Before I answer this question I would like to say that the pharmaceutical industry and alcohol industry have highly influential lobbies. This can be seen if you go through the literature and even many medical scientists say that a particular amount of alcohol is not a problem. But, we should not forget alcohol is always a problem and excess intake of painkillers is also a big problem. You can give many reasons to say it is harmless; but, it is a bad combination is the truth. Alcohol can increase the side effects of the painkillers or it can increase the drowsiness which can lead to accidents on the road or in the factory.

Overdose of painkillers are possible if you drink alcohol. With the negative influence of the alcohol many tend to take overdose and this can be fatal.

There are two different groups of painkillers; the over the counter painkillers from the pharmacies and the prescription painkillers. Prescription painkillers are very strong painkillers. We can see here the effect of alcohol on some of the mostly used painkillers in our world. These include:

• Aspirin and ibuprofen – these are over the counter painkillers. The common side effects of aspirin include heartburn, nausea, upset stomach, bloody stools, confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, severe or persistent stomach pain and vomiting. In the case of ibuprofen the side effects include dizziness, headache, nausea, gas, stomach pain or upset, bloody stools, chest pain, confusion, depression, fainting, fast or irregular heartbeat, seizures, shortness of breath, yellowing of the skin or eyes and vomiting. With these side effects alcohol has no place with aspirin and ibuprofen. The recommendation of 3 to 4 drinks for men and 2 to 3 drinks for women is only industry friendly and can do much harm to the patient who really needs a painkiller. Alcohol may increase the side effects, such as bleeding in the stomach or intestine by irritating the stomach. Stomach inflammation or ulceration can be made worse with alcohol.
• Paracetamol or Acetaminophen – this is also an over the counter painkiller. It is relatively safe in therapeutic doses. The overdose can cause side effects and these include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sweating, extreme tiredness, unusual bleeding or bruising, pain in the upper right part of the stomach, yellowing of the skin or eyes and flu-like symptoms. Excess paracetamol can damage liver and here also the alcohol can only increase the side effects. Therefore, painkillers and alcohol cannot go together.

The side effects can be experienced only up to 10% of the persons taking the painkillers are not an argument to drink alcohol. If you take over the counter or prescription drugs you must avoid alcohol completely.

Strong pain killers like codeine, dihydrocodeine, tramadol, morphine, meperidine or others need prescription from the doctors. Considering the side effects of the above strong painkillers, particularly drowsiness, your doctor advises you normally not to take alcohol.