Potential dangers when mixing alcohol, drugs

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Thursday, December 22, 2016
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Though common for many, mixing alcohol and medication may increase potency and cause in serious side effects.

Drinking alcohol while taking medication is common for many, however, frequently used drugs may cause serious side effects.

"Taking medication while drinking can actually increase their effect or cause potentially harmful side effects," Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs campaign editor Lisa Gill said.

For example, taking anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium or Ativan with alcohol can cause dizziness, drowsiness or very slow breathing, and increases the risk of an overdose.

Similar side effects are seen with opioids like Vicodin, Percocet and Demerol.

Mixing alcohol and antibiotics such as azithromycin can cause nausea and vomiting, while mixing with doxycycline may reduce its ability to fight infection.

Many over-the-counter drugs can also negatively interact with alcohol.

"Some antihistamines like Dimetapp, Zyrtec or Benadryl Allergy can cause increased drowsiness. Even common pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol can be dangerous when taken with too many drinks," Gill said.

Health risks may also increase when people take more than one medication.

Blood pressure medicines can cause various heart problems when taken with alcohol. Taking the blood thinner Coumadin and having more than three drinks could increase the risk of a stroke.

When taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs, experts advise to consult with a doctor or a pharmacist before drinking.

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