Can You Mix Alcohol and Benadryl?

Alcohol and Benadryl are two substances that are commonly used, but they shouldn’t be used at the same time. Below we’ll answer “can you mix alcohol and Benadryl,” and provide more information on the possible side effects of an alcohol and Benadryl combination.

Benadryl pill bottle and a glass of alcohol are displayed next to each other.

Before going into the details of alcohol and Benadryl interactions, however, Benadryl is an over-the-counter medication that’s used for the treatment of allergies, hay fever and the common cold, Unfortunately, since Benadryl can be purchased without a prescription, people tend to have the misconception that it’s completely safe. Benadryl is safe when used as instructed, but there are situations where it might not be.

Benadryl is the brand name of the diphenhydramine antihistamine. Histamine is something found in your body that plays a role in how you respond to allergens, so if you react to an allergen, it’s because of the action of the histamine. An antihistamine, by contrast, blocks your response to allergens, and it also affects your central nervous system, which is a big part of why alcohol and Benadryl can be a dangerous combination.

Even without the combination of alcohol and Benadryl, the following are some of the side effects of this over-the-counter medicine:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Blurry vision

It’s also possible, as with most other medicines, that you could experience severe side effects such as an allergic reaction or even seizures, although this is rare. Because of the fact that Benadryl makes you sleepy, there are some people who use it as a way to help them fall asleep, or they may use recurrently.

While the specific outcomes that are possible with a combination of alcohol and Benadryl are discussed below, other drug interactions are possible as well. For example, if you take anything else that causes drowsiness you are supposed to speak with your doctor about taking Benadryl.

This can include opioid medications, anxiety medicines, sleep drugs, muscle relaxants or other antihistamines. It may also be possible to overdose on Benadryl and symptoms can include extreme drowsiness, large pupils, mood changes, or seizures.

In short the answer to “can you mix alcohol and Benadryl” is no, but why is that? The most important thing to understand about alcohol and Benadryl is that they are both depressants of the central nervous system. If you take them both at the same time, your central nervous system (CNS) can slow to the point that you face serious consequences.

The effects of alcohol and Benadryl combined can heighten the adverse side effects of both, and you may end up unconscious as a result. Some other milder side effects of combining alcohol and Benadryl can include nausea, vomiting and extreme dizziness.

If you mix alcohol and Benadryl and you have a breathing issue such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, you may experience respiratory depression. If you combine alcohol and Benadryl for long period of time—for example, you use this combination to fall asleep every night, not only is it potentially habit-forming but you may suffer from cardiac problems and internal bleeding.

If you mix alcohol and Benadryl and attempt to drive or operate machinery, you’re putting your life at risk, as well as the lives of the people around you. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that the use of Benadryl can impair your ability to stay awake at the wheel more than alcohol, and if you combine alcohol and Benadryl the risks are significantly higher.

People react differently to substances, and one group who should especially heed warnings about alcohol and Benadryl are seniors. The combination of alcohol and Benadryl can slow down coordination and motor function, while also contributing to dizziness and sedation. This increases the risk of falls in seniors.

The combination of alcohol and Benadryl can be so problematic that people are warned to look for alcohol in other medicines before taking Benadryl, because of the possible interactions. For example, cough syrups and laxatives often have up to 10 percent alcohol content, and this can be a dangerous combination with Benadryl.

Along with alcohol and Benadryl risks, people who are using opioids should also be incredibly cautious with the use of Benadryl. An opioid epidemic is gripping the nation, and even if you use opioids as prescribed by your doctor and you combine them with Benadryl, it can slow your respiration to a dangerous or deadly level.

Before taking Benadryl if you regularly drink alcohol or any other medications, prescription or otherwise, you should speak with your doctor. It’s also important not to abuse Benadryl or use it as a sleep aid, or in any way other than how it’s intended to be used.

To sum up, can you mix alcohol and Benadryl? The answer is no. You shouldn’t mix alcohol and Benadryl because of the way both substances impact the central nervous system and slow its activity.