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Sudafed and Alcohol Interaction: Can You Drink Alcohol with Sudafed?


Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 11/05/2022

Sudafed is a brand name for the generic drug pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is available with and without a prescription and there are various types. The common types are extended release and instant release, which are released over 12 or 24 hours.

Sudafed is a decongestant and is used to treat symptoms of the common cold, sinus infections, and even allergies. It can also be used to treat breathing problems like bronchitis and can reduce fevers (for some conditions).

What are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Sudafed?

Alcohol and Sudafed do not have a specific interaction that occurs in the body. Therefore, it’s safe to mix alcohol and Sudafed in small doses.

That said, alcohol and Sudafed will have worse side effects when taken together. Sudafed also becomes less effective because moderate amounts of alcohol will cause nasal congestion and weaken the immune system. Consuming alcohol will also worsen the side effects of Sudafed and make people feel less intoxicated.

Many studies from resources like SAMHSA have also found that Sudafed and alcohol cause drowsiness when taken together. Additionally, the CDC states that serious side effects are likely if someone is allergic to sudafed or alcohol.

Does Sudafed Affect the Taste of Alcohol?

Sudafed does not affect the taste of alcohol. Still, consuming alcohol and Sudafed at the same time can leave an aftertaste in your mouth. Even with the aftertaste, it’s only brief. Alcohol will have its normal taste once the taste of Sudafed is out of the mouth and off of the taste buds.

Does Sudafed Affect the Effect of Alcohol?

Sudafed does not affect the effects of alcohol. While it does not typically affect the effect of alcohol, some side effects of alcohol and Sudafed can become worse when the substances are combined. Furthermore, alcohol will feel less intoxicating. Sudafed has central nervous system (CNS) stimulant properties and shares a similar structure with types of amphetamines like Adderall.

For these reasons, alcohol can feel less intoxicating. This makes alcohol consumption dangerous because a high blood alcohol is concentration harder to notice. Data from the CDC highlights that there is a higher risk of overdose when mixing Sudafed and alcohol.

Does Alcohol Affect the Sudafed’s Stimulant Effect?

Alcohol is a CNS depressant. Because depressants slow down the central nervous system, alcohol reduces the stimulant effects that Sudafed has. While this is minor, it’s noticeable for people who use Sudafed to treat congestion, allergies, or breathing problems. In these cases, Sudafed should not be mixed with alcohol.

Alcohol may impact Sudafed’s stimulant effects but there are some stipulations here. For example, the CDC recommended against using Sudafed for its stimulant effects. Many researchers have found that Sudafed abuse is more likely in cases where individuals abuse the substance with or without alcohol.

Can Mixture of Alcohol and Sudafed Lead to Death?

Yes, a mixture of alcohol and Sudafed will lead to death. Mixing Sudafed and alcohol is dangerous because of Sudafed’s stimulating properties. For example, someone will have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) without noticing it. Alcohol-related death is not uncommon when mixing Sudafed and alcohol.

Having high BAC leads to binge drinking and alcohol poisoning, which are fatal. Taking high doses of Sudafed and mixing it with alcohol will also lead to irregular heartbeat and other heart conditions. While safe in moderation, both substances in high doses are dangerous alone and when combined.

Who Should Not Take Alcohol and Sudafed?

It’s never a good idea to mix medications with alcohol. For this reason, nobody should mix alcohol and Sudafed unless it’s only a few standard drinks. However, some people will have more severe reactions when mixing Sudafed with alcohol.

People who should never mix alcohol and Sudafed include people with pre-existing heart conditions, older people (over 65), and people with a history of abusing stimulants and alcohol. It’s also more dangerous for women to drink alcohol with Sudafed because BAC rises faster in women.

Can I Take Sudafed with Alcohol While Pregnant?

No, you can’t take Sudafed with alcohol while pregnant. Ultimately, you should never consume alcohol during pregnancy. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy will impact the mother and child, leading to negative health effects. For example, consuming large quantities of alcohol during pregnancy will lead to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a condition that leads to deformities at birth.

