Many adults mix alcohol, medications: study

Bethesda, MD – More than 40 percent of adults could be risking their health by mixing alcohol and prescription medications, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health.

The study analyzed data from more than 26,000 adults 20 and older who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010, and asked participants about alcohol and prescription drug use. The most common types of medicines that interacted with alcohol included blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, pain medications, muscle relaxers, diabetes and cholesterol medications, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

Adults 65 and older were particularly vulnerable, with almost 78 percent of those who drink reporting that they also use medications known to interact with alcohol. Researchers said mixing meds with alcohol may cause side effects ranging from mild (nausea, headaches and loss of coordination) to severe (internal bleeding, heart problems and difficulty breathing).

The study was published in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.