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Health Team

Mixing medications, alcohol can be fatal, experts say

Posted February 1

Mixing alcohol and drugs together can be fatal

Some people don't think about the connection between their daily medications and the risks of mixing them with alcohol. Whether it's one glass of wine or a mimosa, the results can be dangerous.

Some commonly used drugs, when taken with alcohol can make alcohol more potent. The mix can increase the effect of the drug or even cause potentially harmful side effects.

Anti-anxiety drugs, such as Valium or Ativan, can cause dizziness, drowsiness or very slow breathing when taken with alcohol. The combination can also increase the risk of an overdose—the same goes for opioids, such as Vicodin, Percocet and Demerol.

Mixing alcohol and antibiotics such as azithromycin can cause nausea and vomiting, and when alcohol is taken with doxycycline, it can even reduce its ability to fight infection.

Even many over-the-counter drugs interact with alcohol:

"Common antihistamines mixed with alcohol can cause increased drowsiness," said Consumer Reports' Lisa Gill. "Even common pain relievers, like Advil and Tylenol, are dangerous when taken with too many drinks."

Blood pressure medicines can cause various heart problems, too. If you're on the blood thinner Coumadin, having more than three drinks could increase the risk of a stroke.

The more medications a person takes, the higher the health risks.

Be sure to ask your doctor about the effects of mixing alcohol with any drugs you take whether they're prescription or over-the-counter.

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