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.