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The Dangers of Mixing ZzzQuil and Alcohol

ZzzQuil is an over-the-counter sleep aid. While it can be helpful when used as the instructions indicate, Zzzquil can interact with other substances, including alcohol. Understanding the potential effects of taking ZzzQuil at the same time as alcohol is important to minimize your risks.

How Does ZzzQuil Work?

ZzzQuil is available in different forms, including liquid, liquicaps, and gummies. The active ingredient in Zzzquil is diphenhydramine, an antihistamine with sedative effects.

Diphenhydramine is frequently used to treat allergy symptoms like itching, sneezing, and runny nose, but it also creates drowsiness in the user, which is why it’s effective in helping with occasional sleeplessness.

There may be slight variations in ZzzQuil’s ingredients depending on the particular formulation, but the primary active ingredient is always diphenhydramine. Inactive ingredients in the formulation include water, glycerin, and sorbitol.

When you take ZzzQuil as directed, it can block the action of histamine in the brain. By affecting histamine, diphenhydramine has a calming effect on the central nervous system, helping the user fall asleep.

Drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness are relatively common side effects of ZzzQuil. Blurry vision and constipation are also common.

Some people experience a paradoxical reaction when they take diphenhydramine, especially at higher doses. If that happens, the effects can be the opposite of what you might anticipate. For example, you could feel agitated or confused.

Understanding Alcohol’s Short-Term Effects

It’s often a risk to combine alcohol with other substances because, even on its own, it has such profound mental and physical effects.

In the short term, alcohol is a depressant that slows your central nervous system activity. That can induce relaxation, drowsiness, and other short-term effects associated with drinking, like reduced inhibition. Other short-term alcohol effects include impaired judgment and coordination.

Drinking can impair your cognitive function, so it may be harder to think or process things. Alcohol can impact your mood and lead to changes in your behavior and emotions.

As a diuretic, alcohol increases your urine output, and it can lead to dehydration along with associated symptoms like dry mouth, thirst, and headache.

Because alcohol affects the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that’s responsible for our sense of coordination and balance, you might notice reduced reaction times, impaired motor skills, and a higher risk of being in accidents or getting injured.

Over the longer term, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to life-threatening effects like liver damage.

What Are the Risks of Mixing ZzzQuil and Alcohol?

When it comes to ZzzQuil and alcohol, many people don’t think about how serious the risks can be since one is an over-the-counter medicine and one is legal as long as you’re 21. Just because something is OTC or legal doesn’t mean it’s inherently safe, though, and that can be especially true when combined.

The risks of the interactions of mixing ZzzQuil and alcohol can include:

  • Increased depression of the central nervous system: Both alcohol and diphenhydramine act as central nervous system (CNS) depressants. They both slow brain activity, and taking them together can intensify the sedative effects. Your risk of experiencing excessive drowsiness, sedation, and impaired coordination and cognitive function is much higher when you mix two CNS depressants rather than taking just one alone.
  • Injury and accident risk: Mixing ZzzQuil and alcohol can impair your reaction time as well as your coordination and judgment. It increases the risk associated with many activities, raising the potential of being involved in an accident or getting injured.
  • Risk of respiratory depression: The CNS controls breathing, and as a result, both alcohol and diphenhydramine can suppress your respiratory function. Taking them together can further depress your breathing, making it shallow or slow. Respiratory depression can be deadly in severe situations.
  • Cardiovascular effects: Alcohol use can affect heart rate and blood pressure, and the same is true for diphenhydramine. Combining the two raises your risk of experiencing heart-related effects like high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and other similar complications.
  • Dehydration: Combining alcohol with ZzzQuil can make the dehydrating effects of alcohol worse.
  • Overdose risk: Even when used independently of each other, large doses of either alcohol or diphenhydramine can be toxic and deadly. Combining the two increases your risk of overdose because of the effects of each compound with one another. Overdose symptoms could include extreme drowsiness, slow or shallow breathing, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
  • Paradoxical reactions: If you take ZzzQuil and alcohol together, it makes paradoxical reactions more likely. The effects can be unpredictable and may include agitation, aggression, or hallucinations.

Mixing ZzzQuil and alcohol can have serious consequences, and by taking them at the same time, you’re significantly raising the risk you’ll experience harmful side effects. Factors such as the amount used play a role as well when you drink alcohol and combine it with sleep aids.

How To Get Help If You’re Struggling

Combining ZzzQuil and alcohol can lead to a range of adverse effects, including excessive sedation, impairments in cognitive function, heart complications, and respiratory depression. Your risk of toxic reactions and overdose is also greater when you combine the popular OTC sleep aid with alcohol.

It’s important to recognize the risks associated with mixing these substances, and if you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, which can include sleep aids or alcohol, it’s crucial to seek professional support. There are resources available and support tailored to your needs.

Mandala Healing Center helps individuals heal in a safe, comfortable environment with access to healthcare professionals and other expert practitioners. We use a range of holistic approaches and medically assisted detox services, as well as offering dual diagnosis treatment and a continuum of care for substance abuse treatment. Contact us to learn more.