Alcohol and Medication: These Are the Medications You Should Never Mix With Alcohol

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By Korin Miller

Original Source: self.com

Recently, Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise contestant Corinne Olympios spoke to Good Morning America about the dangers associated with mixing alcohol and medications. She was speaking specifically in reference to the scandal surrounding the filming of this season’s Bachelor in Paradise, when allegations of sexual assault arose involving Olympios and fellow contestant DeMario Jackson. An internal investigation determined that no assault had taken place, and now Olympios is speaking out about what happened, including a possible explanation for why she had no recollection of the encounter.

“I did drink, you know, too much. I definitely understand that,” she said on Good Morning America. “But I was also on a medication that severely blacks you out and impairs your judgment and, you know, messes with you that I didn’t know you were supposed to not drink on.” She added: “So it really just caused a horrible, horrible blackout. It was like I went, like, under anesthesia and then just, like, woke up.” Olympios also spoke to People and said, “I drank a little too much when I was on medication. I shouldn’t have been drinking that much and mixing different alcohols.”

You’ve heard before that you shouldn’t mix alcohol with medication, but it’s worth repeating: “There are many drugs that can interact with alcohol resulting in loss of memory and consciousness,” James J. Galligan, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology and toxicology and director of the neuroscience program at Michigan State University, tells SELF. “Even one or two drinks can interact with some drugs to produce severe intoxication and potentially loss of consciousness in some people.”

These drugs usually come with a warning that tells people not to drink alcohol while taking the medication, Dr. Galligan says, but most people forget, don’t read them, or choose to ignore them. Aside from memory loss, there are other serious health implications that can come when you mix certain medications with alcohol.

There are a few drugs in particular that are especially risky when mixed with booze.

Some of major medications to watch out for are some of the most commonly prescribed ones, Neil MacKinnon, Ph.D., dean of the James L Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati, tells SELF. Those include antidepressants, opioids, blood-thinners, and benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that’s often used to treat anxiety and sleep issues, Dr. MacKinnon says.Here are just some examples of drugs you should avoid mixing with alcohol, and why that can be dangerous. Even more information can be found in this factsheet from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most common forms of antidepressants prescribed. When you mix them with alcohol, it can cause drowsiness, anxiety, and even worsening depression, Dr. Galligan says.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), another treatment for depression which includes tranylcypromine (Pamate) and phenelzine (Nardil), can cause serious heart-related side effects, including dangerously high blood pressure when MAOIs are mixed with tyramine, a byproduct found in beer and red wine, according to the NIAAA.

Benzodiazepines, which include drugs like diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan), are especially scary, because they can cause blackouts and/or amnesia with just a small amount of alcohol. The problem is that alcohol has a depressive effect on the central nervous system, and that’s exactly how those drugs work, Edwin Salsitz, M.D., an addiction medicine specialist at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, tells SELF. “You don’t want to combine two central nervous system depressants if you can avoid it,” he says. “You don’t know what the reaction could be.”

  • Allergy meds: Even over-the-counter medications can be iffy, Dr. Salsitz says. He specifically cites antihistamines like Benadryl as potentially problematic—they can cause you to feel sleepy, and alcohol will amplify the effect.
  • OTC pain medications: “One of the worst is acetaminophen,” says Dr. MacKinnon. If you have alcohol on a chronic basis and take acetaminophen regularly, it can cause “considerable liver damage” and even kill you, he says. Mixing aspirin or ibuprofen with alcohol can also increase the risk of bleeding in your stomach, Dr. McKinnon says.
  • Prescription pain medications: “Alcohol interaction with prescription painkillers—Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet are examples—is common,” Dr. Galligan says. That can cause drowsiness, dizziness, an increased risk for overdose, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor control, unusual behavior, and memory problems, per the NIAAA. Arthritis medications like naproxen (Naprosyn) and Celecoxib (Celebrex) can lead to ulcers, stomach bleeding, and liver damage when they’re mixed with alcohol.
  • Cough and cold medicines: Cold medicines seem innocent enough, but using alcohol when you’re on dextromethorpan (Delsym, Robitussin Cough) or guaifenesin + codeine (Robitussin A–C) can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and an increased risk for overdose, according to the NIAAA. Cold medications like brompheniramine (Dimetapp Cold & Allergy) and Chlorpheniramine (Sudafed Sinus & Allergy, Tylenol Allergy Sinus) can cause the same reaction if you take alcohol with them. And, keep this in mind: Cold medications can contain acetaminophen or ibuprofen as well.
  • Sleep aides: Commonly prescribed sleep aides like doxylamine (Unisom), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zolpidem (Ambien) can cause drowsiness, sleepiness, dizziness, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor control, unusual behavior, and memory problems when taken with alcohol, according to the NIAAA.
  • Antibiotics for an infection: When you’re on antibiotics like azithromycin and metronidazole, it’s best to take a pass on drinking. Otherwise, the NIAAA says you risk having a fast heartbeat, sudden changes in blood pressure, stomach pain, upset stomach, vomiting, headache, flushing or redness of the face, and even liver damage.
  • Medication for high cholesterol or high blood pressure: If taken with alcohol, high blood pressure medication can cause dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, and heart problems such as changes in the heart’s regular heartbeat, according to the NIAAA. High cholesterol medications can cause liver damage, increased flushing and itching, and increased stomachbleeding when mixed with alcohol.
  • Blood clot medication: Warfarin (Coumadin) is a commonly used drug to treat blood clotting problems, but even occasional drinking on it can lead to internal bleeding, according to the NIAAA. Heavier drinking could also cause bleeding or blood clots, strokes, or heart attacks.
  • Diabetes medication: Alcohol can work against common diabetes medications like chlorpropamide (Diabinese) and glipizide (Glucotrol), causing abnormally low blood sugar levels, nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat, and sudden changes in blood pressure, according to the NIAAA.This by no means an exhaustive list of the drugs you shouldn’t mix with alcohol, so be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any drug you’re taking, especially if you plan to keep drinking.

First, it’s super important that you’re honest with your doctor about your drinking habits and how you do—or don’t—plan to change them while taking a particular medication. “If your doctor knows that you’re going to be drinking or have a history of drinking, they might prescribe something different,” Dr. MacKinnon says.

Once you get a prescription, talk to the pharmacist before you leave the drug store. “Advice from the pharmacist is free—you should take advantage of it,” Dr. MacKinnon says. “A pharmacist will say, ‘this can happen’ or ‘this is unlikely to happen.’ It’s better to have this conversation than end up in the emergency room.”

In general, if you’re only having a small amount of alcohol, like a glass of wine, you’re probably not going to have a drug interaction (provided you’re not on benzodiazepines), David Cutler, M.D., a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF. The problem is that people often think that if they feel OK after having one drink, they can have two, and things go downhill from there. Also, just because you’re probably OK if you stick with one drink doesn’t mean you can’t have a bad reaction. “It’s not that you’ll never have one, it’s just unlikely,” Dr. Cutler says.

So, talk to your doctor and pharmacist, read the enclosed warning pamphlet with your medication, and make sure you actually follow the advice. Blacking out is scary and dangerous, but it might not be the only thing you’re at risk for when mixing medicine and alcohol.

Continue Reading: self/medicationsandalcohol

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