Can You Take Xanax With NyQuil?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not Xanax can be taken with NyQuil.

Question

I currently take Xanax as needed. Not every day, but once in a while. Can I take NyQuil at night? Is there an interaction?

Asked by Josiah On Sep 30, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Sep 30, 2022
Last updated Jul 23, 2024

Key points

  • Combining NyQuil and Xanax increases the risk of side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and, in more serious cases, breathing troubles.
  • The combination of NyQuil and Xanax should generally be avoided.

Answer

Both Xanax (alprazolam) and NyQuil (acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine) can potentially cause respiratory depression, sedation, and other CNS effects.

At the very least, the combination will likely make you feel quite drowsy, and in some cases, produce more serious side effects depending on how much you take of each. You also have to consider that NyQuil contains some alcohol, which also should not be used with Xanax.

So, overall, the use of these medications may worsen the potential side effects and should only be used together with caution. Spacing the medications out or avoiding the use of products containing antihistamines are two possible ways to avoid the interaction.

NyQuil Information

Nyquil comes in a variety of formulations and contains several different ingredients.

The interacting ingredient with Xanax is the antihistamine doxylamine. Doxylamine is a first-generation antihistamine that crosses the blood-brain barrier to cause CNS side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness. Other first-generation antihistamines include Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine), Tavist (clemastine), and Phenergan (promethazine), among others.

Xanax Information

Xanax is FDA approved for the treatment of anxiety, anxiety associated with depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. It is also approved for panic disorder. Xanax usually starts working within 15-30 minutes and reaches peak effect in about 1-2 hours. The half-life of alprazolam is approximately 11 hours and should be completely cleared from the bloodstream in about 3 days. The risk of causing additive effects with Nyquil would be low after about 24 hours but is highly dependent on patient-specific factors like liver function and weight.

NyQuil - Xanax Alternatives

To help avoid the interaction with Xanax and doxylamine, other cold & flu products may be used depending on the reason for taking the medications.

Dayquil Cold & Flu contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine, but does not contain any antihistamines. Single-ingredient products may be preferred to avoid the greater risk of multiple medications.

Final Words

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References

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at [email protected]! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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