Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Hydroxyzine - Mandala Healing Center

Despite alcohol being the most commonly abused substance in the United States, it is widely accepted and used by many Americans. More than 50% of adults consume alcohol on a regular basis.[1] While it is widely known that one should not mix alcohol with certain medications, such as narcotics like opioids or benzodiazepines, many people don’t think twice about mixing alcohol with daily medications for allergies or with over-the-counter pills. However, combining alcohol with other substances can have adverse side effects.

One widely prescribed medication that people often mix with alcohol is hydroxyzine. Even though hydroxyzine is safe and generally not habit-forming when used alone, it can be extremely dangerous, and even addictive, when it is combined with alcohol.

What is Hydroxyzine?

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine prescription medication that is sold under the brand names Atarax and Vistaril. It comes in the form of capsules, tablets, syrups, and an oral suspension–all of which are taken orally.

The medication works by blocking the action of histamine, the substance in the body that causes symptoms of environmental allergies. It may also be used to treat anxiety because it decreases activity in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). In some cases, hydroxyzine is used along with general anesthesia for some surgeries that require sedation.[2]

Doctors usually recommend against mixing hydroxyzine with alcohol and other CNS depressant drugs. This is because hydroxyzine can amplify the effects of other depressants.

How Does Hydroxyzine Affect the Body?

Hydroxyzine is an H1 antagonist, meaning it blocks H1 (histamine) receptors.[3] These receptors regulate multiple life-sustaining functions in the body, and blocking them can produce sedative and anxiolytic effects.

Shortly after taking hydroxyzine, individuals may experience:[4]

  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Fewer allergy symptoms
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Headache

When combined with alcohol, these side effects can become amplified.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?

Alcohol, in small doses, acts as a stimulant that increases energy and talkativeness. However, in more standard or larger doses, alcohol is a CNS depressant that slows down breathing, heart rate, and other life-sustaining functions.

While under the influence of alcohol, people often have altered judgment and impaired thinking. They may have poor coordination, bad decision-making, and increased impulsivity.

Many people who struggle with anxiety try to self-medicate their symptoms by drinking alcohol. Alcohol may temporarily mask anxious feelings, however, alcohol abuse, over time, can lead to an increase in anxiety.

People who take hydroxyzine, whether for allergies or anxiety, should avoid drinking alcohol while taking the medication.[4]

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Hydroxyzine

Drinking alcohol while taking hydroxyzine will increase the side effects of both substances and significantly reduce mental alertness. This can cause drowsiness and mental impairment beyond what is normally caused by alcohol intoxication. Individuals may also feel dizzy, have a hard time concentrating, and experience poor judgment and memory. Other symptoms, such as nausea, dry mouth, and upset stomach can become more severe.[4]

This mixture is dangerous and there can be many consequences of abusing these two substances together. A few dangers associated with mixing alcohol and hydroxyzine include:

Overdose

Too much hydroxyzine and/or alcohol can put an individual at risk for a drug overdose. The most common symptom of this kind of overdose is hypersedation, or extreme drowsiness. Other overdose symptoms may include:[5]

  • Unresponsiveness
  • Convulsions
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Clammy skin
  • Fast or abnormal heart rhythms
  • Slow, labored breathing
  • Coma
  • Death

Accidents and Injury

Since both alcohol and hydroxyzine are CNS depressants, they can alter a person’s reactions, perception, and decision-making. People who are under the influence may make the life-changing decision to get behind the wheel and drive, resulting in a DUI/DWI, car accident, or injury. They could also struggle with poor coordination making them more prone to physical accidents and injury.

Dependence and Addiction

Taking hydroxyzine and alcohol together to deliberately get more intoxicated not only has immediate dangers, but also long-term dangers that could come with a variety of consequences. People who engage in polysubstance abuse may be at an increased risk for physical dependence and addiction.

Once addiction develops, it can be difficult for someone to stop using hydroxyzine and/or alcohol. They may also be prone to consuming these substances in larger amounts, thereby increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, and overdose.

Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Today

The best way to overcome an addiction to alcohol is to go to a local drug and alcohol treatment facility. Treatment usually begins with detox where patients are medically supervised as they go through withdrawal. Once the body is stabilized and acute withdrawal has come to an end, patients can move onto rehab where they engage in various therapies and educational workshops to learn how to stay sober.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, know that help is readily available. Our team here at Mandala Healing Center wants nothing more than to help you get healthy and stay healthy. Don’t wait any longer. Call now to begin your recovery journey.

References:

  1. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
  2. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/011459s048%2C011795s025lbl.pdf
  3. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Hydroxyzine
  4. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Hydroxyzine-(Vistaril-Atarax)
  5. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-dangers-of-alcohol-overdose