Many Americans know that mixing alcohol with certain medications is dangerous, but a growing number of people seem to be ignoring the warnings. In fact, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), millions of lives have been lost because they consumed alcohol while taking a medication that caused adverse reactions. In an effort to increase awareness of the dangers of mixing alcohol with certain prescription drugs, Medical Daily has put together a list of the six most deadly combinations.
- Stimulants and alcohol. – This is a dangerous combination because the mixture of alcohol and stimulants creates an entirely new substance in the body, called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene increases the level of stress on the heart and could increase the chances of a heart attack. Long term use of alcohol and stimulants can poison the heart as well.
- Antidepressants and alcohol. – For every drink that someone consumes while also taking antidepressants, it will feel like they have had two drinks. This is because antidepressants increase the potency of alcohol. The two chemicals also reduce a person’s ability to make good decisions and increases their risk for coma, seizures and confusion.
- Benzodiazepines and alcohol. – This is perhaps the deadliest of all the combinations. Benzos are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States and include medications like Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin. These drugs are typically prescribed for anxiety disorders, but the combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines are so deadly that nearly 20% of all alcohol-related deaths are due to this mixture. Oftentimes people who consume alcohol with benzos end up in the hospital due to respiratory failure. Both drugs are depressants and when taken together cause the body to slow down so much so that breathing can cease.
- Birth control and alcohol. – This is probably one of the most common combinations among female drinkers. It is dangerous because while the body is metabolizing the birth control pill, it is unable to process the alcohol regularly. This delay in processing causes many women to get drunk much quicker than they intended, paving the way for risky decision making, alcohol poisoning, and drunk driving.
- OTC medications and alcohol. – On the back of every single over-the-counter pain medication it states not to consume alcohol while taking these medications. This is because the combination can lead to liver failure. One study reports that 38% of people who suffer from acute liver failure first consumed too much OTC pain reliever while drinking.
- Opiates and alcohol. – This combination becomes more deadly as the amount of people who abuse heroin or prescription painkillers rises. Similar to benzodiazepines, opiates are depressants and people who take both alcohol and opiates can suffer from respiratory failure and other organ malfunctions.
Take the time to educate your friends, relatives and acquaintances about the dangers of mixing their prescriptions with alcohol, you might just help save someone’s life.