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Drinking risks – avoid mixing alcohol with drugs

If you drink alcohol and take prescribed, or some over-the-counter, medication at the same time, you could experience a whole host of negative and even dangerous consequences. This is the case for a number of reasons:

  1. The alcohol you’ve consumed could weaken the medication’s potency and therefore its efficacy, meaning the treatment’s desired effect could be hampered or even non-existent
  2. Alcohol entering your bloodstream will slow your reflexes and dull your senses, increasing the chances of you injuring yourself or being involved in an accident. If you have already taken medication for an existing condition prior to having an accident, this may make treating your injuries difficult, as some drugs can conflict with others, causing vomiting, increased blood pressure and other worrying reactions
  3. The alcohol in your system will slow down liver function, decelerating the speed at which your medication is absorbed by your body. This can fool you into thinking you may have actually forgotten to take your required dose that day/night, causing you to then ‘double dose’, which you should never do

Alcohol and antibiotics

Chloe* made the mistake of drinking a single glass of white wine while taking antibiotics last summer: “It was during the heatwave, and everyone was drinking alfresco or in beer gardens. I completely forgot that I was on antibiotics at the time, and drank a glass of wine. I almost immediately regretted it as it wasn’t long before I felt nauseous.

“Later, I experienced shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate and flushing of the skin: all typical symptoms of mistakenly mixing metronidazole with alcohol, apparently. Never again!”

Alcohol and statins

Worried about cholesterol? Changing your diet isn’t enough; not if you like a drink. Your cholesterol and triglyceride levels will markedly increase if you frequently drink a lot of alcohol. Then you’ll be faced with another problem: pills called statins, which are used to lower cholesterol, could cause damage to your liver over time.

Always check first

Enjoying an alcoholic drink can seem irresistible, but if you’re on any kind of medication, think twice before. Read the leaflet tucked inside your medication’s box (and the label stuck on its side) and check to see if alcohol is best avoided, given the type of tablets or liquid-form treatment you are taking. Otherwise, your health problems could become a whole lot worse.

 *All names have been changed.

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