A Dangerous Combination

A couple of years ago our nephew died as a result of taking prescription medication for his condition with alcohol. I hope the article below will help someone avoid that kind of mistake and save their family terrible pain.

Here it is….
More than a third of Americans who drink use prescription medications that could lead to serious health consequences if mixed with alcohol, a recent study said (this is not limited to the U.S.A. alone).
The numbers are even higher for seniors — nearly 78 percent of U.S. adults ages 65 and older who drink use medications, that could be dangerous when taken with alcohol, according to a study published online…in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Until this study, there had been little research that included a national sample of Americans using a wide range of alcohol-interactive prescription medications, said lead study author Rosalind Breslow, PhD, MPH, RD, an epidemiologist in the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. When alcohol combines with an alcohol-interactive prescription medication, it affects how the drug breaks down in the body and could result in risks to health, such as liver damage.
“We did the study because the combination of alcohol and many prescription medications can result in harmful side effects like falls, traffic accidents and overdoses and in some cases literally can be deadly,” Breslow told The Nation’s Health. “So because of the harms, we thought it was important to estimate how many people in the U.S. population were at risk of side effects due to interactions between alcohol and prescription medications.”
The study looked at more than 26,000 adults between 1999 and 2010 who were age 20 or older. Researchers asked participants about their prescription drug use and drinking habits. The majority of the participants were white and current drinkers, which means they drank 12 or more drinks in their lifetime and on at least one day in the past year, according to the study.
The more commonly used prescriptions among participants were drugs affecting cardiovascular health or the central nervous system, the study said. Examples of drugs that affect cardiovascular health included blood thinners and blood pressure medications. Drugs that affected the central nervous system included narcotic pain medications, such as oxycodone, and anti-anxiety medications, such as Valium. However, the study did not look at whether or how often alcohol and prescription drugs were used at the same time or at a time when an interaction would be expected, Breslow said.
Breslow said it is important for doctors to educate seniors in particular about the health risks associated with combining prescription medication and alcohol. She also noted that more research is needed on the combined use of medications and alcohol.
“Our study showed the potential scope of the problem but we didn’t have the data to estimate actual prevalence,” Breslow said. “The way to get these data is to include it in population survey questions about combined usage.”
Article by Natali McGill. Courtesy of The Nation’s Health: http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/content/45/2/E7.full

When Once Is More than Enough!

A new study finds that when young people binge drink alcohol, it disrupts their immune system, and that disruption happens more quickly than drinkers might think.

Published in December in the journal, Alcohol, the study found that within just two hours of young, healthy adults drinking up to five shots of vodka, their immune systems were less active than when sober. The findings are particularly relevant as binge drinking increases the risk of a number of injuries that might land young people in the emergency room, where physicians could benefit from knowing that a patient’s immune system may be impaired due to too much alcohol. Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor within the Loyola University Chicago Departments of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, said the findings illustrate the importance of asking about a patient’s alcohol consumption. He added that some patients are likely arriving at trauma centers with alcohol-related injuries at a time when their healing capacity is weakened.

“This supports the idea that physicians should be aware of these patients and be more aggressive in how they treat them,” Afshar said.

To conduct the study, researchers recruited eight women and seven men, with an average age of 27, who each drank enough vodka shots to meet the definition of binge drinking, which was defined as reaching or exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit for driving. Study participants’ blood was collected and tested before drinking as well as 20 minutes, two hours and five hours after peak intoxication. The study found that 20 minutes after peak intoxication, participants’ immune systems exhibited increased activity; however, at the two- and five-hour marks, their immune systems exhibited decreased activity. The study found that such effects happen after just one episode of binge drinking.

“The clinical impacts of these changes are not yet known but occurred during the post-alcohol ingestion time frame when trauma victims are exposed to (internal) activators of inflammation and microbial pathogens,” the study concluded.

Afshar said that while he and his colleagues expected some type of immune system disruption, they were surprised that it occurred so quickly. From a public health perspective, he said the study’s findings are another reason to support alcohol-related education and prevention efforts.

“The idea that one single episode of binge drinking can cause such a significant disruption — it’s something we can take to the public and show them that there are harms even for those who don’t consider themselves problem drinkers,” Afshar told The Nation’s Health. “We need to do a better job on educating the public about the harmful effects of heavy drinking in people who otherwise consider themselves healthy.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month and consumes about eight drinks per episode. Binge drinking is more common among adults ages 18 to 34, with more than half of the alcohol consumed in the U.S. drunk in the form of binge drinking.

Study: One episode of binge drinking enough to weaken immune system. The Nation’s Health. http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/content/45/1/E3.full