Mixing Alcohol with Prescription Drugs

Mixing alcohol and Prescription drugsMost of us have read the warning on our medicine bottles—“Do Not Mix with Alcohol.” The warning is real and the danger is serious.  Yet many Americans ignore these instructions or fail to remember or act on the warning if alcohol is present.

One recent study found that nearly 65% of people have had a drink or two while taking prescription medications that interact dangerously with alcohol.

This problem has become increasingly common among women. Between stresses such as work, children, school, families and even hobbies, it can be easy to accidentally mix these two substances, even though the consequences can be deadly.

Why do we combine alcohol and prescription drugs?

  • Sometimes people just don’t take the prescription warnings to heart.
  • Sometimes people don’t notice the warnings.
  • Some people combine the two on purpose in order to achieve a feeling of being high.
  • In some cases, people forget that they took the medication and drink anyway.
  • There may be a problem with alcohol dependence that makes the person feel unable to stop drinking.
  • In some cases, a person has taken particular drugs for so many years (as in chronic conditions or illnesses like bipolar disorder) that the person doesn’t think about the medicines when alcohol is present.

What are the risks of combining alcohol and prescription medication?

Every person is different, and every medication is different. There are many possibilities that may occur when drugs are mixed with alcohol. For women in particular, mixing alcohol and prescriptions can be very dangerous as women tend to be more sensitive to both alcohol and medicines than men.

Some potential problems of combining the two together might include:

  • Decrease in the efficacy (power) of the drug
  • The alcohol might make the medicine stronger, harmful or toxic
  • Severe side effects may occur, including cardiac arrest
  • Internal problems like internal bleeding, breathing difficulties or seizure
  • Sleepiness, drowsiness, fainting and lightheadedness

In any case, it is important not to drive while drinking and taking medicine. Also keep in mind that even some over-the-counter medications can interact with alcohol.

Is Someone You Love Combining Drugs and Alcohol?

If someone you love is continually combining drugs and alcohol, that person may have a substance abuse problem. In some cases, the mixture of medications and alcohol can cause a “high” feeling, which can become addictive. In other cases, individuals might not be able to stop drinking, even if it is dangerous.

If you or someone you love is combining alcohol and prescription drugs, we can help. We offer a confidential toll-free helpline to help guide you and your family through treatment options ranging from simply finding someone to talk with to staging an intervention for someone you love. Our counselors can help you understand more about dangerous drug interactions and know when help is needed. Call today and find out how we can help you.