Dangers of Mixing Drugs And Alcohol
Since each human body processes drugs and alcohol differently, it’s impossible to know the exact effects combining substances can have. But know this – taking different kinds of drugs together, or mixing alcohol and drugs can be incredibly dangerous.
“Potentiation” can result from mixing alcohol with drugs, or taking two or more drugs at once.
Think of potentiation as 1+1 being greater than 2. It’s the compound effect you’ll feel from using one substance added with another, and it can be very difficult to predict. Beware of the potential dangers of combining alcohol with over-the-counter allergy, cold and flu medications as well.
What can happen?
The amounts consumed, the potency of the drug, and how an individual body processes each substance all factor into the equation, and the specific response to most drug combinations remains unstudied. So nothing is certain…or safe.
General Safety Tips
- Don’t mix alcohol and medicine without your doctor’s OK.
- Call your doctor right away if you have problems.
- Promptly refill your prescriptions.
- Use one pharmacy for all of your prescriptions.
A majority of Americans regularly take two prescription medicines per day, while 20 percent take five or more prescriptions per day. This isn’t unusual, but multiple medicines can interact in your body in ways that are difficult to predict.
Be safe by following these steps:
Keep a list of all medicines and vitamins/supplements you’re taking and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Include details about the brand name or generic name of the drugs, strengths, quantities and how often you take them. Note the dates you started and any changes. If you’ve stopped taking a medicine, include that, as well.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist about problems you’ve had with medicines, including rashes, indigestion, dizziness, loss of appetite or unusual physical or emotional reactions.
Ask if and how your medicine will interact with anything else you take or eat.
Read the instructions on the medicine. Know what, when and how much to take each day.
- “A majority of Americans regularly take two prescription medicines per day, while 20 percent take five or more prescriptions per day.” Mayo Clinic News Network. “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find,” , accessed 11/17/14. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/nearly-7-in-10-americans-take-prescription-drugs-mayo-clinic-olmsted-medical-center-find/
- “It’s the compound effect you’ll feel from using one substance added with another, and it can be very difficult to predict.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines”. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/medicine/medicine.htm Accessed 9/1/17.