Alcohol and certain drugs work in the same areas of the brain that their effects are intensified. Alcohol may interfere with the working of the drug, making a normal dosage ineffective in fighting a disease. Some alcohol-drug combination produces unpleasant and dangerous side effects. Past drinking habits, the amount of alcohol consumed, chronic ailment and the age and weight of the person can alter these effects.
The Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board lists what may happen when certain drugs are taken with alcohol:
+ TRANQUILIZERS(like Valium, Librium, etc.) – Decreased alertness and poor judgement that can lead to household and car accidents and death.
+ MAJOR TRANQUILIZERS(like Chlorpromazine - Thorazine) – Dangerously low blood pressure level. Reduced blood pressure that causes dizziness on standing.
+ OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN KILLERS(Non-narcotic analgesic like aspirin, arthritic pain formula, etc.) – Possible irritation and bleeding in the stomach and intestines. May cause liver damage.
+ PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS - Reduced central nervous system functioning than can lead to poor breathing and even death.
+ CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM STIMULANTS(Most diet pills, Dexedrine, caffeine, coffee cenzadrine, etc.) – A false sense of alertness caused by the stimulants but which does not help an intoxicated person gain control of his movement.
+ SLEEP MEDICINE – Increased potency of drugs which depresses the central nervous system; coma or breathing failure; drowsiness and loss of alertness, making driving and operation of machinery hazardous.
+ PRESCRIPTION SLEEP AIDS – Severe impairment of voluntary movements such as walking and use of hands. Can cause liver damage, respiratory failure and death.
+ ANTIHISTAMINES(Most cough and cold remedies, etc. Also used to treat allergies and motion sickness) – Nausea and vomiting for some drugs (especially those for urinary tract infections) while other drugs become less effective.
+ ANTIBIOTICS (Anti-infective agents like Flagyl, Erythromycine, Choromycetin, Tetracycline) – Increased ability of drugs to stop clotting which can lead to life-threatening bleeding. For chronic drinkers, the drug can be less effective.
+ HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATIONS – Lessened ability of drug to stop convulsions. May increase blood disorder side effects.
+ TIME-RELEASE CAPSULES AND COATED PILLS – Immediate dissolution of the coating of drugs so that the full dose’s effect is felt immediately instead of properly delayed.
+ DIURETICS, ANTICOAGULANTS, ANTIDEPRESSANTS, ANTICONVULSANTS and ANTIDIABETIC / HYPOGLYCEMIC – Severe and unpredictable reactions. Patients taking these medications should avoid alcohol.