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Heed the Drug Warnings

You’ve seen the warning labels on medications. Even the simplest over-the-counter drugs have it: do not mix with alcohol. You are putting yourself at risk when you mix drugs with alcohol.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. In small or moderate doses, alcohol often works as a stimulant. In larger doses, the body responds by slowing down critical functions and impairing motor function.

This article covers the dangers involved and why it’s never a good idea to combine alcohol and drugs—whether legal or illegal.

Over-the-Counter Medications and Alcohol

There are over-the-counter medicines that can make you drowsy, sleepy or lightheaded. Alcohol can have the same effects. When the two are combined, you can get so sluggish or unsteady that it can impair you to the point of creating a dangerous situation. Driving and other tasks can have fatal consequences. Allergy medicines are particularly risky when mixed with alcohol, so read the label on this OTC medication as well as any others.

Antidepressants and Alcohol

Antidepressants taken with alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of what the medication was originally intended to do: treat depression. Taking the two together can negate the effects of the antidepressants, while possibly making you feel more depressed and anxious.

Mixing antidepressants and alcohol can have the following effects:

  • Feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Worsening the undesirable side effects of other medications
  • Feelings of drowsiness or lethargy

Cocaine and Alcohol

Both cocaine and alcohol have been shown to affect heartbeat rates, and when taken together can elevate heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels. You can easily have a heart attack or stroke, which can lead to death, if you combine the two substances.

When the two are consumed together, they create a chemical in the body called cocaethylene, which may cause serious heart injury and liver disease as it accumulates in the liver. If you are dependent on cocaine and alcohol, the dangers of severe and fast heart damage, due to the large amounts of both substances always being present in your body, is a real possibility.

Painkillers and Alcohol

The combination of painkillers and alcohol can cause serious injury and possibly cause death. Prescription drugs like Darvocet, Demerol, Fiorinal, Percocet, Oxycontin and Vicodin are all well-known and widely prescribed medications for pain management. If you mix any of these with alcohol, you may experience drowsiness and dizziness, increase your risk for overdose, have slowed or difficulty breathing as well as impaired motor control. You may also display unusual behaviors and experience memory problems.

Good Advice

This information covers just some of the possible combinations of medications and illegal substances that become more dangerous to your health when combined with alcohol, but there are more that aren’t covered here.

It’s important to be cautious when you are taking any type of medicine or substance—whether it’s over-the-counter, prescribed or illicit—and combine it with alcohol. The resulting negative effects can happen quickly and subtly. It’s important to never take the risk, so you can stay healthy and let legitimate medications do their job properly.

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The Dangers of Mixing Drugs and Alcohol
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