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These Medications Should Never Be Mixed With Alcohol

A must-read.

Drinking alcohol while taking medication may seem like no big deal, but combining the two can often be very dangerous.

If you’ve been prescribed medication and aren’t sure if it’s OK to drink that red wine, you might want to think twice about hitting the bottle. According to Consumer Reports, more than 100 medications can cause issues when mixed with alcohol.

Combining them can include symptoms that range from something as minor as nausea to more serious complications, like organ damage, stomach bleeds, difficulty breathing and even death.

One study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 42 percent of people who drink alcohol were taking medication that could negatively react with the drink. So how do you know what is dangerous to mix with booze and what’s not?

wine photo
Getty Images | David Silverman

Here’s a list of medications that should never be mixed with alcohol, along with some of the possible health risks. It should be noted that the risks vary based on the exact type of medication.

1. Anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax, Valium and Ativan and anti-depression meds such as Prozac, Wellbutrin and Zoloft

Risks include: Drowsiness, dizziness, risk of overdose, risk of high blood pressure/heart attack, breathing difficulty, impaired motor control, liver damage, memory problems and unusual behavior.

prozac photo
Getty Images | Stephen Chernin

2. Antihistamines such as Zyrtec and Benadryl and other allergy medications

Risks include: drowiness, dizziness, increased overdose risk.

zyrtec photo
Flickr | JeepersMedia

3. Antibiotics

Risks include: increased heart rate, sudden changes blood pressure, stomach pain, vomiting, headache, and liver damage and reduced effectiveness.

antibiotics photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

4. Attention medications such as Adderall and Ritalin

Risks include: Dizziness, drowsiness, impaired concentration, possible heart or liver damage.

ritalin photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

5. Blood pressure drugs

Risks include: Dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, heart problems such as arrhythmia.

blood pressure photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

6. Blood thinners

Risks include: Internal bleeding or an increased risk of blood clots, stroke or heart attack.

blood thinner photo
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

7. Cholesterol drugs such as Lipitor

Risks include: Liver damage, increased flushing and itching, increased stomach bleeding.

lipitor photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

RELATED: The Difference Between Advil, Tylenol, Aleve And Aspirin All Summed Up In One Chart

8. Cough medicine

Risks include: Drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk for overdose.

cough medicine photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

9. Prescription opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin and Percocet

Risks include: Drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk for overdose, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor control, unusual behavior and memory problems.

vicodin photo
Flickr | frankieleon

10. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil, Motrin, Aleve and Tylenol

Risks include: Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is a particularly bad medication to mix with alcohol, as it can lead to liver damage. Other risks include upset stomach, bleeding and ulcers, and rapid heartbeat.

Learn more about the drugs to avoid mixing with alcohol from the National Institutes of Health.

pills photo
Flickr | Jamiesrabbits

Women, Elderly At Greater Risk

As the NIH points out, while everyone should be following these guidelines, women and the elderly are at an even greater risk for some of the negative side effects of mixing alcohol with certain medications.

Women’s bodies have less water than men’s do, so the rate at which women process alcohol is slower. Likewise, our bodies are slower to process alcohol as we age, so the elderly are at greater risk because of this, as well as the fact that they’re more likely to take medications.

The bad news for women and alcohol doesn’t stop with mixing medications. Recent studies have found that a drink a day is tied to an increased breast cancer risk and that even moderate drinking may alter our brains.

older woman drinking photo
Flickr | garryknight

RELATED: Here Are The Worrying Risks Of Over-The-Counter Sleep Aids

Alcohol’s Effects On The Brain And Body

While the researched is mixed on the health benefits and detriments of drinking alcohol, one thing is decidedly clear: Long-term, excessive alcohol use is terribly damaging to your brain and your body, with complications including the liver condition cirrhosis and dementia.

In the video below, Dr. Samuel Ball of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University talks about some of the effects alcohol has on your brain and body.

When in doubt, always consult your doctor about what is safe for you. And if you’re not sure, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake—better safe than sorry!

Photo by Charles Williams