If you’ve ever been sick, there’s a good chance you know all about the magical powers of NyQuil. It’s that familiar green-fluid filled bottle we all have in our medicine cabinets for when we get sick. The effectiveness of NyQuil to relieve flu symptoms is almost as well known as the drowsiness it induces when taken in massive quantities. But besides the obvious (alcohol) there are some things about NyQuil that people don’t know.

With so much focus on different types of alcohol and other drugs, you may not realize that NyQuil has its own set of side effects and risks associated with its frequent use. That’s why this article will answer if nyquil will show up on a drug test and how to cope with an addiction to the bitter-cold-flu remedy.

What’s In NyQuil?

When you take a dose of NyQuil, you’re ingesting a mixture of several different active ingredients. The main ingredient in NyQuil is ethanol. Ethanol is the same stuff you’ll find in beer and wine, but at a higher concentration. Another active ingredient in NyQuil is dextromethorphan. This is a cough suppressant that’s also found in Robitussin.

The rest of the ingredients in NyQuil are there to make the ethanol and dextromethorphan easier (and safer) to digest. These include artificial sweeteners (like saccharin), artificial coloring agents (like Blue 1), and artificial preservatives (like potassium benzoate).

Will Nyquil Show Up On A Drug Test?

You may be wondering if NyQuil will show up on a drug test if you’re taking it for legitimate medical reasons. The answer is yes, but only if you drink a lot of it. NyQuil is classified as a “medicinal product containing alcohol” by the FDA, which means it contains more than 19% ethanol.

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In most situations, taking a small amount of NyQuil is unlikely to be detected in a drug test. Even if you’re taking it as a cough suppressant, it’s unlikely to be detected on a drug test unless you’re taking so much that it’s interfering with your daily activities.

How To Detox From NyQuil

The best way to detox from NyQuil is to drink plenty of water and limit your intake of the cough syrup. It’s not likely that you’ll be able to clear the alcohol from your system by taking more NyQuil, so you’ll need to abstain from the cough syrup entirely. T

aking lots of water helps flush out the alcohol in your system, while reducing your intake of the other ingredients in NyQuil (like dextromethorphan) that are making you feel drowsy.

Alternatives To NyQuil

If you’re concerned about the amount of ethanol in NyQuil, you may want to try another popular cold medicine, such as Robitussin. Robitussin is similar to NyQuil in that it contains a high amount of dextromethorphan, as well as artificial sweeteners and preservatives.

Like NyQuil, Robitussin is most effective when taken in high doses. It can be extremely helpful for people with persistent coughs, but you’ll probably want to go for the sugar-free option.


There’s a lot of misinformation out there about NyQuil, so it’s understandable if you have questions about its safety and efficacy. The good news is that there are ways to minimize the risks of taking NyQuil regularly if you have a legitimate need for it.

Taking lots of water, drinking plenty of coffee, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help neutralize the risks associated with too much ethanol in your system. If you’re concerned about the amount of dextromethorphan in your system, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking Robitussin instead. Avoiding large doses of NyQuil and taking regular breaks from its use can help you avoid an addiction to the cough syrup altogether.

David Warren

David Warren is a pharmaceutical specialist that dispenses prescription medication on a daily basis. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from the University of Tennessee in 1991. With over 50 publications on medication-related and pharmacy topics, David has been able to share his experiences and knowledge with others. David with lots of experience and knowledge in medications that are utilized to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Before David dispenses a medication to a patient, he will go over the side effects, dosage recommendation and contraindications.