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Alcohol and nausea medicine: Can I mix Dramamine and alcohol?

Picture this—you’re on a cruise ship, start experiencing sea sickness, and you take Dramamine for motion sickness. Feeling better a few hours later, you step out on the dance floor. Before you know it, the waitstaff is offering you a delicious pina colada. As you gladly accept the frosty drink, you wonder, can I mix Dramamine and alcohol?

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Can you drink while taking motion sickness pills?

In addition to Dramamine, there are other pills that help ease the symptoms of motion sickness. Let’s look at the ingredients in the most common motion sickness medications and whether they are compatible with alcohol. 

Dimenhydrinate is the active ingredient found in various formulations of Dramamine, an over-the-counter medication (OTC). Dimenhydrinate and alcohol should not be mixed. On their own, these substances each can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination. Combined, these effects can be even stronger, making dimenhydrinate and alcohol a dangerous combination. There is also a higher risk of overdose. Signs of a Dramamine overdose can range from severe drowsiness to hallucinations, difficulty breathing, seizures, irregular heartbeat, and coma.  

Meclizine, also OTC, is the ingredient found in Bonine, another motion sickness medication. Meclizine is also found in Dramamine Less Drowsy (check the label for the ingredient). The same warnings apply to meclizine as dimenhydrinate—avoid combining Bonine and alcohol as you risk severe side effects and the possibility of overdose.  

Scopolamine, known as the brand-name Transderm-Scop, are popular prescription patches that can be used for three days and are popular among cruise ship guests. However, even though the patch is applied topically, the same warnings apply to scopolamine, and alcohol should be avoided. 

Promethazine is a prescription antihistamine used for a variety of reasons including motion sickness and nausea/vomiting. Promethazine and alcohol do not mix. Whether taken as an oral liquid or rectal suppository, mixing promethazine with alcoholic beverages can lead to excessive drowsiness and impaired mental coordination. These effects are more pronounced in older adults. What’s more, the oral solution formulation already contains 7% alcohol.  

Zofran (ondansetron), while not specifically for motion sickness, is a popular prescription medication used to treat nausea. Although Zofran and alcohol do not directly interact, Zofran has many common side effects that could be worsened by alcohol, such as drowsiness or dizziness. If you take Zofran, check with your healthcare provider regarding whether you can safely drink alcohol.

Dramamine and alcohol safety

RELATED: Can I drink while taking Benadryl (diphenhydramine)?

When can I drink if I’m taking motion sickness medication?

If you do want to enjoy a few cocktails after your medication has worn off, check with your healthcare provider regarding how long you should wait until you drink. With various formulations and dosages available, your healthcare provider can give appropriate medical advice on the proper amount of time to wait before you can drink. 

Can alcohol help motion sickness?

If you’re thinking about trying alcohol in lieu of medication to help with motion sickness, think again. It is better to avoid alcohol altogether when you are experiencing motion sickness, regardless of any medications you may be taking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people with motion sickness limit alcohol and caffeine (and drink plenty of water) to stay hydrated.

How can I avoid motion sickness if I want to drink alcohol? 

What if you do want to enjoy alcohol but avoid motion sickness or nausea? In addition to drinking plenty of water, here are some more tips to avoid getting motion sickness without taking a medication:

  • Watch what you eat. Some light snacks or a healthy meal can help prevent motion sickness. Think sandwiches on whole-grain bread, fruit, and water instead of heavy, greasy, or acidic foods. If you are already feeling motion sickness, try some dry crackers and ginger ale. 
  • Get some sleep. A quality night of sleep can help lower the risk of motion sickness.
  • Rest your head. In a car, lean your head against the headrest to keep your head steady. And don’t pick up that exciting book you’ve been dying to read or scroll through your phone—reading in a moving car is likely to result in motion sickness if you’re already prone.  

Always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for a personalized recommendation about mixing medications and alcohol. Because everyone has different medical conditions and takes different medications, it’s best to be safe by consulting your healthcare professional.