Nyquil and Alcohol: Can You Take Nyquil After Drinking?

Nyquil is just one of many over-the-counter drugs used to help with cold symptoms. As accessible as Nyquil and other drugs like it is, there is still room for abuse, especially when combined with alcohol. Cold and cough medicines are sometimes abused by teens to get high but combining Nyquil and alcohol can be a dangerous combination. It is important to read the label to avoid mixing alcohol with other medications such as Nyquil.

We’ll be exploring can you take Nyquil after drinking and some of the effects that can occur when Nyquil and alcohol are combined. It’s important to be aware of the dangers that can arise from mixing medication like Nyquil and alcohol. If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol, Kingsway Recovery is here to help.

What is Nyquil?

Nyquil is an over-the-counter medication that’s used to treat cough and cold symptoms. The ingredients in Nyquil are made to remedy sleep issues a person may be having as well. As with other over-the-counter medications, there are several different versions of Nyquil, each containing different components.

Nyquil contains several different drug elements. Each one is a combination of:

  • Dextromethorphan – Cough suppressant (also called DXM)
  • Acetaminophen – A pain reliever that is found in Tylenol
  • Doxylamine – A antihistamine typically used to help relieve allergies and sleep problems

It is also important to note that some versions of Nyquil contain alcohol. Particularly Nyquil cold and flu nighttime relief (liquid), which contains around 10% alcohol by volume.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol, also specifically known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, is the ingredient that’s found in wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is considered to be a ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug and a depressant. When drunk at higher doses, alcohol depresses the central nervous system (CNS). At lower doses, alcohol acts as a stimulant.

It is important to know that drinking too much alcohol can cause several intense symptoms such as slowed breathing (respiratory depression), coma, drowsiness, and even death. It is always best to drink responsibility and reach out for emergency help if a person is undergoing these effects. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism (alcohol use disorder), it may be time to reach out to a professional rehab center like Kingsway.

Can You Mix NyQuil and Alcohol?

Can you take Nyquil after drinking and should you mix Nyquil and alcohol? The answer to these questions is no, you shouldn’t. Alcohol can end up amplifying the effects of NyQuil and some of the ingredients that can be found in it. This can end up causing negative results and consequences. To understand better what makes NyQuil, let’s take a look at some of the active ingredients and what they are used for.


Acetaminophen is a drug that aims to reduce pain and help with fevers. It is a combination of OTC and prescription medications. One of the more common forms is the tablet form (Tylenol). One of the things that both Acetaminophen and alcohol have in common is that they are both metabolized by the liver. Consuming too much of either can cause liver damage, so one can imagine that combining both can be problematic.

This can be especially problematic if a person consumed large amounts of alcohol at a time. This can end up leading to severe liver damage.

Dextromethorphan (DXM)

DXM acts as a cough suppressant and can be found in several over-the-counter medications. When a person takes DXM as instructed, it can help reduce coughing in the individual. However, if a person takes DXM at higher doses, this can create the sensation of being drunk among other symptoms. As with Acetaminophen, this is only amplified when a person mixes it with alcohol.

Doxylamine Succinate

Doxylamine succinate is effective against runny nose and sneezing. It is one of the many components of NyQuil that can make a person sleepy or drowsy. Alcohol on its own is a depressant, which gives off sedative effects to the person. Doxylamine also gives off sedative effects, so combining the two can be very dangerous in some instances.

Short-Term Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Nyquil

There are several side effects that can arise when a person mixes NyQuil and alcohol, these include:

  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble with coordination
  • Upset stomach
  • Increased drowsiness

With increased use and high dosage of either, a person can experience massive stress on the liver. This is why a person should stay away from mixing the two. The result can be increased damage to the liver and other parts of the body as well. As with other medications, it’s important to not mix drugs or alcohol in general to avoid short and long-term effects.

What to Do If You’ve Mixed NyQuil and Alcohol

In the case that you or a loved one have already mixed alcohol and NyQuil, it is recommended to stop all intake of alcohol at that moment. Stopping alcohol consumption can help stop the uncomfortable side effects of mixing the two. As far as quantity goes, if you only had one or two drinks around the time that you’ve taken Nyquil, there shouldn’t be much worry. However, if you have consumed more than that, it might be best to get medical attention to be cautious.

If you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms after consuming alcohol and Nyquil, it is best to get medical attention immediately:

  • Sudden and extreme feelings of sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Agitation or irritable
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate (rapid heartbeat)
  • Hallucinations

Similar Medications to Avoid Mixing with Alcohol

NyQuil is not the only OTC medication you should look out for when drinking alcohol. Acetaminophen should not be mixed with alcohol because it is essentially doubling up on alcohol. This can cause liver damage among other problems. There are several different medications that may also have acetaminophen in them.

It is best to read the label carefully of any OTC drugs that you or your loved ones may be taking. This information can usually be found under the ingredients section on the bottle. If you see it does include acetaminophen, it is best to avoid it if you know you’ll be drinking. Along with NyQuil, here are a few over-the-counter medications that may contain acetaminophen:

  • Robitussin
  • Dimetapp
  • Theraflu
  • Excedrin

When it comes to prescription drugs, there are certain brands that contain acetaminophen as well, so it’s important to look out for these. Percocet and Vicodin are two commonly prescribed medications. If you are unsure if the medication that you are using contains acetaminophen, it may be best to speak to your doctor or medical provider.

Alcohol and Prescription Medication Addiction

Alcohol addiction in particular has continued to be a problem in modern society. Every year millions of people are diagnosed with alcohol addiction/AUD. Alcohol addiction occurs when a person’s drinking begins to affect his or her everyday life. Typically, those who find themselves drinking excessively on a regular basis may have drinking problems. Signs of alcohol addiction may include:

  • Worsened performance in the home, work, and school life
  • Risky and dangerous behavior (fights, swimming, driving, operating machinery)
  • Coming up with excuses for constant drinking
  • Building tolerance to drinking (needing to drink more for desired effects)

When it comes to binge drinking and drinking habits, a person can end up using OTC medication like NyQuil or other drugs without even realizing it. Mixing these drugs can end up causing problems as mentioned before. In addition to mixing alcohol and NyQuil, a person can end up mixing other drugs that could cause more problems.

When it comes to cough and cold medicines, NyQuil can also be addictive and not just because it contains alcohol. When taken at high doses, NyQuil can trigger the reward system in the brain like other drugs, this can end up causing addiction and dependence. Cough medicine addiction is particularly rampant among young adults and teens in particular. If you or a loved one is struggling with NyQuil and alcohol addiction, it may be time to get help.

Getting Help at Kingsway Recovery

Can you take NyQuil after drinking? As discussed, you should avoid mixing NyQuil and alcohol because of acetaminophen, which already contains alcohol. This can cause increased damage to the liver after some period of time.

At Kingsway Recovery, we offer quality treatment for people of all ages. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or prescription drug addiction, we are here for you. Don’t wait, reach out to us today to get started on a better life, free of addiction.

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