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Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking DayQuil?

Over-the-counter cold and flu medications can be a quick and easy way to lessen the symptoms of a cold. They are a staple in many American households, so many people don’t think twice about them and their potential risks. As a result, many people begin to mix their over-the-counter medications with alcohol, failing to realize that what they are doing is potentially harmful. 

While some over-the-counter medications are safe to take with alcohol, others are not. One medication you should never mix with alcohol is DayQuil. DayQuil is a cold and flu medication that can provide temporary relief from symptoms like coughs, minor aches and pains, or congestion. 

Even though DayQuil seems like a harmless substance, taking it with alcohol can have devastating effects. 

What is DayQuil?

DayQuil is a commonly used over-the-counter medication intended to relieve the symptoms of common colds and the flu. It can provide relief from symptoms like sneezing, sore throat, headache, cough, and mild aches and pains. Many people rely on medications like DayQuil to get through the worst days of their illnesses.

DayQuil can cause the following side effects:

  • Dizziness or weakness 
  • Mild headaches 
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea or upset stomach 
  • Nervousness or restlessness 
  • Irritability or anxiety 
  • Insomnia 

While DayQuil comes in several formulas, most versions of this medicine contain acetaminophen, phenylephrine, and dextromethorphan. None of those substances are safe to take with alcohol. Even if you have an alcohol use disorder and have developed a tolerance to alcohol, you should avoid combining it with DayQuil. 

The Risks of Combining Alcohol and DayQuil

DayQuil contains 3 different ingredients that can potentially interact negatively with alcohol, so you should avoid combining these substances. If you or a loved one combine alcohol and DayQuil, being aware of the possible effects you could experience is important.

The easiest way to understand why DayQuil should not be mixed with alcohol is to look at the negative interactions between specific ingredients. 


First, acetaminophen, a pain reliever, is one of the main ingredients in DayQuil. Mixing acetaminophen with alcohol can lead to:[1]

  • Stomach upset
  • Bleeding and ulcers
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Liver damage 


Another main ingredient found in DayQuil is phenylephrine, a decongestant and vasoconstrictor. Mixing phenylephrine and alcohol can lead to:[1]

  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Impaired coordination 
  • Increased sedation
  • Decreased alertness
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure and heart problems 


Lastly, DayQuil contains dextromethorphan, a cough medicine. This substance should never be mixed with alcohol because it can cause:[1]

  • Dizziness 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Impaired coordination 
  • Respiratory depression
  • Increased risk of liver damage or failure 

Can You Get Addicted to DayQuil?

DayQuil contains the ingredient dextromethorphan, which is known to be abused by a wide range of people. Often referred to as “DXM”, dextromethorphan can cause a wide range of effects when abused in large amounts. If you are mixing DayQuil with alcohol, your risk of becoming addicted increases substantially. 

According to the DEA, abusing dextromethorphan can result in:[2]

  • Confusion
  • Inappropriate laughter 
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia 
  • Euphoria 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Changes in sensory perception 

Although rare, it is possible to become addicted to DayQuil if you are using it in excess or in combination with alcohol. 

How Long After Taking DayQuil Can You Drink Alcohol?

The exact length of time it takes your body to rid itself of DayQuil will depend on a variety of factors. As a result, you should always consult with your doctor to determine when it is safe to resume alcohol consumption. 

However, most people can begin drinking alcohol 4 to 6 hours after they last took DayQuil. This means you should avoid drinking alcohol or using other substances that interact with DayQuil for a minimum of four hours.

Is Combining Alcohol and DayQuil a Sign of a Bigger Problem?

If you are regularly combining alcohol and DayQuil, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. For example, if you cannot refrain from drinking alcohol to safely consume DayQuil, you are most likely struggling with an alcohol use disorder. 

If you relate to the following signs of alcoholism, it’s time to seek professional help:

  • Being unable to cut back or stop your consumption of alcohol
  • Continuing to drink alcohol despite facing problems at home, school, or work
  • Continuing to drink alcohol despite experiencing mental or physical health issues as a direct result of your alcohol use 
  • Not being able to control the amount of alcohol you use in one sitting
  • Combining alcohol with other substances to increase your intoxication
  • Needing more alcohol than before to experience a desired effect (building a tolerance)
  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to abuse alcohol 
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms when you cannot use alcohol 

Mixing alcohol and DayQuil to experience a specific high can also be a sign that you are dealing with a substance use disorder. 

Finding Help for Alcohol and DayQuil Abuse 

If you or a loved one mix alcohol and DayQuil to experience a high, it’s time to consider drug and alcohol rehab. At Mandala Healing Center, we can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome addiction. 

To learn more about our drug and alcohol rehab programs, contact us today. 


  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): DayQuil Label, Retrieved September 2023 From
  2. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Drug Fact Sheet: DXM, Retrieved September 2023 From