Alcohol and drugs: why it can be a dangerous mix

Alcohol and drugs: why it can be a dangerous mix

In general, it is a good idea to never consume alcohol with any drug. But here are the main interactions

The way alcoholic beverages are consumed can have important health consequences. In particular, avoiding any alcoholic beverages during drug therapy is a good rule that we should always respect.

But why can this mix be dangerous? And what are the main interactions between alcohol and drugs? To clarify are the experts who have developed the Guidelines for healthy eating (revision 2018).

Many drugs – the document reads – are metabolized in the liver by the same enzymes that metabolize alcohol. This involves a double risk: taking alcohol with these drugs slows down the disposal of both the alcohol and the drug, resulting in overdose. If, on the other hand, a habitual drinker consumes the drug away from alcohol intake, he will run the risk of accelerated elimination of the active ingredient because chronic alcohol intake will have caused the enzymatic systems to act more quickly.

Beware of the effects

The recommendation, therefore, is to pay the utmost attention both to avoid side effects or adverse effects, sometimes even serious, and to ensure that the therapies carried out maintain their effectiveness (avoiding the reduction or strengthening of the effects of the active ingredients). It is no coincidence that in many package leaflets present in the drug packs there is a warning of these possible interferences, or the explicit indication to stop drinking alcohol during drug therapy.

Which are the most common

As can be read in the table drawn up by the Crea experts, the main interactions between alcohol and drugs occur in these cases:

  • Sedatives, hypnotics, antidepressants, anxiolytics, analgesics, barbiturates, antipsychotics, antihistamines. The ethanol contained in alcoholic beverages could strengthen the sedative effect of these drugs by generating drowsiness, poor alertness and loss of lucidity that could lead to respiratory crises.
  • Also be careful when taking oral contraceptives and antibiotics such as tetracyclines, quinolones etc. In this case, alcohol could decrease activity and / or concentration in the blood, making the drug ineffective. Ethanol, with anticoagulant drugs, in addition to these effects could cause a serious risk of bleeding if alcohol intake is not stopped.
  • Some antidiabetics are also enhanced by the simultaneous intake of alcohol, which can lead to hypoglycemic crises with impaired mental clarity.
  • Other commonly used drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can have toxic or harmful effects as they can interact with the metabolism of alcohol, causing redness of the skin, nausea, vomiting, palpitations and lowering of pressure.

It is therefore good to always ask the pharmacist or doctor if the drug we are taking is compatible with alcohol consumption and always read the package leaflet.

Category: Welfare
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