Top 10 Drugs Never to Mix with Alcohol

You should never mix alcohol with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medication, antidepressants and anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, attention/concentration medication, marijuana, LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics, crystal meth, heroin, or cocaine/crack. Here’s why.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: This article introduces you to the top ten drugs NEVER to mix with alcohol. We invite you to ask further questions at the end.

Table of Contents:

Mixing Alcohol With Other Drugs

Alcohol is a highly reactive substance. This means that if you take it alongside another drug, you’re going to have a reaction – no matter how large or small the dose. Admittedly, not all effects of mixing alcohol are life-threatening. The severity of these effects range from mild to severe. This will explain why you might feel a bit dizzy after downing a couple of beers while on a prescription pain medication.

So, why does the body have this reaction?

To understand why mixing alcohol with drugs is dangerous, we must first understand how alcohol affects the brain and body. When alcohol enters your body, it almost immediately slows down communication in your brain. It depresses your central nervous system, which is responsible for communication between your brain and body. In turn, there are major functions of your body which are affected:

  •  Breathing
  •  Movement
  •  Speech
  •  Thought

This commonly leads to alcohol-induced experiences such as:

  •  Blurred vision
  •  Complications with memory
  •  Difficulty walking
  •  Slower reaction time
  •  Slurred speech

These effects can be dangerous in their own regard, especially when someone drinks too much alcohol. The brain often lacks judgement or practicality, and can even give people the idea that they’re invincible.

When you add drugs to this, new problems begin to arise. By adding alcohol to certain drugs, you can amplify the effects and, in turn, cause the drug to become a toxin in your body. In some cases, depressant effects are amplified many times more than effects of drinking and taking the drug separately. Different drugs work at different levels. Therefore, it’s important to educate yourself on which drugs are the most dangerous.

The following list is compiled of research which is meant to inform you of the most dangerous drugs to mix with alcohol. Please note that this list in NOT INCLUSIVE. Many different drugs are known to mix dangerously with alcohol. We’ve chosen those that are popular drugs-of-choice, and drugs that we cover here at Addiction Blog.

#10, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Many people are simply unaware of the dangers in mixing non- prescription medications with alcohol. This includes even the lightest medications such as Advil or Tylenol. When you do drink and take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or over-the-counter medications, the reactions are often overlooked, as they aren’t always immediately noticeable. Sometimes, the problem isn’t identified until after long-term use of general pain relief medication and alcohol. These complications include:
  •  Bleeding
  •  Liver damage (especially with Tylenol)
  •  Rapid heartbeat
  •  Ulcers
  •  Upset stomach

#9 – Pain Medication

Prescription painkillers such as Percocet (oxycodone), OxyContin, and Vicodin (hydrocodone) pose even bigger dangers. The unfortunate truth is, they are probably the most common drugs to be mixed with alcohol as people enjoy the amplification of effects. However, most are unaware these are also some of the most dangerous drugs to mix with alcohol. Resulting effects can include:
  •  Dizziness
  •  Difficulty breathing
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Higher risk of overdose
  •  Impacted motor functioning
  •  Memory complications
  •  Strange Conduct

#8 – Antidepressants and Anxiety Medications

Though it isn’t always the case, some people mix drugs with alcohol as a means of handling certain mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. These individuals look towards drugs and alcohol in order to cope with life stressors and day-to-day problems. Ultimately, they’re worsening their mental health issues and can develop a Co-Occurring Disorder, or Dual Diagnosis. In these cases, drug or alcohol problems can be present at the same time as anxiety, depression, PTSD, Bipolar Disorders, or Personality Disorders (to name a few). This in itself has its dangers, such as the development of suicidal ideation.

Common antidepressants and anxiety medications include:

  •  Ativan
  •  BuSpar
  •  Celexa
  •  Klonopin
  •  Lexapro
  •  Luvox
  •  Prozac
  •  Valium
  •  Xanax
  •  Zoloft

Common effects from drinking on antidepressants and anxiety medication include:

  •  Dizziness
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Higher chance of overdose
  •  Increase in depression
  •  Impaired motor functioning
  •  Liver damage
  •  Memory complications
  •  Slowed breathing
  •  Strange conduct

It’s important to understand that substance abuse worsens mental health. There are number of people who find themselves in this position who had hoped to get be cured of their mental disorders and, ultimately, ended up worsening it. If you or anyone you love has been mixing alcohol with antidepressants or anxiety medications, it’s important you seek out help immediately. Below, we’ve provided a list of resources for you to look into which will provide solutions.

