October 31, 2023

The Dangers of Mixing Hydroxyzine and Alcohol

A woman with her hands on her head, representing the dangers of mixing hydroxyzine and alcohol

Can you drink on hydroxyzine? While the harmful impact of alcohol on the body is commonly understood, the potential risks of combining alcohol with hydroxyzine are not as well documented.

Hydroxyzine, marketed as Vistaril or Atarax, is an antihistamine indicated for the short-term treatment of anxiety and dementia. Hydroxyzine was once the primary medication employed in medical detoxification to mitigate mood-related withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and restlessness.

The mechanism of hydroxyzine involves the reduction of brain activity, leading to its beneficial impact on anxiety-related conditions. Additionally, the medication acts by obstructing the production of histamines associated with allergic responses.

This guide highlights the following risks associated with combining hydroxyzine and alcohol:

  • Can you mix hydroxyzine and alcohol?
  • Can mixing hydroxyzine and alcohol kill you?
  • Can you drink alcohol on hydroxyzine on special occasions?
  • What are the most dangerous hydroxyzine alcohol side effects?

Hydroxyzine and Alcohol Side Effects

Hydroxyzine is a prescription antihistamine that functions by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body responsible for allergic symptoms. The medication also has sedating effects and is commonly used by physicians to manage anxiety and allergies. Meanwhile, alcohol remains one of the most commonly abused addictive substances in the United States.

Until 1969, hydroxyzine was utilized as the primary treatment for alcohol withdrawal syndrome, when a significant study highlighted the superior efficacy of Librium (chlordiazepoxide) in managing AWS. Researchers determined that Librium was much more successful in mitigating withdrawal symptoms than hydroxyzine, prompting healthcare providers to start utilizing Librium as the first-line pharmacological treatment for alcohol withdrawal.

When taking hydroxyzine, the interaction with alcohol can potentially lead to serious side effects, such as:

  • Stupor
  • Convulsions
  • Excessive nausea and vomiting
  • Heart problems causing fast, abnormal heartbeats

Additionally, common side effects of hydroxyzine itself include drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation (especially in older adults), confusion (especially in older adults), dizziness, and headache.

Effects of Alcohol Alone

Alcohol can have various effects on the body, especially when consumed in excessive amounts. Some of the common effects of alcohol include:

  • Impaired judgment and coordination: Alcohol consumption can impair decision-making abilities and motor coordination, leading to accidents and injuries.
  • Liver damage: Long-term and excessive consumption of alcohol can trigger the development of liver diseases like cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and fatty liver.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Heavy drinking can contribute to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, cardiomyopathy, and an increased risk of stroke.
  • Digestive problems: Alcohol can irritate the digestive system, leading to issues like gastritis, ulcers, and pancreatitis.
  • Neurological effects: Alcohol can affect brain function, leading to impaired cognitive abilities, memory loss, and in severe cases, alcohol-related dementia.

Comply with moderate drinking guidelines to reduce the risk of these adverse effects on health.

A woman with her hands on her head, indicating nausea, a common side effects of mixing hydroxyzine and alcohol

Effects of Hydroxyzine Alone

Taking hydroxyzine may trigger some side effects. If any of the following symptoms are severe or persist, speak to your doctor for medical advice:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation, especially in older adults
  • Confusion, especially in older adults
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Some side effects of hydroxyzine can be severe. If you experience any of the following side effects or symptoms, call your doctor or healthcare provider immediately:

  • Unintentional trembling or shaking movements
  • Seizures

If someone has overdosed on hydroxyzine and exhibits symptoms like unconsciousness or breathing difficulties, immediately call 911.

Symptoms of a hydroxyzine overdose may include:

  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Hyper-sedation
  • Convulsions
  • Stupor (near-unconsciousness)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mental or mood changes – restlessness and irritability

Hydroxyzine and Alcohol Interaction

Hydroxyzine interactions with alcohol may intensify the medication’s nervous system side effects, making it challenging to determine the severity of the symptoms. Hydroxyzine mixed with alcohol can provoke symptoms that require immediate medical attention – dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, dry eyes, dry mouth, headache, nausea, seizures, unintentional tremors, fever, rash, or impaired thinking and judgment.

To mitigate these risks, avoid alcohol consumption while taking hydroxyzine and adhere to the recommended dosage.

Hydroxyzine should be avoided if you have allergies to levocetirizine (Xyzal) or cetirizine (Zyrtec), are pregnant, or have irregular heartbeats or long QT syndrome. Additionally, inform your healthcare provider if you are using other medications that induce drowsiness, including opioids, anxiety and sleep medications, muscle relaxers, and antihistamines.

Dangers of Mixing Hydroxyzine and Alcohol

Combining hydroxyzine with alcohol can pose significant risks and may lead to adverse effects on the CNS (central nervous system). Both substances are known to have sedative properties, and their combination can intensify these effects, leading to excessive drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired motor function. This heightened sedation can be dangerous, especially when performing tasks that require focus and coordination, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.

Beyond this, the simultaneous use of hydroxyzine and alcohol can exacerbate the depressive effects on the central nervous system, leading to slowed breathing and heart rate. This interaction can result in severe respiratory depression and cardiovascular complications, especially in individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions. Also, the combined depressant effects can increase the risk of falls, accidents, and injuries, particularly among the elderly population.

Mixing hydroxyzine and alcohol may also potentiate other side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal disturbances. It may lead to an increased risk of memory impairment, confusion, and cognitive dysfunction, particularly in older adults. Additionally, combining alcohol and hydroxyzine may heighten the risk of developing liver toxicity and liver damage, especially in those with pre-existing liver conditions or a history of alcohol abuse.

Consult a healthcare professional before combining hydroxyzine with alcohol, as they can provide essential guidance and ensure the safe and effective use of these substances. Strict adherence to prescribed dosages and avoidance of alcohol consumption while taking the medication can significantly reduce the risk of potential complications and promote overall health and well-being.

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Get Treatment for Drug & Alcohol Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

When drug and alcohol addictions co-occur, integrated treatment provides the most favorable outcomes. We can help you with this at Gratitude Lodge in Long Beach and Newport Beach, CA.

Begin your alcohol addiction treatment with our supervised medical detoxification program. Over the course of a week or so, you can withdraw from drugs and alcohol with the benefit of medications and continuous care to streamline the process.

Following detox, you can move to ongoing inpatient treatment at one of our pet-friendly facilities. Access a personalized array of these treatments:

Engage with treatment for alcoholism and prescription drug abuse by calling 800-994-2184 today.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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