Many drugs cannot mix with alcohol, and their interactions can be very harmful to people’s health.
In a new study, researchers found the dangerous interactions are higher in people over 40 years old.
They found adults who drink alcohol while using medications that interact with it are a higher risk of harm from an overdose, falls, and traffic accidents.
The research was conducted by a team from Washington University.
In the study, they focused on one group of medicines, known as central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
These drugs were involved in over 40% of alcohol-related adverse drug reactions between 2005 and 2011.
CNS depressants include the ‘sedative─hypnotic’ medications (anxiolytics and sleeping medications) and prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.
The researchers examined the changing prevalence of CNS depressant use among regular drinkers.
They used data from over 37,000 adults in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination survey between 1999 and 2014.
The results showed that in people who drank alcohol regularly (once a week or more), the proportion that used sedative─hypnotic drugs doubled to 6% between 1999 and 2014.
The increase was driven by a large rise in prescribed sleep drugs.
The prevalence of prescribed opioid use among regular drinkers remained relatively high at around 4%, despite the known risks.
Although regular drinkers were less likely than infrequent or non-drinkers to use anxiolytics or opioid medications, they were just as likely to use sleep drugs.
The research also found that people over 40 were up to five times as likely as those in their twenties to use sedative─hypnotic medications.
In addition, the rates of binge drinking are also increased in the over 40 age group in recent years.
The researchers conclude that people over 40, in particular, continue to face a high risk of alcohol/drug interactions and poor outcomes.
These adults need to be aware of the risks and change their alcohol drinking or medications to reduce the risk.
The study is published in Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research.
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