Pharmacists warn of the dangers of mixing alcohol with medicines

  • Mixing alcohol with over-the-counter or prescription medicines can have unpredictable and sometimes harmful effects
  • Ask your pharmacist first before taking alcohol with medicines during festive season

14 December 2018: With Christmas just around the corner and many people now in full festive swing, Irish pharmacists have issued a warning about the dangers of mixing alcohol and medicines.

Ann-Marie Horan, a pharmacist and member of the Executive Committee of the Irish Pharmacy Union, explained the dangers. “Consuming even small amounts of alcohol in conjunction with medicines can have significant impacts. This applies not just to prescription medicines but also to many over-the-counter medicines such as cold remedies, pain relievers and anti-allergy medicines.

“One of the main risks is that mixing medicines with alcohol can make your medicines less effective. This could in turn have impacts on your health and wellbeing as you are not treating your condition appropriately.”

Pharmacists also advise that many medicines can also make users sleepy, drowsy, or lightheaded and can interfere with concentration and the ability to drive a vehicle or operate machinery. Consuming alcohol at the same time as using these medicines can lead to significant risks to personal safety, including serious or even fatal accidents on the roads or at work.

“We also need to remember that medicines containing alcohol can affect a person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits, so by drinking alcohol on top of taking medication, you could inadvertently put yourself over the legal limit for driving. Our advice is to always read the label and, when in doubt, ask your pharmacist.”

Ms Horan concluded by advising patients to ask their pharmacist first before taking alcohol with any type of medicine to avoid putting their personal safety and the safety of others at risk.


Further information:

Sinéad Fennell, Press and Communications Manager, Irish Pharmacy Union +353 87 775 1510