The Danger of Alcohol-Interactive Prescription Medications
Alcohol interacts negatively with numerous commonly prescribed medications. Yet, most drinkers do not understood about use of alcohol-interactive (AI) prescription medications. This is concerning since the majority of Americans consume alcoholic beverages, never knowing the potential danger they are in.
A new study has found that almost 42 percent of drinkers in the US population have used one or more AI prescription medications, medications that can interact with alcohol to cause numerous harms. These negative side effects can range from nausea, headaches, and loss of coordination to internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing.
In addition, data indicated that among seniors, aged 65 and older, the proportion was even higher, almost 78 percent. Seniors are more likely to take multiple medications to treat multiple diseases. There is also evidence that as we age, our ability to metabolize alcohol decreases, so alcohol might remain in our system longer to interact with medications. It is not just the metabolism of alcohol that slows. The metabolism of several medications that interact with alcohol slows as we get older, creating a larger window for potential alcohol/medication interactions.
Regardless of age, the main therapeutic classes of AI medications used in the population are: cardiovascular agents such as blood pressure medications; central nervous system agents such as sleeping pills; pain medications; muscle relaxers; metabolic agents such as medications for diabetes and cholesterol; and psychotherapeutic agents such as antidepressants and antipsychotics. Any of these medications can have negative interactions with alcohol.
Rosalind A. Breslow, an epidemiologist in the division of epidemiology and prevention research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as well as corresponding author for the study claims:
“Our findings highlight a major gap in the literature. We found no US nationally representative data that queried combined use of alcohol with a wide range of prescription medications and yet it appears that a large percentage of people who drink regularly could be at risk of serious alcohol and medication interactions.”
The research suggest that individuals, particularly the elderly, need to be better educated about of the risks of combining alcohol with their medications by prescribing doctors or pharmacists.