Why should you avoid mixing medications? Whether they are legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or a mixture, substance users need to be careful when taking medications and alcohol. Mixing medication can lead to medical problems, and drug interactions can be deadly.
1. One Drug Can Change the Nature of the Other
Whether you are talking about legal or illegal drugs, one drug can change the nature of the other. This can make the impact of one of the drugs more intense or even dangerous. For instance, drugs that cause you to be drowsy such as allergy medication can lead to serious drowsiness if you take them with alcohol. If you then decide to do something such as drive a car, even if you have not had that much to drink, you can have problems.
2. Legal Drugs Do Not Always Mix
All drugs make changes in your body; this is their purpose. Sometimes those changes interact in ways that are negative. This means that even drugs that are prescribed legally do not always mix. For example, an FDA review discovered that “the growing combined use of opioid medicines with benzodiazepines or other drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS) has resulted in serious side effects, including slowed or difficult breathing and deaths.” According to the Chicago Tribune, even those trying to reduce their drug use could be at risk. For instance, “patients fighting opioid addiction by taking methadone or buprenorphine also take other prescription drugs that slow action of the central nervous system.”
The study also cited alcohol use as another potential risk factor when you are taking these medications. That means that if you are taking drugs for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, you need to be careful what kind of pain medication you take, and you also need to be aware of whether or not you are able to drink alcohol while you are taking either of these drugs. The dangers of mixing legal drugs are not limited to these two categories of medication. Drug interactions are always possible, and it is important to talk with a doctor or pharmacist if you are planning to take two prescribed drugs or a prescription and over-the-counter drug.
3. Medication and Alcohol Can Overload Your Body
Mixing meds and alcohol might seem like it cannot hurt, especially if the medication is legal or even prescribed by a doctor. However, there is a reason that there are warning labels on medication that tell you to avoid mixing it with alcohol. Those who are not good at processing alcohol are particularly at risk. For instance, seniors whose bodies are getting less tolerant of alcohol are more at risk than others in the population. Alcohol can interact with many different drugs in ways that could put an individual’s health at risk. These drugs include but are not limited to antibiotics, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, pain medication, blood thinners, blood pressure medication, cold medication, and diabetes medications. For instance, an individual who is taking diabetes medication could suffer low blood sugar if that medication is taken with alcohol.
If you have used alcohol with drugs, whether these drugs or illegal or prescribed or over the counter, watch for symptoms such as vomiting, drowsiness, pain, dizziness, rashes, and liver damage as the body tries to process multiple drugs and alcohol at the same time.
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