Millions Risk Alcohol-Medication Interactions
Almost three-quarters of American adults drink alcoholic beverages. Sooner or later, many of them will also take a prescribed medication. The fine print that comes with some meds tells patients to forego booze while taking the drugs—because alcohol-medicine interactions can change a drug’s effectiveness, or cause other health issues.
Researchers have long wondered how much drinking goes on by people on such drugs, despite the warnings.
Now a study suggests that almost 42 percent of U.S. drinkers have at some point been in possession of one or more alcohol-interactive drugs. The data do not guarantee that patients drank while on the drugs. But the research team notes that the numbers highlight the need for physicians to clearly discuss the potential risks of combining alcohol with certain meds, including ones commonly prescribed, for example, for depression, diabetes or high blood pressure.
The findings are in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and are based on info from more than 26,000 adults collected by the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. [Rosalind A. Breslow, Chuanhui Dong and Aaron White, Prevalence of Alcohol-Interactive Prescription Medication Use Among Current Drinkers: United States, 1999 to 2010]
Elderly patients typically use more prescription drugs than younger people. And the study found that almost 78 percent of elderly drinkers have the potential to be drinking while taking drugs that warn against it.
We know not to drink and drive. When it comes to some meds, don’t drink and dose.
—Dina Fine Maron