Tag Archives: medications

Continued Dangers of Combining Alcohol and Medications

medications and alcoholMany 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.

The Dangerous Practice of Mixing Alcohol and Prescription Drugs

rxbottlesIt has been a longstanding order by most physicians that one should never mix alcohol while taking medications, especially when it involves painkillers or anti-anxiety drugs. However, some researchers have started to wonder if these warnings by doctors are falling on deaf ears and what the medical community can do about this.

Mixing any alcohol and prescription drugs can have a wide range of adverse effects, from nausea to internal bleeding. There can also be long-term liver damage and other problems as well, especially as intoxication levels can increase rapidly.

A recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed that 42% of adults living in the United States admit to drinking alcohol while taking medications that they have been warned interact negatively with alcohol. Further research indicated that over 80% of adults over the age of 65 are taking some sort of medication that has been proven to interact poorly with alcohol.

As people get older, the number of medications the take often increases, and there has also been a trend of increased alcohol consumption among retired populations. Experts suggest that instead of simply warning patients not to mix their medications with alcohol, or relying on them to read the insert provided by the pharmacy, doctors should inquire into their patient’s alcohol usage and have a more interactive approach to preventing this dangerous behavior.

“I think it’s important as healthcare providers that we’re actually asking patients what is their alcohol intake? We also need to ask how frequently they are drinking and how much,” explained Dr. Daniel Neides, a doctor at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

The increased risk certainly isn’t limited to older people, as the nation as a whole has increased the number of prescription drugs people are taking, both in quantity and variety. Many people are also on multiple medications, which only continues to complicate the issue further.

Help Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teens

The Drugs Are Coming From Inside the House: The Scary Reality of Prescription Medication Abuse

generationrxWhen some people first hear the term War on Drugs they still probably picture a heroin junkie, maybe a drug lord, some syringes or maybe even a frying egg in the memorable, age-old “This is your brain on drugs” Public Service Announcement.

What people don’t usually think of is their bathroom. They don’t think of the cabinet behind the mirror or the top drawer. They don’t think of the places where their prescriptions sit unprotected. This can potentially be a deadly oversight, especially for parents.

Prescription drug misuse is no new threat, but it is a threat that tends to fly under the radar at home, even despite all of the efforts to educate parents and teenagers alike. The pills are perceived to be less dangerous than street drugs since they come from doctors and are often widely available. For this reason, it is just as important now as ever to take action against the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, especially in teens. Fortunately, as this problem grows, we are presented with more and more tools to educate the public and prevent misuse.

According to Ohio State researchers, someone dies from intentional use and subsequent overdose of prescription drugs every 19 minutes. In 2007, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy created the Generation Rx initiative to specifically address the dangers of abuse when it comes to pharmaceuticals.

The program offers free informational tool kits aimed at specific audiences. The university holds conferences and workshops that are designed to share Ohio State’s research with the public in an interesting and informative way.

Online, the Generation Rx website provides medication safety and prescription drug abuse prevention education for schools, colleges and communities. By expanding the program to the national level, the partners hope to increase awareness and decrease the alarming rates of misuse and overdose in the US.

A year after Generation Rx was created, Abbott and Partnership for a Drug-Free America launched the campaign “Not In My House” to help parents secure their homes from teen prescription drug abuse. The campaign was sparked after a 2007 national survey uncovered some startling facts. To paraphrase, the survey showed that 70% of teens who reported abusing prescription medications (1-in-5) got the medications in their own home or from a family-member and believe there is no harm in taking them once in a while.

Now, six to seven years later, we continue to see teens overdose on prescription drugs, commonly mixed with alcohol or over-the-counter drugs. We also continue to see addicts make the shift from prescription drug use to heroin use. The main difference between heroin and a drug like Oxycontin is the time-release effect of oxycodone, allowing the pill to relieve pain over a long period of time. Drug users, however, would simply crush the pill, snort it or inject it, and experience an immediate high similar to heroin.

Opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen), Oxycontin (oxycodone HCI), Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen), codeine, and morphine are all derived from the same natural substances as heroin. When heroin is cheap and available, it too often serves as the logical next step for many who are already dependent on painkillers.

Prescription drug abuse isn’t limited to painkillers. There is an increasingly wider range of medications being misused among teenagers and adults as well. These drugs include stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, sleeping pills like Ambien, sedatives such as Xanax or Valium and many, many others.

To aid in the fight against prescription drug abuse in teens, take a note from NotInMyHouse.com and monitor your prescriptions, secure your bottles and dispose of your drugs in a safe manner. Click here for more details on how to keep your prescription drugs – and the people around you – safe.