Recent research has shown that in the United States almost half of alcohol consumers have used one or more prescription medicine that interact with alcohol and can cause dangerous health problems. In some cases the interaction between the two can be deadly.
It is a known fact that alcohol interacts badly with hundreds of prescribed drugs, but until recently no research was made on a large population about the administration of alcohol-interactive medication by alcohol drinkers. Studies like that are necessary, as recent data shows that more than 70 percent of the U.S.’s adult population consumes alcohol.
The team that conducted the research was made of scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Maryland, and has analyzed the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey done between 1999 and 2010. A total of 26,657 adults with ages varying from 20 to 65 participated. They provided the necessary information about alcohol use while on prescribed medication.
The most used prescribed drugs among the participants were diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, painkillers and sleeping medication.
The study has revealed that 42 percent of American drinkers use one or more alcohol-interactive prescription medication. Dr. Rosalind Breslow, lead study author and epidemiologist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) explains that among the elderly population, with ages above 65, the percentage reached 78.
This high percentage can be explained by the fact that older people develop more chronic diseases and are, therefore, in need of multiple drugs to treat their conditions. This brings even more risk of developing dangerous side effects from alcohol use.
Dr. Breslow explains that as people age, their capacity to metabolize alcohol is lowered, and alcohol remains in their bodies for longer periods. This means that it can interact with medication even after some time has passed. The metabolism of medications also becomes slower, which furthermore increases the risk of alcohol-drug interaction.
Experts warn that mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can eve prove to have fatal. Particularly, sedatives, like sleeping pills, narcotic pain medication or muscle relaxers become very dangerous when mixed with alcohol. They can even cause life-threatening injuries.
The researchers recommend consuming alcohol in moderate quantities, and advise people who drink to talk to their doctor about the potential risks of combining certain drugs with alcohol. Men should have no more than four drinks a day, with a limit of 14 drinks per week, and women are recommended to have no more than three drinks per day and seven per week.
Results of the study are to be published in the February 2015 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
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