Friday, February 13, 2015

Study Shows High Rates for Drinkers Taking Prescription Drugs that Interactive Negatively with Alcohol

The combination of alcohol and certain prescription medications has the potential to lead to adverse health effects, yet little is known about the prevalence of alcohol-interactive (AI) prescription medications among drinkers, according the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). To shed some light on such rates, researchers from the NIAAA analyzed data of more than 26,000 adults, age 20 and older, on past year engagements with alcohol and past month prescription drug use.

The results, published in this month’s issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, showed that 42 percent of current drinkers reported using medication that were classified as AI prescription drugs. Among current drinkers aged 65 and older, the total prevalence of AI medication use was nearly 80 percent. Collectively, study participants reported use of almost 600 prescriptions drugs known to interact negatively with alcohol. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and antihypertensive medications, were among the most commonly reported.

“Our findings show that a substantial percentage of people who drink regularly, particularly older adults, could be at risk of harmful alcohol and medication interactions,” said lead author Rosalind A. Breslow, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., an epidemiologist in the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research. “We suggest that people talk to their doctor or pharmacist about whether they should avoid alcohol while taking their prescribed medications.”

Though the study did not confirm whether drinking and medication use overlapped based on the available data, the researchers noted that the study highlights the potential scale of concurrent use of alcohol and AI prescription medicines. “Given the adverse health risks of combining alcohol with AI prescription medications, future efforts are needed to collect data to determine actual simultaneous prevalence,” the researchers concluded.

To read about the combined use of alcohol and other substances, see Psychiatric News article, "Benzodiazepines Combined With Other Substances Increase Risks."

(Image: serenarossi/


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