Mixing alcohol and certain medications can be dangerous and can even prove to be life-threatening. Alcohol interacts with medications in a number of ways. It includes:
- Increasing or decreasing the effectiveness of medication
- Making a person drowsy
- Causing dizziness
- Making someone unconsciousness
Most of the medications have warnings mentioned, which most of the time are ignored. Every October the National Council on Patient Information and Education takes the initiative to remind the physician and the patient of the importance of paying attention to the warning and not mixing medications with any substance that can prove to be harmful.(1)
The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Medications: What You Need to Know
The effects of mixing alcohol are mostly seen with medications including sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, and pain relievers. Mixing alcohol with these medications can also increase the risk of falls or accidents.
Another danger of mixing alcohol with medication is that it interferes with the way the medication is metabolized in the body. Alcohol can also increase the risk of certain medications in the body that can lead to an overdose of the medication. This can prove to be dangerous with medications such as Acetaminophen, as its high dose can damage the liver.
Alcohol getting mixed with blood-thinning medications can increase the risk of bleeding. On mixing with antibiotics, alcohol may lessen its effect.
Alcohol may mix with antidepressants may increase the effect of alcohol making a person feel more drunk. This may put a person at an increased risk of accidents.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and negatively interacts with all classes of medications, from OTC medications to herbal supplements.
The symptoms of interaction include the following:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Redness of the skin
- Liver damage
There can be a lethal interaction between alcohol and OTC drugs, which may lead to suppression of breathing.
If someone experiences any unusual symptoms while taking any medication, it is important to contact a doctor. Sometimes severe reactions may need emergency treatment.
Aging, Alcohol, and Medications
As the body ages, they get slow as well. It may take time to clear the medication and alcohol, this may make the adults more sensitive to the effects. Aging reduces the capacity to tolerate and process alcohol.
Also, as a person ages the risk of suffering from chronic disease increases. More diseases make a person take in more medication, and more will be the side effects if there is alcohol intake.
The interaction risk can be reduced by avoiding alcohol. If taking medication and ever drinking alcohol, make it a rule to consume it in moderation.
Safe Management of Medication
No matter what a person’s age or health status is, steps can be taken whatever the prescription is, to keep safe.
It is important to inform the doctor of any medication that you are already taking, before starting any new prescription from him. Known about the risks and side effects of the medication.
Healthcare providers mostly provide important information about the drug and their interactions.
On getting any new prescription, make sure to take all the information about the drugs and not start it before getting clear information about its potential risks.
Use the Same Pharmacy
Always get the prescription refilled from the same pharmacy, so that the interactions of the medication dispensed can be identified.
Mixing alcohol with certain medications can be dangerous and even life-threatening. It may increase the sedative effects of the medications, alter the way the medication is metabolized in the body, or cause dangerous side effects. It is, therefore, important to talk to the doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medication and to let them know if you are drinking alcohol. They can advise on whether it would be safe to drink while taking medication and if there are any precautions needed along.