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What are the risks of mixing medications with alcohol?

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January 17, 2023

Mixing medicines with alcohol is always a bad idea, but the mix with certain drugs can be – in addition to being unpleasant due to the adverse effects – also fatal.

Dangerous interactions

The interaction between different drugs – and alcohol is one of them – is one of the basic concerns of Pharmacology and doctors, who know how alcohol can increase, decrease or distort the response of the human body to different medicines .

53% of Argentines drink alcohol, according to the latest Sedronar survey. According to several studies, the mixing of alcohol and non-prescription drugs increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. The age of most alcohol consumption in Argentina is between 25 and 35 years.

Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of motor coordination, headache are the most frequent effects of mixing drugs with alcohol. But alcohol can also cause internal bleeding, fainting, breathing difficulties and serious heart problems.

Most medicines warn of the danger of consuming alcohol in their leaflets. This is especially true for psychotropics (depressant or stimulant drugs), analgesics and for drugs used in Cardiology, such as beta-blockers. But the warning also applies to over-the-counter drugs, anti-allergy drugs (such as loratadine and chlorpheniramine) and even certain herbal medicines.

For example, the Kava Kava plant can cause dizziness and liver damage if mixed with alcohol. For its part, the grass with yellow flowers St. John’s wort can cause heart problems and increased blood pressure, as well as dizziness and confusion, like some antidepressant drugs, when taken with alcohol.
Some cough and cold remedies can also be dangerous when mixed with alcohol.

What symptoms can be generated by each class of medicine, if it is associated with alcohol?

The list of adverse effects is too long, but some little-known and dangerous interactions are worth noting, as reported by the National Alcohol Institute (NIAAA) in the United States:

  • Anti-cholesterol drugs (atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin, lovastatin, niacin) + alcohol: can cause liver damage, gastric bleeding, itching, heat.
  • Antihypertensive drugs (losartan, benzapril, hydrochlorothiazide, enalapril, etc.) + alcohol: they can cause dizziness, fainting, arrhythmias.
  • Analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, aspirin) + alcohol: they can cause abdominal pain, ulcers, gastric bleeding, liver damage.
  • Diabetes drugs (metformin, glipizide, chlorpropramide, tolazamide, etc.) + alcohol: can dangerously lower blood sugar, cause nausea, dizziness, heat, arrhythmia, changes in blood pressure, weakness.
  • Sleeping pills (zolpidem, estazolam, temazepam, etc.) + alcohol: they can cause dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty breathing, loss of motor control, memory problems, changes in behavior.
  • Drugs against infections (ketoconazole, metronidazole, isionazid, azithromycin, doxycycline, sulfamethoxazole, linezolid) + alcohol: they can cause arrhythmias, changes in blood pressure, abdominal and headache pain, vomiting, fever or liver damage.
  • Antibiotics + Alcohol: Although alcohol does not impair the action of antibiotics, some such as penicillin and amoxicillin can cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain if taken with alcohol. In general, it is recommended to avoid alcohol when taking antibiotics.

Mixing drugs with alcohol: other keys

It is important to emphasize that small amounts of alcohol can lead to risky drug interactions and that the effects are worse in women and the elderly.

Finally, it must be clarified that alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant. This can increase the effect of opioid pain drugs and also the action of many antidepressant drugs. In addition, alcohol influences decision-making and causes memory problems.

Ultimately, alcohol can also contribute to overdose and death from illegal drugs in addition to legal ones. Therefore, alcohol should not be mixed with medication, as far as possible, and never when a person will handle.

redaccion@pensarsalud.com.ar Write to us!

Tags: drug abuse | alcohol | painkillers | antibiotics | antibiotics and alcohol | antidepressants | self-medication | problematic consumption | drugs | drugs | insomnia | drugs and alcohol | sleeping pills | irrational use of drugs

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