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Alcohol and Hydroxyzine

You have been dealing with anxiety since you were a teen, but your parents never believed you needed any help. They would say things like “get over it,” or “what you say you are feeling isn’t real.” Your sister was at the top of the class, a perfect student, and always managed to be in the spotlight. It was obvious she was the favorite, as she was set to get a full ride to numerous Ivy League schools, following in your parents’ footsteps.


As you got older, you turned to alcohol to help with the relentless anxiety you were feeling. At first, it was helping, but you were finding you needed more and more alcohol to feel relief. It was beginning to feel like the time you were not drinking was becoming shorter and shorter. You decided it was finally time to talk to a doctor about this and scheduled an appointment. She was very understanding of your situation and informed you about medications like hydroxyzine that can help with anxiety – but you would have to stop drinking. With the length of time you have been leaning on alcohol, would you be able to stop at this point?

In 2019, over 30% of Florida residents between the ages of 18 and 25 reported binge drinking within the past month. The program at Clean Recovery Centers addresses both mental health and alcohol use disorder at the same time. We can diagnose and treat anxiety and other mental health conditions at any phase of treatment. Today, we are discussing how alcohol and hydroxyzine interact, and what they can do to the body.

Hydroxyzine – What Is It?

Hydroxyzine is a common antihistamine used to treat allergic conditions, primarily affecting the skin. It can also be used to treat anxiety or as a sedative before a surgical procedure. It comes in a syrup, capsule, or tablet form to be taken by mouth. Depending on the dose and the reason for taking it, hydroxyzine can be taken up to three or four times per day.

Hydroxyzine’s Effects on the Brain and Body

Hydroxyzine can cause side effects on both the brain and body. Constipation, nausea, headaches, dry mouth, and fast heartbeat are common side effects. Not every person will react to hydroxyzine the same way, and any adverse side effects such as itching, increased anxiety, and hallucinations should be consulted with a doctor.

Hydroxyzine has been seen to increase serotonin levels in the brain, alleviating anxiety symptoms. However, it also can suppress the central nervous system, leading to dizziness and drowsiness. This is why hydroxyzine is commonly used in those with an anxiety disorder that causes insomnia.

How Do Hydroxyzine and Alcohol Interact?

Hydroxyzine and alcohol are both depressants, meaning they can cause similar side effects at the same time. Because of this, the interaction between hydroxyzine and alcohol is negative and can result in serious situations, injuries, and even be fatal. Taking other medications with both alcohol and hydroxyzine increases these risks exponentially.

Side Effects of Hydroxyzine and Alcohol

There are many different side effects that can happen when mixing hydroxyzine and alcohol. Not everyone is the same and side effect experiences may be different, which is why there are common side effects and rare but serious effects as well.

Commonly Experienced Side Effects

Commonly experienced side effects of alcohol and hydroxyzine are better understood by knowing the side effects of both individually. Common side effects of drinking alcohol include:

  • Relaxation
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Confusion
  • Impaired speech

Hydroxyzine has a slew of side effects as well, including:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Hydroxyzine side effects tend to go away and are mild. However, when mixed with alcohol, certain side effects, such as drowsiness and dizziness, increase. Poor coordination is often a result of this increase, and the person may lose consciousness.

Rare or Serious Side Effects

In rare cases, alcohol and hydroxyzine together can cause a state of oversedation. This results in loss of consciousness and breathing can stop. This is a life-threatening situation and requires medical attention. Other serious side effects include seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and excessive, persistent vomiting. Hallucinations and distorted thinking can also occur.

Is Mixing Hydroxyzine and Alcohol Dangerous?

While the serious side effects of alcohol and hydroxyzine mixed are rare, they can happen to anyone at any time. This is why it is firmly recommended to stay away from alcohol while taking hydroxyzine. It does not matter if the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the drink is as low as 5%, an interaction can still occur.

Accidents and Injury

As we noted above, alcohol causes poor coordination and dizziness. When paired with hydroxyzine, the risk of falls and injuries increases. Drowsiness can cause the person to lose where they are, and they may wander into areas that are not well-known. This increases the risk of serious accidents such as walking into a busy street, falling down stairs, or running into objects. Injuries can be serious and life-threatening, especially if left untreated.

Dependence Risks

dangers-of-combining-alcohol-with-hydroxyzineHydroxyzine is not a controlled substance and has been shown to be a low risk for dependence. However, a person can build a tolerance to hydroxyzine and require higher doses to have the same effects. It is not often used long-term and medical professionals may choose to have the person switch to a different medication later on.

Alcohol does carry the risk of developing dependence. Similar to hydroxyzine, those who drink alcohol frequently develop a tolerance. This means they will need more alcohol to feel the same effects as when they first began drinking. However, as tolerance increases and the person drinks more, dependence will develop. Alcohol dependence is characterized by experiencing withdrawal symptoms between drinking sessions, frequent thoughts and stresses about when the next drink will be, and alcohol interfering with relationships and job performance. Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and even potentially dangerous, especially when stopping drinking right away. It is always best to seek medical help for alcohol dependence when stopping drinking.

Overdose Potential

Both hydroxyzine and alcohol overdoses entail loss of consciousness and trouble breathing. However, when the two are mixed, an overdose can occur at a much faster rate. Vomiting, slow breathing, and irregular heart rate can all cause breathing to stop, resulting in life-threatening consequences. When oxygen is not reaching vital organs, damage occurs that can cause permanent problems or be fatal. An overdose should always result in medical intervention. If you suspect an alcohol and/or hydroxyzine overdose, get the person medical help as soon as possible.

Seeking Help for Alcohol Addiction in Hillsborough County, FL

Medication interactions can be scary and potentially deadly, especially when mixed with other substances. If you find yourself unable to stop drinking even though your medication says to refrain, help is available to you. Finding a quality alcohol detox program is the first step to beginning your recovery. While alcohol may seem to be the fix for mental health concerns now, it will eventually do more harm than good. Through therapy, medications, and developing healthy coping skills, you will be able to leave alcohol behind and put your mental health and well-being forward. All it takes is walking through the door to begin the journey.

If you or someone you love is managing an alcohol use disorder, look no further than Clean Recovery Centers. Our unique, three-phase approach is unlike any other and addresses all aspects of addiction: spiritual, mental, physical, and social. With locations throughout the Suncoast, we provide ease of access to quality care. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our treatment program.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

FAQs About Hydroxyzine and Alcohol

Can I drink any alcohol while taking hydroxyzine?

Because of the interactions between alcohol and hydroxyzine, it is best to stay away from alcohol completely while taking the medication. It does not matter if the alcohol is only 5% ABV or 45% ABV, all should be avoided.

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