Mixing alcohol and drugs is never a good idea. Whether they are over-the-counter prescription meds or illegal drugs, taking them with booze can have fatal consequences.
There’s a reason why prescription medication packages are marked with a “DO NOT MIX WITH ALCOHOL” label—it’s dangerous. Mixing medicine and alcohol can have all kinds of negative side effects.
Unfortunately, many people overlook this. Maybe they’re having too much fun at a party and decide to pop a few pills while they’re already drunk. Maybe they take prescription medication and forget that they can’t drink booze. Or, maybe they struggle with alcoholism and are just seeking a stronger high.
Whatever the case, it’s important for everyone to know how dangerous it is. After all, when you combine alcohol with some drugs, the results can be deadly.
We’ve compiled a list of drugs you should never mix with alcohol in hopes that it could prevent readers from life-threatening effects.
But First…Why is Drinking with Other Drugs so Bad?
Alcohol affects the brain in very complex ways. For example, it increases the production of a brain chemical called GABA. Usually, GABA slows the brain down to help humans make smart, rational decisions.
Of course, “smart” and “rational” are not usually associated with getting drunk. This effect is due to the fact that, when the brain has too much GABA in it, it functions extra slowly. That’s why drunk people aren’t always able to move or speak very well.
The amount of GABA in the brain is directly linked to other organs. So, as the brain slows down, the heart and lungs slow down, too. Alcohol can’t stop the heart or lungs completely, but other drugs can. When it’s mixed with these other drugs, booze can exacerbate their effects, eventually leading to an overdose.
This is just one example of what can happen. Some less severe, but still unpleasant, side effects are described below.
What is it that causes alcohol to mix poorly with most medications? How can you avoid these negative interactions? What do you do when you notice a bad reaction to a medication?
Read on to find out more about the result of mixing alcohol with various medications and what you should do if you or a loved one suffers negative consequences from a dangerous combination.
1. General Pain Relief Medication
Nearly everyone has a bottle of pain medication in their home, so we’ll start there. Nyquil, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Aleve, and other meds should not be mixed with booze. Some might think that the mixture is safe enough, but the results can be dangerous.
Of course, mixing Nyquil and alcohol won’t kill anyone. But it can still have some negative consequences over time. Side effects range depending on the exact drug. However, some common ones include:
- Stomach bleeding
- Liver damage
- Rapid heartbeat
In other words, the user may not overdose. But, the long-term effects can take a toll on the body.
The Liver Doesn’t Respond Kindly to Drug Cocktails
Drugs and alcohol put the liver under a lot of stress. It’s the liver, after all, that’s responsible for processing all of these substances.
See, the human body recognizes drugs as poison. So, when someone ingests them, it works extremely hard to process and expel them. Basically, it wants them out as fast as possible.
That’s why long-term alcoholics usually have liver problems at some point in their life. But, Nyquil and Excedrin are drugs, too. The body isn’t exactly built to handle medication like that. Like liquor, it also puts the liver to work. Therefore, if someone mixes these two drugs on a regular basis, they may have some liver damage in the future.
It can take years for the liver to repair itself, so avoid this mixture whenever possible.
2. Opioid Painkillers
Opioids are deadly on their own. Drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin, Demerol, and Fentanyl kill thousands of people each year.
But, many people forget just how dangerous these drugs are. If they’re prescribed, it’s easy to see them as another over-the-counter medication. This is not the case. Those who use these drugs for medicinal reasons are strongly advised against drinking
Results may include:
- Severe drowsiness
- Extreme dizziness
- High risk of overdose
- Breathing difficulty
- Impacted motor functions
- Memory problems
- Liver damage
Painkillers are able to help some folks cope with chronic pain. However, there’s no excuse for mixing alcohol and painkillers.
The Signs and Symptoms of an Overdose
If someone has mixed booze with painkillers, they should be closely monitored. Those around them should look for the following symptoms:
- Confusion or deliriousness
- Slowed or irregular breathing
- Bluish lips
- Cold skin
These are all signs of an overdose. If left untreated, the individual may face brain damage, prolonged heart and lung problems or death. It’s crucial that they are taken to a hospital as fast as possible in order to prevent a tragedy.