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The Risks of Mixing Dramamine and Alcohol

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Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) is a common drug used to treat and prevent motion sickness and the symptoms that accompany motion sickness (e.g., nausea, vomiting, and dizziness).¹ Just like many other drugs, mixing Dramamine and alcohol may pose some risks and increase the negative side effects of the medication. If you are going to consume alcohol, you may want to try alternative methods for reducing motion sickness. And if you have taken Dramamine for motion sickness, drinking alcohol will not only increase symptoms like nausea but will cause other unwanted effects.

In this article:

Can You Take Dramamine and Drink Alcohol?

Dramamine is an antihistamine drug that helps treat motion sickness. Dramamine helps the vestibular (inner ear), visual (eyes), and other proprioceptive systems (like touch) work together to reduce your motion sickness.1,2

While most individuals notice nausea as one of the first signs of motion sickness, the body tends to give other signs that it is out of balance. These can include irritability, malaise, and drowsiness.2

One of the possible side effects of taking Dramamine is a feeling of tiredness or fatigue.¹ Both alcohol and Dramamine act as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning they slow your brain’s activity down.3 This combined impact can lead you to feel overly sedated or extremely drowsy. And because each person’s body metabolizes medications and substances differently, you will not know how many drinks it would take to have this effect.<sup.4 For some, it may be only one drink.

While Dramamine can be a safe and effective drug in treating motion sickness, mixing alcohol and Dramamine should be avoided.

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The Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Dramamine

Dramamine is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, which means you do not need a prescription, and you can easily access it in most major grocery stores and pharmacies.

While Dramamine’s main purpose is to help control motion sickness, Dramamine also interferes with several mechanisms in a person’s body. These include acetylcholine (cognition), serotonin (mood and sleep), norepinephrine (alertness), dopamine (reward and salience), opioids (pain), and adenosine (sleep and arousal).5

Histamine blockers, like Dramamine, can also interfere with bodily functions like hand-eye coordination and reaction time, as well as impair short-term memory and cause increased sleepiness.6 Like Dramamine, alcohol also acts as a CNS depressant, causing drowsiness, sedation, impaired coordination, slurred speech, and more. Alcohol use can negatively affect your mood, behavior, and impulse control.3 When Dramamine and alcohol are combined, these effects can be enhanced.

Dramamine Misuse

There has been a recent increase in the misuse of Dramamine, thereby reducing OTC access to the medication. Several studies suggest that Dramamine dependence can occur, typically seen with consistent usage and dosages of greater than 100 mg. Dramamine can cause sedation, hallucinations, and euphoria when used at this level.5

The combination of Dramamine and alcohol may increase the risks for misuse. People who take high quantities of Dramamine and consume high amounts of alcohol are most at risk of developing severe side effects due to the combination of alcohol and Dramamine.

If you have mixed alcohol and Dramamine, you may feel more sedated or dizzy. One of the most common side effects of Dramamine is fatigue or sedation, which can intensify when mixing in alcohol. Talk to your doctor or call 911 if you have taken Dramamine and alcohol together and are experiencing:5

  • Profound fatigue
  • Sedation
  • Changes in your mood
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

Increased amounts of either substance will increase the likelihood of intensified or dangerous symptoms.

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic condition that makes it difficult to control your drinking, despite concerted efforts. Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, can be characterized by:6

  • Experiencing unsuccessful attempts to reduce or control alcohol use
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Drinking more or more often than intended
  • Giving up or reducing important life activities due to alcohol use
  • Experiencing interpersonal problems caused by alcohol use
  • Developing a high tolerance to alcohol
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when abstaining from alcohol use
  • Continuing to consume alcohol despite physical or psychological problems caused by alcohol use
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining alcohol, drinking, and recovering from its effects
  • Drinking alcohol in dangerous situations, such as while driving
  • Continuing to consume alcohol despite failing to fulfill major obligations at home, school, or work

Experiencing just two of the above symptoms can indicate the presence of an alcohol use disorder, so it’s important to seek out an assessment from your provider if you suspect you have an alcohol addiction. They can evaluate your alcohol use, mental health, medical history, withdrawal risk, and more. Once they have this information, they can refer you to inpatient or outpatient care.

Additionally, you can call 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers to find an alcohol addiction treatment program near you.

Managing Alcohol Use Disorder and Motion Sickness

If you’ve been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and want to quit drinking, an inpatient or outpatient rehab can help you obtain and maintain sobriety. Both program settings include a combination of various therapies, such as individual and group counseling, medication management, and therapeutic activities like peer support meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and experiential activities.

If you are worried about taking Dramamine while drinking, you can manage and treat motion sickness without medication using alternative methods. Prepare yourself in advance for situations where you may experience motion sickness, such as identifying the triggers that cause your motion sickness.

Behavioral strategies can include:2

  • Gently increase the motion
  • Place yourself in certain parts of the transportation vehicle
    • On airplanes, you can sit over the wings
    • In cars, you can drive or sit in the front passenger seat
    • On boats, attempt to face toward the waves and away from the rocking of the most forward part of the boat
    • On buses and trains, sit near the front on the lowest level
  • Avoid certain types of motions (i.e., complex motions, low-frequency motions, vertical motions, or traveling during difficult weather conditions)
  • Reduce difficult travel or travel in certain locations (i.e., the mountains)
  • Avoid reading, phone, or computer work while in motion
  • Concentrate on a distant point of the horizon
  • Attempt to match your body with the motion (i.e., tilt your head into the turns or move your entire body with the motion)

Other Tips for Reducing Motion Sickness

Reducing and minimizing physical or mental discomfort sources before exposure to the motion sickness trigger may also help you. This could include avoiding alcoholic beverages, avoiding traveling on an empty stomach, or eating certain types of food to reduce an upset stomach. Sleeping can also minimize the exposure to motions that cause sickness.

You should also stay hydrated and satiated before the motion. Distracting yourself or using effective coping mechanisms may also reduce symptoms of motion sickness, such as listening to music, practicing mindfulness, or breathing techniques. Ginger root has also been studied as an alternative recommendation for motion sickness. However, research has shown it may have more of a placebo effect rather than proven effectiveness.2

Additionally, you may want to speak with your doctor about alternative medications to Dramamine to treat motion sickness. Other medications or medication methods may have different side effects or interactions with alcohol and be less likely to cause potentially dangerous symptoms.2

If you have alcohol use disorder, call 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers to learn more about your rehab options.


  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2022). Dimenhydrinate. MedlinePlus.
  2. Brainard, A., & Gresham, C. (2014). Prevention and treatment of motion sickness. American family physician, 90(1), 41-46.
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021). Alcohol. MedlinePlus.
  4. ​​Cederbaum A. I. (2012). Alcohol metabolism. Clinics in liver disease, 16(4), 667-685.
  5. Bahji, A., Kasurak, E., Sterling, M., & Good, L. (2021). Misuse and dependence of dimenhydrinate: A mixed studies systematic review. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 136, 581-588.
  6. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. American Psychiatric Association Publishing.
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