Substance Use

Nyquil and Alcohol: Understanding The Risks

nyquil bottles

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Can You Mix Nyquil and Alcohol?

Mixing Nyquil with alcohol can increase your risks of liver damage and alcohol poisoning. It can also lead to more intense side effects like impaired judgment, confusion, and dizziness.

Nyquil is a cold and flu medication available over the counter without a prescription. It’s popular for its ability to help relieve common symptoms, like coughing, congestion, and fever. It has a number of active ingredients, all of which can be harmful when mixed with alcohol.

When taking over-the-counter medications for flu symptoms or anything else, you should be mindful about what you take with them. Medications shouldn’t be mixed without first talking to your doctor, and you should generally never drink alcohol while taking a medication.

Here’s what you need to know about Nyquil and the harmful side effects of mixing Nyquil products with alcohol.

If you or someone you love is taking risky moves to try and get drunk, Zinnia Health can help. We offer treatment for alcohol abuse to help individuals overcome addiction and get on the path to living a long, fulfilling life. Call our addiction help hotline at (855) 430-9439 and get answers to your questions.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

What is in Nyquil?

Nyquil is a liquid medication designed to help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of the cold and flu. Nyquil products include Nyquil “Cold and Flu” and Nyquil “Severe Cold and Flu.” The latter has a higher concentration of medicine. 

There are a number of active ingredients in Nyquil, all added to help reduce cold symptoms. They include:

  • Acetaminophen: A pain reliever and fever reducer that works by blocking the production of prostaglandins in the body. Acetaminophen is available in many OTC products and in prescription form.
  • Dextromethorphan: A cough suppressant often found in OTC cold medications.
  • Doxylamine succinate: An antihistamine that prevents sneezing, itching, and runny nose related to allergies. It can also have sedative effects.
  • Phenylephrine: A decongestant that reduces nasal swelling and congestion.

In addition to these active ingredients, Nyquil also contains 10 percent alcohol, but an alcohol-free version is available.

Side Effects of Mixing Nyquil and Alcohol

Like most OTC medications, Nyquil is not approved for long-term use, but it’s considered completely safe to take the proper dose if you’re experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms. However, you need to be sure that you’re avoiding alcoholic beverages if you’re planning to take Nyquil.

The active ingredients in Nyquil have known interactions with alcohol, which means they shouldn’t be mixed.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means it slows down your breathing and increases your response time. Taking a dose of Nyquil with a drink can amplify the effects of both alcohol and all of the medications in Nyquil, which can lead to: 

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Sleepiness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Reduced coordination
  • Difficulty breathing

Do not think about mixing Nyquil and alcohol to help you sleep as the interaction can be dangerous. If Nyquil isn’t strong enough on its own, reach out to your healthcare provider and they may be able to prescribe a flu nighttime relief liquid that can overcome your symptoms and help you sleep safely.

Are you worried about alcohol addiction? Zinnia Health can help. Our team of addiction specialists can answer your questions on substance abuse and alcohol use. If you’re ready to take the next step, call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 for more information.

Dangers of Drinking Alcohol and Nyquil

The biggest danger of mixing Vicks Nyquil with alcohol is the risk of severe liver damage. Alcohol and the active ingredients in Nyquil all put immense stress on the liver, and combining them all together only adds to the equation.

It’s also critical to note that if you are mixing alcohol and cough medicine while suffering from a cold or flu, you’re weakening your immune system and making it harder for your body to overcome whatever sickness you’re fighting.

With that in mind, some people mix Nyquil and alcohol on purpose, trying to amplify the short-term effects of alcohol. If you’re doing this, it’s important to consider the long-term effects and risks, which include an increased risk of alcohol poisoning.

If you are routinely mixing substances like alcohol and Robitussin or Nyquil cold medicine, then it could be a sign of alcohol use disorder. If you haven’t sought out a mental health professional to help you understand your behavior and the dangers of alcohol addiction, it may be time to take that step. 

Effects of Nyquil or Alcohol Poisoning

Nyquil contains 10% alcohol. In normal doses, that isn’t enough to harm you. However, if you mix Nyquil with alcohol, especially in high doses, you are putting yourself at an increased risk of alcohol poisoning and liver problems.

Additionally, the various active ingredients in Nyquil come with their own risks when mixed with alcohol. For example:

  • When acetaminophen is mixed with alcohol, you are at a higher risk of liver damage, stomach ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • When dextromethorphan or doxylamine succinate is mixed with alcohol, you are at a higher risk of respiratory depression and injuries caused by reduced coordination and judgment
  • When phenylephrine is mixed with alcohol, you are likely to experience a rapid heart rate, increased body temperature, and impaired coordination

Due to the high potential of medical emergencies like alcohol poisoning when mixing products like Nyquil, it’s important to know the signs. These include trouble breathing, confusion, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.

Alcohol poisoning can also diminish a person’s gag reflex, which leaves them vulnerable to choking, especially if they pass out and vomit while laying down.

Getting Help With Alcohol Addiction

Mixing alcohol with other substances is a sign of alcohol use disorder, also known as alcohol addiction.

If you or a loved one is experimenting with alcohol use or drinking a lot, it’s important to get help sooner rather than later, before drinking turns into an irreversible health concern.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available for individuals looking to recover from alcohol use, including:

  • Recovering in a hospital setting with 24/7 support from medical personnel
  • Staying in a residential rehab center with comfortable, home-like accommodations and around-the-clock support 
  • Participating in flexible outpatient programs so that you can continue living at home
  • Working with a provider to come up with a customized plan that best fits your needs.

At Zinnia Health, we believe that every individual should have access to quality medical attention combined with one-on-one, confidential support. That’s why we offer an LGBTQ+ friendly environment that is safe and welcoming to all.

Ready to take the next step? Zinnia Health is standing by to help. Our team is available 24/7 to answer your questions. Just dial (855) 430-9439 to get started.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us