

And before you start worrying about your daily Pill, know that it's safe to take when you're drinking! “Birth control pills are hormonally mediated,” Dr. Burke explains, “so alcohol will typically not affect them as much.” There isn't any medical evidence that alcohol compromises the effectiveness of the Pill, but it's still important to exercise caution.

Like with any other medication, if you take the Pill and vomit, your dose may be compromised. And if a night of drinking leads you to forget the Pill entirely, that puts you at risk for pregnancy and STDs if you have sex without a condom. If you're prone to forgetting the Pill, consider taking it every afternoon, when you know you'll be awake and sober.

Is there a safe way to drink while on medication?

If you are a very light drinker, medication may not be much of a problem. “If you drink two or three beers once or twice a week, I probably wouldn't be as concerned,” Dr. Burke says. “However, if you are doing keg stands on a regular basis and are taking antidepressants, antibiotics, or chronic pain medications, you should really talk to your doctor and discuss the potential risks and reactions.”

Since there are so many variables involved in your specific medical history, medication type, and drinking habits, there's no hard and fast rule about how many hours you should wait between taking medication and drinking alcohol. If you're not clear on how you should handle your medication, schedule a consult with your doctor.

Mixing alcohol with medication is rarely a good idea. When in doubt, err on the side of taking the night off from drinking. One night of partying isn't worth an awful hangover, blacking out, or worse. Stay safe!