If Sudafed is taken with alcohol during pregnancy the effects may be worse. However, Sudafed can be taken during pregnancy in some cases. Always consult with your doctor before taking medications during pregnancy.

Are all Types of Alcohol Harmful with Sudafed?

All types of alcohol are harmful with Sudafed. Sudafed is a stimulant, so it’s dangerous to mix it with a depressant (alcohol). Still, some types of alcohol are more harmful than others. A few beers or glasses of wine won’t have severe effects but drinking several shots of liquor causes problems.

Sudafed is also a stimulant that reduces the intoxicating effects of alcohol, which makes alcohol feel less intoxicating. While alcohol feels less intoxicating when taking Sudafed, BAC still rises and increases the risk of alcohol poisoning. Liquor is the most dangerous type of alcohol to mix with Sudafed because it has the highest alcohol percentage per volume.

How Much Sudafed Can be Dangerous to Take with Alcohol?

Studies show that Sudafed in low doses is typically safe to combine with a small amount of alcohol. On the other hand, larger doses of Sudafed are dangerous to combine with alcohol because of how it interacts with the heart and immune system. Therefore, doses of more than 240 milligrams are dangerous to take with alcohol.

In fact, adults who take more than 240 milligrams of Sudafed will encounter issues without alcohol. The amount of Sudafed that’s dangerous to take with alcohol also depends on the type of Sudafed. Some types of Sudafed can last for up to 24 hours, which makes them more dangerous to take with alcohol.

1. Sudafed 12-Hour and Alcohol Consumption

Sudafed comes in a 12-hour release version. When using 12-hour Sudafed, it remains in the body for about 12 hours. Then, over the next 5 to 6 hours it’s fully cleared from the body. While some traces of Sudafed can remain in the urine for longer periods, it’s safe to consume alcohol about 20 hours after taking a 12-hour Sudafed. If alcohol and 12-hour Sudafed are mixed, side effects will last for 12 to 14 hours.

2. Sudafed 24 Hour and Alcohol Consumption

Similar to 12-hour Sudafed, 24-hour Sudafed releases in the body throughout the day. 24-hour Sudafed is typically a higher dose than 12-hour Sudafed and other quick-release versions, so it’s more dangerous to mix with alcohol. Using this type of Sudafed with alcohol will lead to long-lasting side effects that make hangovers dangerous. After the 24-hour period, it’s safe to consume alcohol without any side effects.

Does Alcohol Affect How Well Sudafed Will Work?

Alcohol does not have a direct interaction with Sudafed, so it doesn’t always affect how well the medication works. That said, Sudafed aids the immune system in removing congestion from the sinuses. Sudafed will also be used to reduce fevers and help with some breathing conditions like bronchitis.

Alcohol, on the other hand, weakens the immune system in large quantities. Therefore, it makes Sudafed’s job more difficult. Still, alcohol will only impact Sudafed when it’s used in large amounts. A few standards drinks don’t have a big interaction with the immune system or Sudafed

How Long After Taking Sudafed Can You Drink Alcohol?

According to Sudafed manufacturers, Sudafed has a half-life of 5 to 6 hours. So, once it’s been about 5 or 6 hours after your last dose of Sudafed, it’s safe to consume alcohol. That said, there are stronger types of Sudafed (like 12-hour and 24-hour Sudafed), which require more time to clear from the body.

In these cases, we recommend waiting for a few hours after the 12-hour or 24-hour mark. While you can have a few standard drinks with Sudafed, you should avoid moderate drinking until it clears your system.

What Are Other Drugs That Are Dangerous To Use with Alcohol?

Many drugs are dangerous to use with alcohol. Before mixing alcohol with other drugs, you should always consult with your doctor. Due to alcohol’s intoxicating properties, mixing alcohol and other drugs can leads to serious health problems.

Below are some of the most dangerous drugs to use with alcohol.

These are only a few of the drugs that are dangerous to use with alcohol. Depending on how much alcohol is consumed, almost every drug is dangerous with alcohol.