Tis the season for egg nog and champagne and parties with adult beverages flowing. Have you ever considered how those drinks might either affect your medications or how your medications might impact how alcohol affects your body? Sometimes consuming alcohol can even affect the very condition that the medication was prescribed to treat. Certainly there are direct negative correlations between alcohol consumption and the use of opioid pain medication. Consider the following facts from livescience.com when deciding if to imbibe this holiday season:
- Drinking alcohol can lower blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours after the last drink. This can cause problems for diabetics who are taking blood sugar lowering medications such as metformin, glimiperide, and other sulfonylurea drugs. Excessive drinking can dangerously lower blood sugar levels or cause dizziness, nausea, or flushing.
- For people taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol, excessive drinking can contribute to liver damage. Statins already can cause liver damage and excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate this potentially serious problem. If you are taking a statin to reduce your cholesterol, remember to keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum!
- Alcohol and some antidepressants definitely don’t mix. New SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil are not as affected by alcohol as older MAOI antidepressants (isocarboxazid, phenelzine sulfate, tranylcypromine sulfate, selegiline) but care should still be taken when combining the two. Alcohol should be avoided altogether if you are taking an MAOI drug. The main contradiction between alcohol and antidepressants is that alcohol consumption can worsen the depression being treated.
- Most over the counter pain medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen are safe to combine with moderate alcohol consumption, but may cause gastric problems if both are consumed for long periods in high doses. Alcohol should be completely avoided if you are taking an opioid medication such as OxyContin or Vicodin. Both alcohol and opioid narcotics depress the central nervous system. This combination causes greatly increased sedation, a slowing down of breathing, low blood pressure, and impairment of judgment and motor skills. Combining opioids and alcohol can in fact be deadly.
If you are taking any medications prescribed by Dr. Rubin or another physician, be sure to check with your doctor before enjoying an alcoholic drink this holiday season and throughout the year.