#7 – Mood Stabilizers

Similar to antidepressants and anxiety medication, a mood stabilizer is used for people who struggle with mental health. Particularly, those who experience intense mood shifts, such as those with a borderline personality disorder or a schizoaffective disorder. Often, these medications are extremely strong and come with a long list of side effects in and of themselves. When you mix this with alcohol, the list of possible negative side effects grows. Common side effects of mixing mood stabilizers with drink include:
  •  Depression
  •  Dizziness
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Impaired motor functioning
  •  Irregular bowel movements
  •  Joint pain
  •  Liver damage
  •  Loss of appetite
  •  Muscle pain
  •  Restlessness
  •  Tremors
  •  Upset stomach and nausea

Again, as with antidepressants and anxiety medication, people who mix their mood stabilizers with alcohol are not just increasing their chance of physical danger, they are also worsening their mental health condition. If you or a loved one is currently in this position, it’s important to consult a doctor and seek help.

#6 – Attention/Concentration Medications

These drugs are often prescribed to individuals facing ADHD, but have become a popular choice of abuse – namely, amongst college and high school students. The reason being is they are known to increase performance, especially on tasks that require concentration. These central nervous system stimulants allow users to focus for a long period of time, which can seem helpful during high-stress periods, such as finals week. These medications include:
  •  Adderall
  •  Concerta
  •  Ritalin
  •  Strattera
  •  Vyvanse

Still, just because many college students claim they’re using this medication with their schoolwork doesn’t mean that cognitive enhancement doesn’t comes with a price. 

Often, alcohol finds a way into the mix. The primary danger of this is these are two very different substances. Alcohol is a depressant while attention/concentration medication is a stimulant. Therefore, those who mix the two are causing their body’s to react in two entirely different ways. In turn, this can have negative consequences on the heart.

Other side effects of mixing alcohol with attention/concentration medication include:

  •  Difficulty concentrating
  •  Dizziness
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Increased risk of heart problems
  •  Liver damage

#5 – Marijuana

Some might be surprised to find marijuana on this list, as more studies are finding it doesn’t have many dangers and, in fact, has many medical purposes. Both marijuana and alcohol are downers and the combination of the two allows for heightened levels of relaxation. Though this may sound like a good sensation, it does have its dangers. For example, though you can’t die from marijuana alone, there’s potential for fatal consequence when you feel extremely relaxed and undergoing alcohol poisoning. In another example, some people find that weed keeps them from vomiting which, in turn, causes them to retain more alcohol. This is not only unhealthy in itself, but can also cause people to choke on their own vomit.

Marijuana and alcohol also enhance one another in terms of effects. Therefore, your ability to drive becomes a bigger issue and your nausea levels will increase. Other symptoms of mixing weed and booze include:

  •  Dizziness
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Paleness
  •  Severe illness
  •  Sweating
  •  Vomiting

#4 – LSD, Psilocybin, and Other Psychedelics

When it comes to psychedelic drugs such as LSD (or acid), psilocybin (mushrooms), or masculine, there are a variety of dangers in mixing alcohol. Not everybody reacts to psychoactive drugs the same way. The outcome of this combination all depends on your mental state and the environment in which you consume. However, the dangers are extreme.

Psychedelics are very unpredictable drugs. Those who take them never truly know where their mind is going to go. Alcohol only increases this uncertainty. Alcohol is well-known for impeding judgement and decreasing self-consciousness. Additionally, alcohol can increase raise likelihood of reckless conduct and self-danger psychedelics can bring. Furthermore, this kind of combination holds the potential of putting those around in harm.

Side effects for combining psychedelics and alcohol are:

  •  Blackouts
  •  Changes in mood
  •  Decreased perception and coordination
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Dry mouth
  •  Hallucinations
  •  Impaired judgement
  •  Loss of appetite
  •  Restlessness
  •  Slurred speech
  •  Vomiting

#3 – Crystal Meth

Just as with attention/concentration medications, crystal meth is a stimulant which has opposite effects to alcohol. Therefore, the dangers are in affecting your body in two polar opposite ways. A common behavioral complication from these effects using both alcohol and crystal meth in a binge-like pattern. By this, we mean, drinking and then taking crystal meth to “sober up” or vice versa.

As can be imagined, this kind of behavior comes at great physical and mental costs. These include:

  •  Cardiovascular diseases.
  •  Increased chance of accidents.
  •  Increased in chance of birth defect.
  •  Increased in chance of contracting HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.
  •  Increased in chance of suicide.
  •  Increased heart rate.
  •  High blood pressure.
  •  Seizures.

If you or someone you love has an addiction to both alcohol and crystal meth, it’s important you try to seek help as this can be a deadly concoction.

#2 – Heroin

Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs on the illicit market in and of itself. When you add alcohol to the mix, the dangers can increase. This is due to the fact that alcohol poisoning becomes a factor in addition to overdose risk. When you are high on heroin, you might not be aware of anything wrong happening to them. This can include, choking on vomit or having a seizure. This kind of combination can also be life-threatening.

Side effects from alcohol and heroin use include:

  •  Dizziness
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Impaired coordination
  •  Shallow breathing
  •  Slowed heart rate
  •  Tremors

A heroin addiction is very serious and can even cause alcohol addiction long after it’s treated. If you or a loved one is currently struggling with a heroin addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible in order to avoid the worst consequence.

