A new study confirms what researchers already suspected, alcohol use and prescription medications do not mix and can be a very risky activity. Researchers discovered that more than 40% of American adults have mixed alcohol and prescription drugs, and these drugs ranged from antidepressants to narcotics to diabetes medicines. The rate of alcohol use with prescription medications is especially alarming in the elderly population. According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism epidemiologist Rosalind A. Breslow “To our knowledge there have been only four previous U.S. population-based studies. “Ours is a national-level study that estimates the proportion of adult drinkers who use a wide range of prescription medications that can interact with alcohol to cause numerous harms ranging from nausea, headaches, and loss of coordination to internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing.”
Mixing alcohol use with prescription medications can be deadly. Some drugs are intensified when alcohol is added to the mix, and some will be less effective. Breslow continued by saying “People develop more chronic diseases as they age so older people are more likely to be taking medications, many of which can interact harmfully with alcohol. They also may be taking multiple medications to treat multiple diseases. Furthermore, the metabolism of several medications that interact with alcohol slows as we get older, creating a larger window for potential alcohol/medication interactions.
For instance, diazepam — known as Valium — hangs around in the body about three times longer in a 60-year-old than a 20-year-old, thereby creating a much longer window for potential interactions with alcohol.”