Alcohol Use and Older Adults

Frequently Asked Questions

4. Is drinking alcohol and taking medicine bad for you?

Sometimes. Drinking alcohol can cause certain medicines to not work properly and other medicines to become more dangerous or even deadly. Mixing alcohol and some medicines can cause sleepiness, confusion, or lack of coordination, which may lead to accidents and injuries. It also may cause nausea, vomiting, and headaches, as well as other serious health problems.

Dozens of medicines interact with alcohol and can be harmful. Here are some examples.

Medications stay in the body for at least several hours. So, there can still be a problem if you drink alcohol hours after taking a pill. Read the labels on all medications and follow the directions. Some medication labels warn people not to drink alcohol when taking the medicine. Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider whether it's okay to drink alcohol while taking a certain medicine.

Learn more about alcohol’s interactions with prescription drugs.