Pouring Red Cough Medicine

Answer

While you may feel some minor effects from the alcohol contained in NyQuil, it's extremely unlikely that it will cause intoxication or get you 'drunk'.

NyQuil contains 10% alcohol by volume. Compare this with the average percentage of alcohol in common beverages:

  • Beer (4-6%)
  • Wine (12-16%)
  • Liquor (35-60%)


'One standard drink' of alcohol is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as 14 grams of pure alcohol.

In terms of the standard alcoholic beverages, 14 grams of alcohol equates to:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor


While NyQuil is more concentrated in terms of alcohol content than most beers, it is important to consider how much you are consuming.

One dose of NyQuil is 30mL (one ounce). This yields only about 3 grams of pure alcohol per dose, less than a quarter of what is considered to be 'one standard drink'.

Considering that it takes multiple 'standard drinks' for someone to become intoxicated, it stands to reason that you really can't get drunk on NyQuil unless it is misused or abused.

You are far more likely to experience serious adverse effects from ingesting too much of the active ingredients in NyQuil before you are much affected by the alcohol content.

Nevertheless, if you have a medical condition or are taking medication that inhibits the metabolism of alcohol (e.g. Antabuse), it is feasible that you may feel some untoward effects from any amount of alcohol you consume.

Section Summary
One dose of NyQuil contains less than one-fourth the amount of pure alcohol that you would consume from one 'standard' drink. Unless abused, misused or there is a reason you can't metabolize alcohol efficiently, NyQuil won't make you 'drunk' at recommended doses.

About NyQuil

NyQuil is a combination cough/cold product that contains the following ingredients:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Doxylamine

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol. It is used as an analgesic and fever reducer.

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant, and is the active ingredient in Delsym.

Doxylamine is a sedating antihistamine, similar to Benadryl. Although it will help with allergy related symptoms (e.g. runny nose, watery eyes), it is the ingredient in NyQuil responsible for the sedative effects.


Summary

NyQuil contains 10% alcohol by volume. Recommended doses are unlikely to get you 'drunk' but could potentially cause alcohol-related effects, such as drowsiness.

References
  1. Alcohol By Volume. Alcohol.org
  2. What Is A Standard Drink? NIH
  3. NyQuil Manufacturer Website. NyQuil.com