We tend to forget that alcohol is a toxin. Heck, we even forget that it’s a drug. But both are true. Alcohol causes cancer, particularly breast cancer; alcohol causes damage to DNA; alcohol reduces fertility in women. (Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-15114325) And this is just a start to the damage that alcohol alone can do. What happens when it’s mixed with other drugs?
Well, quite honestly, it can kill.
First, everyone uses acetaminophen, right? So how could it possibly hurt to mix this over-the-counter pill with alcohol? Well, if you aren’t attached to your liver, no worries. But if you are fond of your liver for the properties it has in keeping you healthy and alive, then never drink three or more alcoholic drinks while using acetaminophen. (Tylenol.com) Acetaminophen taken by itself in too large of a dose can damage your liver; alcohol can damage your liver. Together, the two can be a deadly mix.
Next, alcohol mixed with anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs are also a lethal combination. Alcohol is a depressant, so drinking along with these medications can cause the users to be more depressed or anxious. Further, anti-anxiety drugs and alcohol are both cleared through the body by the liver. Because the liver function is slowed down, both substances stay in the body longer, potentially leading to liver damage. Antidepressants that are monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and are mixed with alcohol can cause heart problems and dangerously high blood pressure. Therefore, those taking MAOIs should refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages at all. (health.com/family/medication-alcohol)
Third, alcohol and painkillers could be another deadly combination. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Alcohol […] can make the side effects of meperidine [Demerol] worse and can cause serious harm or death.” For other opioids, including Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Percocet (oxycodone), NIH says: “Drinking alcohol […] increases the risk that you will experience serious, life-threatening side effects.”
And, fourth, while we’re talking about alcohol and other drugs, what about alcohol and marijuana? It may kill you, because of alcohol poisoning caused by over-imbibing in alcoholic beverages while under the influence of marijuana, but it can also cause panic attacks and exaggerated effects and make you incredibly nauseated, among other concerns. (Psychology Today)
For more information about mixing alcohol and other drugs, visit: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm
Prescription drugs can negatively interact with other prescription drugs, too, so do these things to stay safe:
- Discuss with your healthcare professionals which prescription drugs you’re prescribed and using.
- Ask your healthcare professional or pharmacist about interactions before starting a new medication.
- Read all warning labels for all medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter ones.
- Use only one pharmacy so your pharmacist can help identify possible problems.
- Use a drug interaction checker to help prevent harmful interactions. There are many on the internet, including this one from the University of Maryland: http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/drug-interaction-tool
Uncomfortable conversations save lives, and, when it comes to mixing drugs, the life you save may be your own.