You probably never thought twice about having an alcoholic beverage while using an over-the-counter daytime cold and flu medication. Why would you? There’s no alcohol in the medicine, right? While that is true, it’s the other ingredients in DayQuil that you need to watch out for.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s In DayQuil?
- 2 The Danger of Using Alcohol and DayQuil Together
- 3 Acetaminophen Can Be Dangerous?
- 4 What’s DXM?
- 5 A Serious Problem
- 6 Drinking Alcohol After Taking DayQuil
- 7 Using Other Meds With Alcohol
- 8 Treatment for DXM/Alcohol Addiction
- 9 Treatment Programs
- 10 Think You Have a Problem?
- 11 References:
What’s In DayQuil?
Although Dayquil Cold & Flu is a popular cold medicine, is typically used as a decongestant, cough suppressant, and fever reducer, it contains ingredients that can interact with other substances, including alcohol. DayQuil comes in several formulas and many contain active ingredients, the drugs dextromethorphan(a cough suppressant) and acetaminophen(a pain reliever), it may also contain phenylephrine(a decongestant). These ingredients are not safe to use in combination with alcohol. For people who are struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s best to be wary and avoid all medications that contain acetaminophen or dextromethorphan.
The Danger of Using Alcohol and DayQuil Together
If you’re taking DayQuil and continuing to drink alcohol, you take the chance of developing:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Damage to your liver
Consuming high doses can lead to:
- High blood pressure
Acetaminophen Can Be Dangerous?
One of the important ingredients in DayQuil is acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is sold under the brand name Tylenol and is the most common medication ingredient in the country. It can be found in over 600 different medications including many popular over-the-counter medications. It is even safe for children. But although it is good at relieving pain and reducing fever, it can also be toxic for your liver.
The truth is, the main cause of acute liver failure in the United States is acetaminophen overdose. It is also the second leading cause of liver transplantation due to liver failure. So, taking acetaminophen, or medicine that contains it, and drinking alcohol (also hard on your liver), increases your prospect of liver damage. Procter & Gamble, the maker of DayQuil, has issued the precaution not to drink at all while using DayQuil, particularly if you have been a heavy or regular drinker.
Side Effects of Combining Alcohol and Acetaminophen
- Joint swelling or pain
- Extreme weakness or fatigue
- Abnormal bruising or bleeding
- Appetite loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Yellowing of the skin and in the whites of the eyes
Acetaminophen and Liver Damage
The problem of using too much acetaminophen or combining it with alcohol comes from how your body breaks down acetaminophen. When the liver processes acetaminophen, it is broken down into various substances. These substances are mostly removed in our urine. However, one of them is known as NAPQI, and it is particularly tough on your liver.
Fortunately, when acetaminophen is used in safe amounts, the body is able to deal with the harmful effects of NAPQI. A strong antioxidant called glutathione is used by the liver to effectively neutralize the NAPQI and keep it from damaging your liver cells. Unfortunately, people who drink heavily (3 or more drinks a day) cause glutathione levels to sink, allowing NAPQI to build up to dangerous levels. This is what damages liver cells. This also means that chronic drinkers have a higher risk for an unintentional acetaminophen overdose which can wind up in severe liver damage or liver failure.
Acetaminophen Overdose Symptoms
- Pain in the abdomen
- Appetite loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin
DXM is dextromethorphan. It’s the ingredient in DayQuil that works as a cough suppressant and it too is unsafe when combined with alcohol.
DXM Side Effects
- Concentration problems
- Nausea and vomiting
When you combine alcohol and DayQuil, these side effects get even worse including a decline in thinking and judgment capabilities. These side effects illustrate why you aren’t supposed to take part in activities that require you to be mentally alert–like driving or operating hazardous machinery.
Unfortunately, a common problem of teens in the U.S. is the abuse of products that contain DXM. It’s popular to use excessive amounts of the drug for its psychoactive effects. This practice is called “robotripping” or “skittling.” Due to the large number of teens abusing DXM, some states have banned children under the age of 18 from buying over-the-counter medicine that contains dextromethorphan.