#1 – Cocaine/Crack

There is one specific reason why mixing cocaine (or crack) with alcohol made it to #1. This is one of the most dangerous combinations: when these two substances are combined, they create a third substance called cocaethylene. Unfortunately, there is little to be known about this chemical in the science community. However, we do know the negative effects it can have over time.

Cocaethylene fastens to the liver and, over time, can build up to create many medical complications. Furthermore, there’s a high risk of heart attack due to cocaethylene – even in individuals under 40 years old. The biggest thing is this new formed chemical has an impact on the body and brain which can last a long period of time even after they reached sobriety.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment

No matter what drug and alcohol combination you participate in, it’s important to find treatment if you’re drinking and mixing drugs.  Alcohol known as “poly-drug use”, mixing drinking and drugs is a clear sign that things are not OK. In addition to all the dangers involved, it’s a cry for help.

But what does treatment look like?

Usually, drug and alcohol treatment is like a combo of adult ed and summer camp. Through treatment, you’ll detox from the substances and then enter therapies and counseling. So, first, you rid your body of the chemical concoctions and, then, you learn how to handle day-to-day living and life stressors without the use of drugs.

When going through treatment, you can expect to be offered:

  1.  A medical assessment which will inform doctors of your current condition.
  2.  The medical detox mentioned above.
  3.  Psychotherapies to teach you how to treat underlying issues, how to handle emotions, and how to reduce     cravings.
  4.  Pharmacotherapy as a means of easing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  5.  Educational sessions which will inform you of how to prevent relapse.
  6.  Aftercare services to provide support while you maintain sobriety.

What About Withdrawal?

Not everyone needs to go through withdrawal. However, regular drinkers or drug users will have developed “drug dependence”, which is a physical state of adaptation. During detox, you can expect to go through withdrawal when you’re drug-dependent which is your body returning to its natural, organic state. The withdrawal symptoms you experience and their severity depends on what drug(s) you’re dependent on and how much you use. When it comes to alcohol, common symptoms are:
  •  Agitation
  •  Anxiety
  •  Depression
  •  Difficulty concentrating
  •  Disorientation
  •  Fatigue
  •  Headache
  •  Heightened
  •  Irritability
  •  Jumpiness or shakiness
  •  Mood swings
  •  Nausea
  •  Nightmares
  •  Sweating
  •  Tremors
  •  Vomiting

Due to the fact that there are dangers involved, such as dehydration, it’s important you seek medical supervision ANYTIME YOU THINK YOU’LL TRIGGER WITHDRAWAL. This will ensure the safest, most comfortable detox, and offer you the best outcome for your overall health. Detox clinics can prescribe you medications – when appropriate – for withdrawal symptoms. They’ll also supervise side effects and prevent complications. 24-7 medical supervision can also help support you and prevent relapse!

Furthermore, you’ll need to start thinking over the long-term. After initial detox, some symptoms can linger for weeks or months. In some cases, you may experience post-acute or protracted withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). This is when you experience withdrawal symptoms after the usual timeline (which is around a week). These symptoms include:

  •  Anxiety
  •  Depression
  •  Increased blood pressure and pulse
  •  Increased body temperature
  •  Increased breathing rate
  •  Sleep disruption
  •  Tremor

Where to Find Help

If you’re unsure as to where to turn, there are a variety of options for getting help. To begin, you might wonder where to go. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), you can consult any of the following:
  • An alcohol and addictions counselor
  • A licensed clinical social worker
  • A licensed clinical psychologist
  • A psychiatrist
  • A professional interventionist

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Contact your family doctor or a general physician to get the best references for addiction treatment centers      that are near your living area.
  • Call the SAMHSA Hotline at 1-800- 662-HELP (4357). Check different types of treatment programs and their    requirements, so you can choose which one best suits your needs.
  • Search for detox clinics or treatment centers of SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator.
  • Seek a referral from close friends or family.
  • Look for support groups that will be part of your treatment program.

For a more concise internet search, you can check out these options:

If you’re looking to talk to someone immediately, you can check out the following Helplines:

  •  Drug Hotline 877-736-9802
  •  National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence HopeLine 1-800-475-HOPE (4673)
  •  National Institute on Drug Abuse – Drug and Treatment Information 1-800-622-4357
  •  National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  •  Substance Abuse Helpline (available 24/7) 1-800-923-4327

Furthermore, you can always call us on the phone number listed on this page. The telephone number listed on this page will connect you to by American Addiction Centers (AAC). Caring admissions consultants are standing by to discuss your treatment options, which can include family intervention specialists. The helpline is offered at no cost and with no obligation to enter treatment.

We’re happy to help!

Your Questions

If you have any further questions about dangerous drug and alcohol combinations, we invite you to ask them below. If you have any advice to give pertaining to this topic, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each real-life question!
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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