Alcohol and Medicine: A Dangerous Mix

I am concerned to note that over 50% of older people in Ireland who are on prescription medication regularly consume alcohol, according to a new study from the RCSI. The survey also found that one in five people taking anti-depressants reported drinking heavily.

The figures were also high for people taking anti-epileptics or antipsychotic drugs, which more than one in ten people drinking large amounts of alcohol and, in both these cases, alcohol is strictly forbidden by doctors. It’s clear that an information campaign is needed around this, as people are putting themselves in harm’s way by not taking the threat posed by taking alcohol while on prescription medication seriously.

The study found that 60% of people over 60 drank during the course of their prescription. As we know, alcohol can interact harmfully with some prescription medications and cause negative side-effects. This is particularly felt in older people as a consequence of their slower metabolism and how medicine and alcohol interacts in their system. The study says that mixing alcohol with some prescription medicines can alter the metabolism of the drugs, lead to liver toxicity, sedation, gastrointestinal inflammation, and interfere with the effectiveness of the medication. I would propose that we consider bringing about an information campaign on this issue in order to highlight the dangers.

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