Side Effects of Robotripping
- Hallucinations (visual and auditory)
- Slurred speech
- Heavy sweating
- Loss of coordination
- Increased blood pressure
Consuming high doses of DXM with alcohol may cause these effects:
- Shallow breathing
- Coma which may lead to death
DXM Overdose Symptoms
- Pounding or rapid heartbeat
- Problems breathing (slow, shallow, difficult)
- Intestinal and stomach contractions
- Elevated body temperature
- Coma which may lead to death
NyQuil and Other Nighttime Medications
Another popular cold and flu medication is NyQuil. Made by the same manufacturer as DayQuil, NyQuil is the version meant for nighttime use. It has the same risks plus more because of its additional ingredients. Considering the adverse effects these products can have on your health, it’s recommended not to drink alcohol when using DayQuil or NyQuil. However, if you have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and find it too hard to stop drinking, it’s safer to avoid the DayQuil and just rough it through your cold or flu.
DXM Withdrawal Symptoms
DXM is technically considered non-addictive, but if it’s used excessively, it is far from safe. If you’re struggling to quit DXM, you may need professional help. DXM withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, although they aren’t generally life-threatening. Symptoms include:
- Bone and muscle aches
- Cold flashes
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Unlike DXM, alcohol can be very addictive. If you are also suffering from AUD, it’s likely that you will need a medically supervised detox to withdraw from alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal can be very difficult and may be life-threatening. Symptoms include:
- Shaky hands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme sweating
- Delusions and hallucinations
- DTs (delirium tremens)
A Serious Problem
Robotripping can be intensified by introducing alcohol to the situation. It’s common for people to use dextromethorphan all day long to maintain a persistent high. Doing this can cause you to develop a tolerance, including a physical and psychological dependence on DXM and alcohol.
Drinking Alcohol After Taking DayQuil
The effects of DayQuil last about 4 to 6 hours, depending on how you’re feeling. Although it’s not recommended to drink while using DayQuil, you could have a drink 4 to 6 hours after your last dose. A single drink of alcohol, however, can last in your body for about 3 hours. Therefore, it’s best to wait about 3 hours before taking another dose of DayQuil.
If you take a dose of DayQuil at 8:00 a.m., you should be safe to have a drink by 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. If you have that drink at 2:00, you will need to wait until at least 5:00 to take more DayQuil. Then you will need to wait until 11:00 p.m. for another drink etc. If that’s not enough to make you think twice about it, remember, the time periods vary from person to person.
Using Other Meds With Alcohol
There are hundreds of prescription and OTC medications that aren’t safe to use with alcohol. The hazards of mixing alcohol with medicine can vary from increasing side effects to life-threatening symptoms, overdose, and death.
Combining alcohol with products meant to treat a cough can cause:
- Loss of coordination
That’s because one of the ingredients in most cough medicines is DXM. As previously described, it can cause extreme sedation and respiratory depression. This mixture can be especially serious and has the potential to be deadly if the medicine also contains alcohol.
Drinking alcohol can affect your blood sugar levels. And drinking alcohol with your diabetes medications can magnify the effect. You may experience symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
- Blood pressure fluctuations
Drinking alcohol while taking medications for heartburn, whether OTC or prescription, can cause tachycardia, and sudden blood pressure changes.
Medication for High Blood Pressure
These symptoms may result if you combine hypertension medication and alcohol:
- Dizziness and fainting
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
If you have a medical condition or an injury that causes muscle spasms or pain, you might be taking medication to relax them. Muscle relaxers and alcohol are both depressants and when mixed can affect your central nervous system (CNS). Your CNS controls your heart, lung, and brain functions.
Opioid Pain Medications
One of the most lethal combinations is alcohol and opioid pain medications. Alcohol escalates the side effects of opioids and increases the possibility of a fatal overdose. That being said, these are some side effects of opioids when used alone:
- Impaired or slow breathing
- Loss of motor skills
- Abnormal behavior
- Loss of memory
Treatment for DXM/Alcohol Addiction
There aren’t any medications specifically for the treatment of DXM addiction. But if you have a co-occurring alcohol use disorder, you will need a more in-depth treatment plan. There are medications approved for treating alcohol withdrawal and proven methods for detoxing from alcohol addiction.
