An alcoholic beverage every now and then may be just what the doctor ordered — unless you're taking certain medications. Downing a drink when you're taking these drugs may produce dangerous side effects — and your risk increases as you age. Not only does the body get slower at eliminating medication, but the number of drugs you take also typically increases.
1. Pain meds, sedatives and sleeping pills
Such as: Demerol, Percocet, Vicodin (for pain); Valium, Ativan, Klonopin (for anxiety and epilepsy); Ambien, Lunesta, Prosom (for sleeping)
Potential reactions with alcohol: drowsiness, dizziness, slowed or difficult breathing, impaired motor control, unusual behavior, and problems with your memory, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In rare instances, interactions can also lead to serious harm or even death. Lewis Nelson, M.D., professor of emergency medicine at NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, also points out that with extended-release meds there are concerns about a reaction called "dumping of dose," which means drinking alcohol may cause an entire day's worth of medicine to be released into your system at once, greatly upping your risk of side effects.
2. Arthritis meds
Such as: Celebrex, Naprosyn, Voltaren
Potential reactions with alcohol: ulcers, stomach bleeding, liver damage. Alcohol should be avoided if taking Celebrex, in particular, because the medication already causes a higher risk of cardiovascular side effects, such as heart attacks and strokes, and alcohol increases that risk.
3. Blood clot meds
Such as: Coumadin