Hydroxyzine and Alcohol: Can You Drink While Taking Vistaril?

Hydroxizyne is an anti-histaminergic drug which binds to the histamine receptor. It is commonly prescribed as a sedative, allergy medication and anxiolytic - a drug used to reduce anxiety. While there are no specific studies looking at the interaction between drinking alcohol and taking hydroxyzine, it is generally recommended to avoid alcohol while taking this medication due to additive sedative effects.
Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the
University of Oxford.

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Hydroxyzine: An overview

Hydroxyzine is a prescription antihistamine drug. Hydroxyzine is used to treat anxiety, allergic itching, motion sickness and inducing sedation before anaesthesia [1,2]. It produces a sedative effect by attaching to histamine receptors throughout the body and brain [1]. The widespread distribution and function of histamine receptors in controlling biochemical processes in the body mean hydroxyzine can also treat other peripheral conditions, such as interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder condition [3].

These widespread effects also mean that hydroxyzine has several side effects, which include weight gain, loss of concentration, sleepiness, insomnia or dry mouth. Nonetheless, these occur in less than 50% of individuals taking hydroxyzine [4].

Side effects of Hydroxyzine

Common and mild side effects of hydroxyzine are sleepiness, dry mouth, sporadic headaches, muscle weakness, and increased nausea [5]. In patients with anxiety, weight gain and insomnia were also reported as side effects present in over 10% of medicated patients [4]. Heartbeat irregularities [6] are also a common side effect of hydroxyzine and should be consulted with your physician if they occur often.

Serious side effects are rare but may include cardiac problems, skin reactions, tremors (dyskinesia), convulsions, uncontrolled movements, and severe allergic reactions [5].

Can you drink alcohol while taking Hydroxyzine?

Both alcohol and hydroxyzine are sedative, neuroactive drugs, which means that they interact within the brain. The combination of drinking alcohol and taking hydroxyzine may increase sleepiness and reduce coordination, increasing the risk of injury [7].

What should you do if you drank alcohol while taking Hydroxyzine?

If you have drunk alcohol while on hydroxyzine, keep monitoring your symptoms and feelings. It is best to not drink more than one unit of alcohol at a time to avoid crashing. You may want to mainly watch out for dizziness, drowsiness, or an upset stomach [7]. If you notice any of these symptoms, avoid having any more drinks. If you're feeling unwell or notice any unusual symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your medical provider will be able to adjust your treatment according to any side effects you have experienced.

Hydroxyzine Interactions with Other Drugs and Substances

It is essential to inform your healthcare provider of all the drugs or dietary supplements you are taking so they can account for any unwanted interactions.

As an antihistaminic drug, hydroxyzine can interact with:

  • blood pressure medication (e.g. statins, ACE-inhibitors, diuretics) [8]
  • central nervous system depressants / other sedatives (e.g. benzodiazepines, sleep medication, opioids)[8]
  • drugs metabolised by the CYP450 liver enzyme [8]
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) [8]
  • other antidepressants (e.g. citalopram) []

Hydroxyzine can be beneficially combined with cimetidine to treat gastric ulcers [10].

To summarise, there is limited evidence about the specific effects of drinking alcohol while taking hydroxyzine. It is, therefore, advised to stay cautious, monitor your symptoms and be aware of increased sedation when drinking alcohol while taking hydroxyzine.

Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is a postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. She has worked across a spectrum of hot topics in neuroscience, including her current project measuring reinforcement learning strategies in Parkinson’s disease. Previously, she studied the efficacy of psilocybin as a therapy for critical mental health conditions and examined molecular circadian rhythms of migraine disorders. She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow and participated in a year abroad at the University of California, where she worked on a clinical trial for spinal cord injury.