Many of us have heard of the dangers of mixing alcohol with medication, yet many of us still do it. The common belief is that alcohol either helps intensify the effects of the medication, helps the person relax more, or both. However, what many people don’t realize is that the medicine they are mixing with alcohol could be a dangerous combination. Researchers at the National Institute of Health explored the drinking and medication patterns of 26,000 adults and found that 42% of their participants were taking medication that could interact with alcohol.
Mixing alcohol with medication poses several risks, including:
- It could cause you to feel more depressed or anxious. Alcohol is considered a depressant, and when taken with antidepressant medication, symptoms that arise may be more difficult to treat.
- You could risk a dangerous reaction. Antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can cause a serious spike in blood pressure.
- Your thinking and alertness may be impaired. Some combinations of medication and alcohol may cause dizziness, confusion, and fatigue.
Other medications are as dangerous to mix with alcohol: anti-inflammatory medications, sleeping aids, blood pressure and cholesterol medications, anti-depressants, antibiotics such as metronidazole or tinidazole, birth control pills, allergy medicines that contain antihistamines or acetaminophen, and more. It is better to be safe than sorry.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism, the dangerous effects of mixing alcohol and medication can still be present, even if they are not taken at the same time. Women are also at greater risk because alcohol typically reaches a higher level and at a faster pace than men, even if both are drinking the same amount. Additionally, some medications such as cough syrups or laxatives may contain alcohol, which could cause further damage if more is taken.
Older adults are also at risk for dangerous mixes, especially since they take more medication. Not knowing what you are taking and its potential effects could cause profound consequences. If you mix alcohol with the wrong medication, you could face stomach bleeding, ulcers, liver damage, low blood pressure, depression, nausea, flushing, rapid heartbeat, extreme drowsiness, and even death. By avoiding mixing these unknown combinations, you could potentially save your life. If you are worried about the medication that you are on, speak with a doctor immediately.
Alcoholism is progressive. Thankfully, with the right treatment program and sober environment, recovery is also progressive. New Vista Behavioral Health offers a family of treatment providers, holding their clinical programs and continuums of care to higher standards resulting in exceptional outcomes. To find placement in one of our programs today, call us for information: 888-316-3665