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Mixing Alcohol and Prescription Drugs

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol with Prescription Drugs?

If you are, or someone you know is, addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol, long-term damage to the body could be incredibly serious — and even lead to death. The effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs can vary significantly from mild effects to life-threatening complications, so it is always important to talk with a medical provider about the effect drinking alcohol may have with your medications. The dangers of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol range from canceling out side effects to causing violent tremors or death, so knowing the type of medication you are on is important.
“The effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs can vary significantly from mild effects to life-threatening complications.”
Alcohol is a depressant, so mixing it with another depressant, for example, can be incredibly dangerous. For information about the medications you take and the interactions they could cause with alcohol, contact our 24-hour hotline at . Our staff is happy to help you understand the functions and dangers of your medications.

Women are often at a higher risk for problems due to mixing drugs and alcohol. This is because men have more water in their bodies, allowing the alcohol and medications to be diluted. This means that a glass of wine is more potent for a woman than it is for a man, which can lead to more alcohol remaining in the body over a longer period of time. Being older also affects the way alcohol and drugs would interact in the body. Alcohol breaks down slowly in older adults because aging causes the body’s ability to eliminate alcohol to wane. Older adults are at a higher risk for interactions because they also may need to take more medications, which means that there is a greater likelihood that their medications will have a side effect with alcohol.

If you would like to learn more about your current medications and whether they can cause an interaction with alcohol, contact our hotline at . Our staff is happy to help you understand your medications and to direct you to facilities that can give you the insight you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Did You Know?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some medications can contain up to 10 percent alcohol.

Types of Interactions

drowsiness Allergy, cold, and flu medications can cause interactions with alcohol. Some of these drugs include loratadine, fexofenadin, and chlorpheniramine. These drugs interact with alcohol by causing an increased risk of drowsiness, dizziness, and by increasing the risk of an overdose. Many cold and flu medications also contain alcohol, so it is important to check the labels.

Anxiety and epilepsy drugs can also be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Drugs like alprazolam or clonazepam can cause interactions such as:

  • Increased drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased risk for overdose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired motor control
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Memory problems

If you or someone you know has taken any of these medications in combination with alcohol and having these symptoms, contact a medical provider immediately. Being addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol can cause serious damage to the body. If a person is having trouble breathing or won’t wake up, call 911. It is important to get emergency help as soon as possible if a patient is showing signs of lethargy, having problems breathing, or if he or she will not wake up. These could be signs of deadly interactions or overdose.

Did You Know?

Taking alcohol with epilepsy drugs can increase the risk of seizures.

Treatment for Those Who Mix Drugs and Alcohol

outpatient treatment centerSomeone who is addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol may need to go to detoxification and rehabilitation centers to recover. It is important to get the patient the help he or she needs as soon as possible to avoid interactions that could cause permanent damage to the body. Detoxification facilities can help eliminate the use of alcohol or prescription drugs, depending on which the patient is abusing. Alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation are often necessary, and they can be completed in inpatient or outpatient facilities, depending on the patient’s needs.

Outpatient clinics may be good for those who need to remain at home, continue work, or keep going to school. These clinics will focus on psychological therapies for addictions, and they will also sometimes entail detox on an outpatient basis.

Inpatient clinics are best for those with serious addictions to drugs or alcohol. These clinics allow a patient to live on site, which means he or she will have the help needed 24 hours a day. This includes detoxification, rehabilitation, and emotional and physical addiction elimination.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.

Did You Know?

Diabetics may suffer from extremely high or extremely low blood sugars due to alcohol use and how it interacts with insulin. It is very dangerous for a diabetic to be addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol.

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