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Risky cocktails - 4: Alcohol and prescription drugs

Risky cocktails – 4: Alcohol and prescription drugs

07 August | 0 Comments | By Rachael

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported in 2015 that nearly 6.4 million people misused psychotherapeutic drugs (combination of pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) out of which 3.8 million people misused prescription pain relievers. However, the problem of prescription drug addiction aggravates if mixed with other drugs or alcohol.

Mixing alcohol and prescription drugs, incidentally or accidentally, may lead to dire consequences, including some severe medical problems, such as unconsciousness, alcohol poisoning, respiratory depression and even death. Some of the common prescription drugs used in combination with alcohol include prescription opiates (Vicodin, OxyContin), stimulant medication (Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta), sleeping medication (Ambien, Halcion, and Restoril), and sedative/anxiety medication (Ativan, Xanax, Valium).

Researchers have found a significant association between alcohol and nonmedical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD). People who start drinking at an early age are likely to use prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes. People with alcohol dependence are 18 times likely to report NMUPD.

Harmful effects of using alcohol and prescription drugs simultaneously

People are often ignorant about the harmful effects of concurrent use of prescription drugs and alcohol. Prescription sedatives, painkillers and tranquilizers are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, acute and chronic pain and sleep disorders. They are generally safe and effective for patients who take them under a clinician’s supervision.

Dr. James Colliver, formerly with the National Institute on Drug Abuse ‘s Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research said, “The problem is that many people think that, because prescription drugs have been tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, they are always safe to use; but they are safe only when used under the direction of a physician for the purpose for which they are prescribed.”

Taking medicines with/soon after alcohol use can intensify sleep, drowsiness and dizziness. It may further impair one’s ability to concentrate or perform mechanical skills. Older people are particularly vulnerable to falls and serious injuries under the combined effect of alcohol and prescription medicines.

Combining alcohol and prescription drugs have been reported to cause side effects including vomiting, blackouts and involvement in risky behaviors such as unplanned sex and drunk driving. It may also lead to serious complications including alcohol poisoning, unconsciousness, respiratory choking, liver and brain damage, and even death.

Different drugs may react differently with alcohol

Mixing anxiety medications, such as lorazepam and paroxetine may result in memory loss, irritability, disturbed coordination, drowsiness, overdose, difficulty in breathing and liver damage among others.

Similarly, people who combine heartburn and indigestion medication with alcohol may experience rapid heartbeat and sudden changes in blood pressure. Painkillers including ibuprofen and aspirin may increase the risk of complications including gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers, liver and kidney damage, and rapid heartbeat. Mixing alcohol with medications for sleep problems such as estazolam and temazepam may trigger drowsiness, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor control and memory problems.

It can be further dangerous to combine diabetes medication including chlorpropamide, glipizide, or tolazamide with alcohol as it may lead to complications such as rapid fluctuations in blood pressure, vomiting, abnormally low blood sugar levels, and rapid heartbeat.

People who are taking medicines to treat infections such as azithromycin or tinidazole should not consume alcohol as it may cause fast heartbeat, sudden changes in blood pressure, upset stomach, flushing or redness of the face and liver damage among others.

Road to recovery

Consuming prescription drugs with alcohol is a dangerous combination, offering a host of harmful effects including addiction due to long-term use. It is necessary to seek medical assistance to treat substance abuse problems. Sometimes, the medications prescribed to treat substance abuse contain addictive substances, which may induce craving for the new substance in the patient. Detox therapy, whether medically assisted

Detox or nutritionally assisted detox (NAD) help address the underlying issues and help a person regain control of his/her own life.

If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription drugs or any other substance, you may seek help from experts at the Detox Facilities Texas to gain information on some evidence-based detox centers in Texas. You can chat online or call our 24/7 helpline number 866-671-4308 for further help.

Read other articles in the series “Risky cocktails:”

  1. Alcohol and marijuana
  2. Alcohol and cocaine
  3. Alcohol and heroin