The holiday season is a time of celebration and merry-making. It’s easy to become swept up in the excitement and forget things that are simple yet important. It can also be easy to forget, when enjoying the holiday festivities, that your prescription drugs don’t mix well with alcohol.

Mixing alcohol with prescription medicine can bring your celebration to a screeching halt and put your health at risk. Even when they’re not taken around the same time, the mixture of prescription drugs and alcohol can result in harmful consequences, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Understanding the dangers of mixing prescription drugs and holiday drinking is imperative to keeping yourself or a loved one safe during holiday celebrations. In addition to talking with your doctor about what you should avoid, the following considerations will help you celebrate safely this holiday season. After all, you or your loved one’s health should take precedence over tradition.

What Happens When Prescription Drugs and Alcohol Are Mixed

A drug interaction happens when two or more drugs (including alcohol) react with one another, states the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A reaction can be inconvenient, such as feeling sleepy or experiencing a slower reaction time. Reactions such as these might feel like mere annoyances until you get behind the wheel; then they become dangerous to you and others around you.

Combining prescription drugs and alcohol can pose another dangerous problem that many people don’t think of. It can also negate the effects of the medicine you’re taking, says the Office of Drug and Alcohol Education at the University of Notre Dame. A person who relies on prescription medicine to prevent health issues, such as a seizure, can also put themselves in grave danger by drinking alcohol. There’s really only one way to avoid experiencing a drug interaction, and that’s to refrain from alcohol use if you must take prescription medication.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Combining Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

    • Keep those Around You Informed. There’s no shame in taking prescription medication for a health condition. Those you’ll be celebrating the season with are likely to care enough about you that they want you to be healthy. Clue them in on potential dangers by letting them know you’ve got to be careful what you drink or abstain from alcohol, altogether.


    • Plan for Holiday Events. There are plenty of ways to celebrate that won’t lead to an interaction of prescription drugs and alcohol. Accept invitations to parties that won’t serve alcohol, or invite friends and family members over and make the games, good food and conversation the focus of your get-together.


    • Provide Your Own Alternatives. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests enjoying non-alcoholic versions of your favorite drink. Offer to bring some to a party you plan to attend.


  • Enlist Someone to Watch Your Back. If you’re new to taking prescription medicine, it can be easy to forget about not mixing it with alcohol. Have someone in your circle remind you to avoid making a costly mistake.

If Prescription Drugs and Holiday Drinking are Mixed…

At the very least, call your doctor’s office and, if symptoms of a drug interaction appear, seek medical help. Mixing prescription drugs and alcohol can become a method of stress-relief that leads to dependence. Stay plugged into a support network throughout the holidays, if you’re in recovery.

If you or someone you care about is mixing prescription drugs and alcohol regularly, professional assistance and support can be pivotal in regaining a healthy lifestyle.