Dangers of Mixing Alcohol with Certain Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Read on to learn more about the risks of mixing alcohol and drugs.

Overview

Prescription drugs and alcohol can be a deadly mix. Though many people may not realize it, when these two substances are combined, they can create serious health risks.

Mixing alcohol and drugs is a serious public health concern that can lead to harmful side effects. It’s essential to exercise extreme caution regarding alcohol mixed with prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and herbal remedies. 1
Mixing Alcohol and Drugs

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Understanding Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcohol is one of the most abused drugs in the United States. Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol puts people at a higher risk of developing polysubstance use disorders as well. 2

Also, The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reports that about thirty-two million people ages twelve and older abuse drugs illegally. If alcohol and tobacco are added back into the equation, approximately 60% of Americans ages twelve and older use drugs. 3

Why Is Mixing Prescription Drugs and Alcohol Dangerous?

Mixing alcohol and drugs can be harmful and lead to severe consequences including drowsiness, trouble concentrating, and serious injuries. These are all possible effects of mixing alcohol and drugs, and there can also be more long-lasting effects as well. Consuming alcohol while taking prescription drugs can intensify the drug’s existing side effects over time.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Side Effects

If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug and alcohol substance abuse, it’s essential to become familiar with possible side effects. The following sections will explore the short-term and long-term effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs and what to look out for.

Short-Term Effects

Short-term effects of mixing alcohol and drugs can include impaired judgment, altered emotions, and physical health repercussions. These physical health effects include impairments such as increased heart rate, insomnia, and irritability, which can all lead to increased tensions with friends and family as well.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs can be severe. Long-term effects include liver, heart, and central nervous system damage, along with memory loss. In addition to the physical dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs, there are also mental health effects that can impact you or a loved one for long after both alcohol and prescription drug use has stopped. 4

Drugs Commonly Mixed with Alcohol

Prescription drugs, including depressants, stimulants, and opiates, are commonly abused and mixed with alcohol despite the risks. The following sections will explore the most common types of drugs that people mix with alcohol.

Prescription Drugs

When prescription drugs, including depressants like Xanax or Valium, are mixed with alcohol, it can be very dangerous and can even result in death. Mixing alcohol and drugs can cause dizziness, stumbling, memory loss, and loss of sphincter control as well.

Opioids

Opiates such as Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin are especially dangerous when combined with alcohol. Mixing alcohol and drugs can cause breathing difficulties, unhealthy blood pressure levels, coma, unconsciousness, and death. While these are also prescription drugs, they tend to interact with alcohol differently than depressants do.

Stimulants

When an individual combines stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall with alcohol, the stimulant can hide the effects of alcohol. Therefore, the person won’t be able to measure their level of intoxication accurately and may easily overconsume. Significant bodily impairment, blackouts, loss of consciousness, and death can all be effects of mixing alcohol with stimulants.

Other Drugs

It’s critical to consult with a medical professional before consuming alcohol when taking prescribed or non-prescribed drugs. Cough, allergy, and cold medications can contain alcohol or react with alcohol. 5

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol with Certain Prescription Drugs

The specific dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs can vary based on the medication. Keep reading to learn about the various dangers of mixing alcohol and drugs.

Adderall and Alcohol

Alcohol and medication interactions are complex and drug specific. When it comes to stimulants like Adderall, mixing alcohol and drugs is highly dangerous. As previously mentioned, Adderall can mask the effects of alcohol and lead to dangerously high levels of intoxication as well.

Xanax and Alcohol

Xanax paired with alcohol has a synergistic effect. These combined substances can result in severe and possibly lethal consequences if one takes them in high enough doses or over a long enough period of time.

Benadryl and Alcohol

Polysubstance use, including Benadryl and alcohol combinations, can result in strong and unpredictable side effects. Antihistamines like Benadryl should not be combined with alcohol. 6

Lexapro and Alcohol

Mixing antidepressants with alcohol can lead to drowsiness, lack of coordination, and impaired decision-making. Mixing alcohol and drugs like Lexapro is not safe and should not be done in any setting. 7

Gabapentin and Alcohol

Gabapentin and alcohol interactions are complex and potentially dangerous. Studies have begun exploring Gabapentin to help with drug and alcohol detox in recent years, but mixing alcohol and drugs is never safe unless approved by a medical professional.

Zoloft and Alcohol

Zoloft and alcohol interactions can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, depression, liver damage, and potential overdose.

Suboxone and Alcohol

Mixing drugs like Suboxone and alcohol can lead to severe brain, heart, and organ damage. Do not combine Suboxone and alcohol without consulting a medical professional.

Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

If you or someone you care about is mixing drugs and alcohol, it’s essential to learn about alcohol and drug rehab options in order to find the help you may need. Continue reading to learn about detoxification, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and support groups.

Detoxification

In drug and alcohol treatment, detoxification provides a safe, medically supervised environment for individuals to establish sobriety. Detoxing alone from alcohol or drug use is never safe, as there can be many side effects from the detoxification process. Please do this under medical supervision, or with another person with you.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient or residential alcohol and drug rehab provides twenty-four-hour care, seven days a week. Individuals typically participate in counseling, group therapy, and recovery activities while receiving inpatient treatment.

Drug and alcohol counseling is provided individually and in group settings during outpatient treatment as well. Clients typically work on relapse prevention and client-driven treatment plans. Outpatient treatment is better for those who cannot afford inpatient treatment, or for those who need to work as well.

Support Groups

During and after drug and alcohol treatment, it is critical to establish a solid, sober support network. Many individuals become involved in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Aftercare

Following drug and alcohol treatment, it’s recommended to continue participating in activities that fuel recovery and sobriety. 8

Get Help at Concise Recovery

At Concise Recovery, a team of compassionate and skilled alcohol and drug counselors support every patient to help with their healing journey. Contact Concise Recovery today to learn more about our services and programs! We will be with you every step of the way.