Multi-Drug Use

Mixing drugs and alcohol? The combination can be lethal.

When used separately, small amounts of alcohol or drugs can make it dangerous or illegal to drive.

But when you mix multiple substances together, you put everyone at a greater risk. The best way to avoid these lethal risks is by not consuming multiple substances at the same time.

Like some medicines, alcohol can make you sleepy, drowsy or lightheaded. Drinking alcohol while taking medicines can intensify these effects. Many painkillers, allergy remedies and cold medicines contain more than one ingredient that can react with alcohol or other drugs.


“Avoid alcoholic drinks.”
“Alcohol may increase drowsiness.”
“Be careful when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery.”


You’ve probably seen these warnings on medicine labels. Make no mistake, the danger is real. Mixing alcohol and medicines can be lethal. Even medicines you wouldn’t suspect can react with alcohol – including many over-the-counter medications. And herbal remedies? They’re no exception.


Alcohol can make your medication less effective, useless or even toxic to your body. You may have trouble concentrating or performing mechanical skills – which makes it especially dangerous to drive.


Medications are typically safe and effective when used appropriately. Always read the label, and ask your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare provider to help you determine which medications interact harmfully with alcohol. Drug interaction checkers are also available online.



Mixing Alcohol With Medicines, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 18 July 2014.