Medicines alcohol I just stared at the pharmacist

After the first time out of hospital with a serious lover and stomach condition, I knew in order not to harm my liver any more alcohol was a no go area. The drink was not and had not been an issue but my body had reacted badly.

So drinking any alcohol was out of the question.

However, this story was inspired by one of the comments on the website about medicines and alcohol and how it can be difficult to find ones without.

I had forgotten this experience till then but in the pharmacy waiting for my prescription the person in front ironically wanted some cough medicine but had liver issues.

The pharmacist quoted the volume of alcohol while saying it was not appropriate for this customer and my jaw dropped just listening to it. It had never ever occurred to be that this might be an issue for me. So like with the rest of I began to really look at what was in food and now medicines!


Medicines Alcohol since the beginning of time

So if you watch any time traveler type series on Netflix or other streaming service like Outlander where she is a medical expert and travels back in time people ( I’m serious! ) are astonished that alcohol is a key co

mponent of her wizard medical skills. So not only are they drinking this stuff they are disinfecting with it too. It’s probably true as it has been used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and antidote for years.

So there she is in “Outlander” the lovely Claire applying to the skin alcohol as disinfectant before sticking a needle in and before she makes surgery happen!


This may be a programme based on fiction but in reality it has been used since the concept was invented. In reality, we could go as far back as the Romans as history digs have found beer jugs near where I was born in a place called Chester in the UK or Deva as the Romans called it.

There is also a fair bit of documentation of the gods of Egypt using it for medicinal purposes as well as science and it’s amazing what you find out on an archaeologist’s dig during your holidays. Do a search for the health benefits of vodka and you would think it could change your life for good!

Anyway I don’t worry about that stuff anymore but it is amazing what stories people come up with for the benefits of alcohol and I am sure I have believed some of them in the past! If they are true by the way I apologize.

Is there alcohol in cough syrup?

Yes in some and what’s more it can be up to 25 per cent in volume making it a bit of a no-no for drivers let alone for people allergic to or with liver issues. So be aware of some flu or cold preparations that are sold especially from behind the counters.

Now in my experience there is one question pharmacists ask and one they don’t often. This is not a definitive list but medicines alcohol list include things’ like Benadryl, Cheracol Plus, Dimetane, Donnatal, Geritol, Novahistine, Robitussin, Sominex, Triaminic, Tylenol and Vicks.

The key question is :

  • Are you taking any medication at the moment? Good question
  • I have never been asked : Is there any reason you cannot take alcohol in your medicine?

Now to be fair I have always raised it as a question off my own back but please make sure you do or talk to your medical practitioner for advice.

This is not having a go at pharmacists by the way who are brilliant and very knowledgeable but you do need to ask the questions. It’s a bit like going to see your doctor if you give the wrong symptoms you might get treated for something you don’t have!

Some alcohol and it’s true of food is a preservative measure so we are hardly talking any trace but if you are concerned as always check the label.


Why it matters – alcohol medicine

For many people this is not an issue as someone emailed me to say and of course as with drinking alcohol, alcohol in medicine matters in different ways and in different things’ to different kinds of people

  • You can’t drink or use alcohol for health issue
  • You choose not to for various reasons including lifestyle and religious beliefs.
  • You don’t consume or use alcohol because you don’t want to. It’s your call.

Sadly people get curious if they could get drunk by drinking cough mixture and or mouthwash. It’s dangerous, and like anything taken in high volume quickly, it can cause your death. The harsh reality is of course some people do take these products to get drunk, if that is you please get help your worth it honestly.

If you are also recovering from a drinking problem it can also spike your desire to drink according to research. There are products can help even if you read up about it.

Ask your pharmacist

In my experience pharmacists are really helpful and knowledgeable so please do ask them it is what they are there for. In terms of special medical cases they may not know the answer just as I have a consultant who specializes in liver and stomach they will be generalist in nature but that is understandable.

