More than 40% of Drinkers Mix Drugs & Booze
New research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that half of America’s drinkers combine prescription drugs with alcohol. These dangerous drug interactions can result in major health issues and even death in some cases.
The study, which will appear in the February 2015 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, featured an analysis of data from more than 25,000 adults who shared information about their drug and alcohol consumption. The researchers analyzed data from 1999–2010. Currently, more than 70% of American adults drink alcohol. Given the fact that many common prescriptions have drug interactions with alcohol, it stands to reason that at least some percentage of American adults are putting themselves in harm’s way by combining their medications with alcohol.
The study found that commonly prescribed drugs like medications for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and even prescription opiate painkillers were used in combination with alcohol in many cases. In fact, more than 40% of those who consumed alcohol in the study were also taking one or more prescription drugs leading to prescription drug abuse.
Seniors Combine Medications with Alcohol More than Others
However, seniors (defined as people over 65 years old) had a rate of combining drugs and alcohol that was nearly 78%. Researchers believe that this higher rate of combining drugs and alcohol among seniors was due to the fact that they tend to have more health problems and take more medications. However, seniors also more severe effects when mixing drugs and alcohol than young people. Seniors’ bodies have a lowered ability to process chemicals, meaning that the drugs and alcohol stay in their systems longer and increase the probability that a harmful interaction will occur. Drug detox at any age is the answer to alcohol and drug addiction.
Staying Clear of Dangerous Drug Interactions
While taking prescription medications with alcohol is never a good idea, some drugs are more likely to combine with alcohol than others. For instance, muscle relaxants, sedatives, and prescription opiates can all lead to serious problems in the brain. As all of these drugs work as depressants, they can suppress brain stem activity, which shuts down the basic bodily functions that keep us alive, like breathing and heart activity.
Getting Medical Advice & Professional Care for Alcoholism
Doctors and medical professionals say that any time you take a new prescription drug it’s important to consult with your doctor about drug interactions. Drugs can interact with a number of things. Factor in alcohol and you’re making an especially dangerous move. Avoid drinking too much when taking a new drug. However, if you can’t control your excessive drinking, that may be another reason to seek help.