Mixing alcohol and prescription medications is a dangerous practice that can result in life-threatening risks. Some people may mix medication and alcohol to experience a greater high, increase the effects of the medication, or are simply unaware of the dangers. Whatever the reason, combining prescription medications and alcohol can have serious life-threatening consequences.

Prescription Drug Abuse Effects

There are a variety of different prescription medications, however, most people commonly abuse the substances below.

  1. Opioids and Morphine Derivatives

These medications are prescribed to relieve pain, but can also slow the heart rate, slow or stop breathing, and cause unconsciousness. These types of drugs include codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone. The risks associated with mixing these with alcohol is life-threatening.

  1. Depressants

These types of drugs are most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. Examples include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sleep medications. They can lower blood pressure and cause respiratory distress when abused or combined with alcohol.

  1. Stimulants

These types of medications are used to treat narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and obesity. Amphetamines and methylphenidate are examples of stimulants. When abused, stimulants can cause heart issues, such as high blood pressure and heart attack, seizures, increased metabolism, and stroke.

Alcohol and Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug addiction and abuse is an increasingly prevalent issue in society. According to a 2015 study by the National Institute of Health, nearly 42% of adults in America who drink reported using medications known to interact with alcohol; among people aged 65 and older, the number increased to 78%. This is most likely due to the fact that older people often take multiple prescription medications and are unaware of the risks when drinking alcohol on these medications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in about 19% of opioid painkiller-related emergency room visits, alcohol had been consumed. In over 22% of cases of deaths due to prescription medications, alcohol was also a factor.

Get Informed

Knowledge is power- it is important to be educated on the risks associated with prescription medication. Knowing about the risks as well as the dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol will help avoid potentially deadly situations.

  • Understand what it means to abuse prescription drugs. Anytime a prescription drug is taken in any other manner than intended, there is potential for abuse and addiction. This includes taking more often than prescribed, taking a higher dose than prescribed, combining with alcohol or other drugs, or altering the drugs chemical makeup.
  • Know which drugs have the potential to be abused. Understand the risks associated with certain types of medications and take them only as prescribed. This includes opiates, depressants, and stimulants. Being educated on the risks of addiction, abuse, and mixing prescription drugs reduce the chances of a life-threatening situation.
  • Choose to make healthy decisions when it comes to taking prescription drugs. Take them only as prescribed, and for only the period of time that they are meant to be taken. Only take medication that has been prescribed by a trusted physician and pharmacist that informs of the correct dosage and administration. Make sure to inform the doctor if the medication is no longer working. Following these guidelines and being aware will ensure that the right decisions pertaining to prescription medications.


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