Alcohol and Prescription Drugs

Mixing alcohol with prescription drugs can be a recipe for disaster.

You should never drink while taking a prescription medication without first checking with your doctor or pharmacist.

There are many combinations, such as alcohol and Vicodin, that can increase side effects, cause other side effects, or even create a fatal combination of symptoms.

If you aren’t sure whether your drug is safe to combine with alcohol, simply avoid drinking. And if you or someone you know is mixing alcohol and prescription drugs for recreational purposes, it’s time to get help.

Alcohol and Narcotic Painkillers

Narcotic painkillers are very serious prescription drugs. They bring relief to many people with serious or chronic pain, but they are also highly addictive. Some people abuse these medications to get high and may even add alcohol to the mix. The combination can cause serious problems. For instance, mixing Vicodin and alcohol can intensify the dangerous side effects of this medication. These include dizziness and drowsiness, poor coordination leading to accidents, a slow heart rate, shallow breathing, loss of consciousness and even a fatal overdose.

Not all prescription drugs include just one ingredient. Some are combinations of medications and it may be one of the minor ingredients that interacts with alcohol. The combination of Norco and alcohol, for example, is dangerous for two reasons. The drug contains a narcotic, hydrocodone, but also acetaminophen. Alcohol and acetaminophen when used together can cause serious damage to your liver. You should never drink if you take acetaminophen regularly.

Alcohol and ADHD Medications

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, affects many young people. Medications for the disorder can be useful in helping people pay attention, focus and act less impulsively and more calmly. These drugs are stimulants. This means they act on the central nervous system and increase metabolism. Many students abuse ADHD medications in order to study more effectively. The drugs help them stay awake and focus, but the habit is a dangerous one, especially when combined with alcohol.

For instance, Adderall and alcohol in combination can cause intensification in the stimulant effects of the drugs and the impact of the alcohol. While one drink might produce a slight buzz in someone, if that person is taking Adderall or another stimulant medication, one drink could lead to total inebriation. Stimulants can also make you unaware of how drunk you are. You may end up drinking more than you realized which could cause any number of problems including alcohol poisoning.

The bottom line is that combining drinking and prescription drugs is a risky behavior. Unless you know for certain that your medication is safe with alcohol, you should avoid drinking. And if you are abusing both your prescription and alcohol you need to recognize that you have a problem and get help. If you see these behaviors in someone you care about, reach out to help.

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