In the treatment options of any substance use disorder (SUD), the use of behavioral therapies has proved to be one of the most effective methods. Common behavior therapies for addiction treatment are:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an approach to treatment that has substantial scientific evidence that its methods do produce change. CBT includes efforts to change thinking patterns by using these strategies:
- Learn to recognize your faulty thinking that is creating problems and then reevaluate in the light of reality
- Gain an understanding of the motivation and behavior of other people
- Use problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations
- Learn to develop confidence in your abilities
- Face your fears instead of avoiding them
- Learn to calm your mind and relax your body
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The main goals are to teach individuals how to:
- Live in the moment
- Establish healthy ways to cope with stress
- Regulate their emotions
- Improve relationships with other people
Originally meant to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT has been adapted to treat other mental health conditions including substance abuse disorders. DBT is often used in other settings such as:
- Group Therapy: People are taught behavioral skills in a group setting
- Individual Therapy: Individuals work closely with a therapist to explore any underlying causes for addiction and to learn behavioral skills that can be adapted to their personal life.
If you need a treatment program for an AUD, a DXM addiction, or a combination of both, there are usually several levels of care available. Many times, people need a medically supervised detox before entering a treatment program. This depends on the severity of the addiction and the associated withdrawal symptoms. Contingent on your needs and wants, you may opt for:
Residential Treatment Program
This is the highest level of care where you will live at the treatment facility. If you have a severe, long-term addiction, you may need the safety, security, and total structure of a residential program.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
While technically an outpatient program, a PHP falls between residential and outpatient treatment. In a PHP you spend 7 days a week at the treatment facility, but you return to your home in the evenings.
Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and regular Outpatient (OP) Programs
The difference between these two programs is the number of days and hours spent at the treatment facility.
Think You Have a Problem?
Do you suspect that you or a loved one has a problem with DXM or alcohol? You wouldn’t be the first or the last. At Miracles Recovery Center we understand and have made it our calling to design treatment programs specifically for each individual. We can provide several levels of care, therapy programs, and specialized therapy for seniors, women, and young adults. Contact us today. You have everything to gain.
Can you drink on DayQuil?
It’s not recommended to mix alcohol with DayQuil or any other over-the-counter cold and flu medications. Both alcohol and these medications can have an effect on your central nervous system, potentially causing drowsiness, dizziness, and slowed reaction times. This interaction can intensify these side effects, making it unsafe to drive or operate machinery.
Moreover, some cold and flu medications, including DayQuil, contain acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol in some countries), which can cause liver damage if taken in large amounts or used frequently. Alcohol also puts strain on the liver, so combining the two can increase this risk.
In general, it’s always a good idea to read the labels of any medications you’re taking to check for potential interactions and to talk to a healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your medication.
How long after taking DayQuil can you drink alcohol?
As a rule of thumb, it’s generally recommended to avoid alcohol for at least 4 to 6 hours after taking a dose of DayQuil, but the safest course of action is to wait until your body is completely free of the medication. DayQuil typically lasts in your system for about 4 to 6 hours, so waiting at least this long would be prudent.
However, this recommendation can vary depending on your personal health status, your liver’s health, and the amount of alcohol you plan to consume. For those with liver disease, any alcohol consumption could be dangerous, especially when combined with a medication like DayQuil.
Please keep in mind that it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for advice tailored to your specific situation. Avoiding alcohol while you’re sick and taking medication is generally the safest course of action.
Can you mix Alcohol and DayQuil together?
It is not recommended to mix alcohol and DayQuil together. DayQuil is an over-the-counter cold and flu medicine that contains a combination of active ingredients, including dextromethorphan, acetaminophen, and phenylephrine. Mixing alcohol with DayQuil can increase the risk of adverse side effects and reduce the effectiveness of the medication.
Alcohol can intensify the drowsiness caused by dextromethorphan, which may impair your ability to perform tasks that require alertness. Combining alcohol with acetaminophen can increase the risk of liver damage, as both substances are metabolized by the liver. Additionally, alcohol may exacerbate the blood pressure-increasing effects of phenylephrine, potentially leading to cardiovascular issues.
To ensure your safety and the effectiveness of the medication, it is best to avoid consuming alcohol while taking DayQuil. If you have concerns about potential interactions, consult with a healthcare professional before using the medication.
What are the potential side effects of mixing Alcohol and DayQuil?
Mixing alcohol and DayQuil can increase the risk of several adverse side effects, some of which can be potentially dangerous. Potential side effects include:
- Drowsiness and impaired coordination: Alcohol can intensify the drowsiness caused by dextromethorphan, an active ingredient in DayQuil. This may lead to impaired coordination, decreased reaction time, and an increased risk of accidents or falls.