Secondly if you have a chance to check the label the alcohol content should be clearly marked or look at it online, some medical directories are very useful. So for example there is a website educational called that lists side effects and content. I have just searched for cold remedies for alcohol for example. It should give you a good steer. sources[]=

Most pharmacists have done at least 4 years of study so their wealth of information is immense and well worth tapping into. I have overall found them very helpful and non judgmental as well.


We are not talking about mixing drinks with alcohol

Just to be clear that there are many drugs you should never take with alcohol but we are not talking about that here. is a good place to read about it. We are talking here about choice or medical conditions where it would be advisable not to take alcohol with your medicine. So key points :

Please comment and join the conversation below after all it’s how this article came about!



12 thoughts on “Medicines alcohol – Really?”

  1. Such a great article about medicine and the hidden alcohol that you find in them. I remember watching the film Hitch where he was drinking large amounts of Benydrl for his fish allergy and he got very drunk. This article reminded me of that so I can completely understand all this information which you have nicely brought to my attention. Alcohol is everywhere as they even put into cosmetic products so it would be good for you to do a review on that if it is of use to you?

    Great insight for me

    • Thanks Imelda, that is really interesting, it funny how things jog our memory. I’ll have to watch that film! A review would be fantastic, thanks very much…Phil

  2. Hello there,thanks for sharing this awesome article I know it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help toe I have been into medication for a long time although I am not a pharmacist but I had to learn as an auxiliary nurse and I must say you really know what you are doing please keep up the good work.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback, its really important and good to hear about your experiences. It really helps with the discussion, all the best, Phil

  3. I absolutely love that show outlander. Yes, our medical industry have changed over time but the core basics are still true. Alcohol is still used today. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Thanks for commenting Catherine, much appreciated. I do worry she is trying to kill Jamie in the plot ( Outlander ) but I think that is my over imagination working!

  4. When it comes to made medicines, there is all sorts of chemicals.  Bottom line is that many of them just treat the symptoms.   The mind is capable of doing all the healing.  So if you have a high belief that whatever that you put into your body will help you will.  

    I have found that plant based content will aid the body as these are natural vs chemical.   So as far as booze in drugs, no good. 

  5. It is shocking when one starts exploring what is in food and drinks, to see the hidden ingredients. But to have alcohol in medicines is something that I had never thought about and would be unacceptable to me. I certainly went running to my medicine cabinet to make sure that the cough medicine that I normally use doesn’t contain any alcohol, something that I had not thought of before. 

    Until quite recently I did not realise that most mouth washes contain alcohol, which is why one should never swallow it. There should be a big label on medicines if they do contain alcohol to warn people about it. 

    • Thanks for the feedback, it is very interesting what you find out via labels and sometimes wider research. I really appreciate your comment so thanks for taking some time out . Phil

  6. Phill, you’ve written another good article here. But I will only offer you my personal opinion. See my thought on this, we have to bear in mind that Capitalism has advantages and disadvantages right? I believe that you will understand why I say that. If not for the FDA  services. Our food and drug industries will not think of anything more than how to maximize their profits and 

    I say this, to point out that most of the things we worry about are being assigned to certain agencies to worry about them for the safety of the public. If they do their job well and keep to their oath of office, the pharmaceutical industries must comply with 99.9% of those guidelines for the health and safety of the consumers. How many people do you think read the labels as to dictate the alcohol content or ingredients in Cough Syrup or Tooth Paste? The better alternative is for us to start encouraging natural medicine and organic foods.


    • Hey Favorme, thanks so much for this and your personal opinion is important and hopefully what shapes the blog and community on the site I am creating. I think you make really good points here and I suppose my take is taking personal responsibility is key. However the point about organic and great food choices will become even more relevent I expect. You start a good debate about the drug industry and that probably needs more airspace. 

      Thanks so much for sharing and taking time up to do so. Much appreciated, Phil


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