Nyquil and Alcohol

Mixing Nyquil and Alcohol 

Vicks NyQuil is an over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medication. It relieves common symptoms of these illnesses, including nasal congestion, cough, and aches and pains. It also helps you fall asleep. Nyquil comes in both pill and cough syrup form. 

NyQuil users should avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol enhances the effects of NyQuil’s active ingredients. This means when you take NyQuil and drink alcohol simultaneously, the potency of the medication increases. This mix can also trigger other dangerous side effects, such as slowed heart rate and breathing. 

Ingredients in NyQuil

NyQuil has several active ingredients. They include:


Acetaminophen is added to NyQuil to reduce aches, pains, and fevers. You can buy the drug on its own (Tylenol) or buy an OTC cold medicine that contains Acetaminophen.

Mixing acetaminophen and alcohol is dangerous. The liver metabolizes alcohol and acetaminophen. Combining the two puts a lot of stress on the liver. 

In most cases, people do not experience any serious health complications when they accidentally mix acetaminophen and alcohol. However, frequently drinking alcohol heavily while taking acetaminophen causes severe liver damage. 

Dextromethorphan (DXM)

DXM is another active ingredient in NyQuil. It works as a cough suppressant. When used as directed, DXM is effective and safe and poses very few health risks. However, when taken in higher doses, DXM triggers side effects similar to consuming too much alcohol. 

Some people who take high doses of DMX experience hallucinations. Mixing alcohol and DXM significantly increases the drug’s side effects.

Doxylamine Succinate

Doxylamine succinate is an antihistamine. It is an ingredient in NyQuil that eases nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose. This ingredient also causes drowsiness.

Mixing doxylamine succinate with alcohol triggers dangerous levels of sedation. This is because both substances act as depressants and produce sedative effects.

NyQuil Liquid contains 10 percent alcohol, which helps dissolve the other ingredients in the medication. However, NyQuil LiquiCaps and Alcohol-Free Nyquil Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid do not contain alcohol. 

Some people assume mixing NyQuil and alcohol is dangerous due to the overconsumption of alcohol. Although partly true, the real danger is from combining alcohol with the drug’s active ingredients. Users consume about the same amount of alcohol from a regular dose of NyQuil as they would from a sip of white wine.


Side Effects of Mixing Nyquil and Alcohol 

Mixing NyQuil with alcohol produces a variety of side effects. Some people who mix the two substances just fall asleep faster and experience deeper sleep. However, if you consume a large amount of alcohol and take NyQuil, the effects can be extremely dangerous. 

Short-term side effects of mixing NyQuil and alcohol include:

  • Increased sedation and drowsiness
  • Coordination issues
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach

Risks & Dangers of Nyquil and Alcohol Interaction

A single occurrence of mixing NyQuil and alcohol is unlikely to cause severe side effects. Frequently mixing them can cause liver damage and other serious medical issues. This is because the mixture of alcohol and acetaminophen puts stress on the liver.

You should call 911 or seek emergency medical attention immediately if you have mixed NyQuil and alcohol and notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Intense drowsiness
  • Digestive distress, including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Other Nyquil Interactions: Medications That Contain Acetaminophen 

In addition to avoiding alcohol when taking NyQuil, it’s also crucial to avoid other medications that contain acetaminophen. Anything that causes you to exceed the daily recommended dose of acetaminophen is dangerous.

Many OTC medications contain acetaminophen. So, if you are taking NyQuil, it’s essential to carefully read the ingredient list of any other drug you are taking at the same time. 

Other commonly used OTC medications that might elevate the level of acetaminophen in your system include:

  • Dimetapp
  • Excedrin
  • Midol
  • Robitussin
  • Sudafed
  • Theraflu

Prescription medications that contain acetaminophen are also a concern. These include Percocet and Vicodin.

It’s important to evaluate other pain reliever medications if you are also taking NyQuil. Ideally, anyone taking a short-term medication to reduce a fever or alleviate flu symptoms should stay alcohol-free. 

If you are unsure if a medication you use contains acetaminophen, check the ingredients list, contact your doctor, or talk to a pharmacist.


“NyQuil: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings.” Drugs.Com, www.drugs.com/cdi/nyquil.html.

Updated on: July 30, 2020
Alcohol Rehab Help Writing Staff
Medically Reviewed: July 29, 2020
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Annamarie Coy,
All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice. For more information read out about us.
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