- Liver damage: Combining alcohol with acetaminophen, another active ingredient in DayQuil, can increase the risk of liver damage. Both substances are metabolized by the liver, and excessive consumption of either can cause liver toxicity. Mixing the two may further stress the liver, potentially leading to acute liver failure in severe cases.
- Increased blood pressure and cardiovascular risks: Phenylephrine, a decongestant in DayQuil, can raise blood pressure. Alcohol consumption may exacerbate this effect, increasing the risk of cardiovascular issues such as heart attack or stroke, particularly in individuals with pre-existing hypertension.
- Reduced medication effectiveness: Mixing alcohol with DayQuil may reduce the effectiveness of the medication, making it less able to alleviate cold and flu symptoms.
- Gastrointestinal issues: Combining alcohol with DayQuil can cause stomach irritation and increase the risk of gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
If you suspect an interaction or experience any concerning side effects after mixing alcohol and DayQuil, seek medical attention promptly. To avoid potential complications, it is best not to mix the two substances.
How does alcohol consumption affect the effectiveness of DayQuil?
Alcohol consumption can negatively impact the effectiveness of DayQuil in several ways:
- Impairing the immune system: Alcohol can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight off infections such as colds and the flu. Consuming alcohol while taking DayQuil may counteract the medication's intended purpose of alleviating cold and flu symptoms.
- Interfering with medication absorption: Alcohol can affect the absorption of certain medications in the gastrointestinal tract, potentially reducing the effectiveness of DayQuil.
- Enhanced drowsiness: Alcohol can increase the drowsiness caused by dextromethorphan, an active ingredient in DayQuil, which may lead to impaired coordination and decreased alertness. This can make it more difficult for the body to recover from illness.
- Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can cause dehydration by increasing urine production. Dehydration can exacerbate cold and flu symptoms, making it more difficult for DayQuil to effectively alleviate them.
To ensure the best results from DayQuil and promote a faster recovery from cold and flu symptoms, it is recommended to avoid alcohol consumption while taking the medication.
What is the recommended time gap between consuming alcohol and taking DayQuil?
There is no specific time gap universally recommended between consuming alcohol and taking DayQuil, as the appropriate time frame may vary depending on factors such as the individual’s age, weight, metabolism, and the amount of alcohol consumed. However, it is generally advised to wait until the alcohol has been eliminated from your system before taking DayQuil to reduce the risk of interactions and side effects.
On average, the liver metabolizes one standard drink per hour, with a standard drink containing approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol. This is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. The rate of alcohol metabolism can vary between individuals, so it is essential to consider your own body’s response when determining an appropriate time gap.
As a general guideline, waiting at least several hours after consuming alcohol before taking DayQuil is advised. In cases of heavy alcohol consumption, it may be more prudent to wait until the following day to take DayQuil to ensure the alcohol has been sufficiently cleared from your system.
If you are unsure about the appropriate time gap for your specific situation or have concerns about potential interactions, consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Are there any safer alternatives to DayQuil that can be used with alcohol?
While it is generally not advisable to mix any medications with alcohol, there are some alternative treatments for cold and flu symptoms that may have fewer potential interactions with alcohol. However, it is important to remember that consuming alcohol while experiencing cold or flu symptoms can hinder your body's ability to recover and exacerbate symptoms like dehydration.
Some alternative options include:
- Saline nasal spray: This can help alleviate nasal congestion without the potential for interactions with alcohol.
- Warm liquids: Drinking warm liquids such as tea, warm water with honey and lemon, or broth can help soothe a sore throat and provide some relief from congestion.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen may be used to relieve pain and fever. However, it is crucial to avoid mixing these medications with alcohol, as it can increase the risk of gastrointestinal issues and liver damage.
- Gargling with salt water: Gargling with a warm saltwater solution can help soothe a sore throat.
- Rest and hydration: Prioritizing rest and staying well-hydrated is essential when recovering from a cold or the flu. Drinking water or electrolyte-rich fluids can help counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
It is important to remember that alcohol can impair your immune system, making it more challenging to recover from illness. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, it is generally best to avoid alcohol consumption altogether. Consult a healthcare professional if you are unsure about the safety of combining specific medications with alcohol or if you have concerns about potential interactions.