According to the Health Survey for England, almost 50 per cent of adults in the UK take prescription drugs on a regular basis, and so it is perhaps no surprise that fatal overdoses involving prescription medications are on the rise.

Medicines such as opiates (codeine), anti-depressants, stimulants and sedatives are widely prescribed by doctors for the treatment of common conditions such as arthritis, depression, and chronic pain, and as such, they are an integral part of the health care system in both the UK, and indeed worldwide. But many medical professionals believe that there is not enough support out there for those who take painkillers daily, and that many patients are not aware of the dangers involved.

The Benefits and Dangers of Prescription Drugs

Prescription meds can speed up the recovery process after an accident or injury, and they can improve the quality of life for those in constant pain, but they must be taken in moderation, and only as prescribed by a GP or a UK registered pharmacy.

As with all medicines, prescription drugs come with a long list of side-effects that you may or may not experience while taking them. Repeated use can lead to patients developing a tolerance to the drug, or even dependence (addiction), and so it is vital thatyou discuss your health history with your doctor and read the patient information leaflet before taking any new meds.

Prescription Drugs & Alcohol: A Lethal Cocktail

Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, and more recently Prince, are all believed to have died from a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol, but you don’t have to be rich and famous to fall into this deadly trap.

The toxic combination of painkillers and alcohol results in hundreds of deaths each year, and now that many strong pain relief medicines are available to purchase online from ‘black market’ pharmacies, the number of accidental overdoses continues to rise.

What You Need to Know…

In an ideal world, you should avoid alcohol completely while taking prescription medications. Mixing the two can be harmful, and may cause nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, loss of coordination, headaches, heart palpitations, and breathing problems.

Alcohol can stop some medications from working altogether, and it can increase the effects of others, risking severe side effects such as liver damage and even overdose, and so it is essential that you discuss your drinking habits with your GP.

There are many combinations that pose a risk to your health, but the following 5prescription medicines (or variants thereof) should never be mixed with alcohol:

  • Opiates: Painkillers such as Codeine, Morphine, and Vicodin

  • Anti-Depressants: Brand names include Prozac, Cipralex, Seroxat and Luvox

  • Stimulants: Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Dextrostat

  • Antibiotics:Tinidazole, Metronidazole, Penicillin and Amoxicillin

  • Statins: Lipitor,Lescor, Mevacor, and Crestor

How Alcohol Interferes with Medication

Alcohol affects how our brains work. A depressant, it numbs the senses much like many pain medicines, and so there can be a conflict between the two when taken together. Depending on the type of medication you are taking, alcohol could change the way your liver and brain responds to the drugs, so they no longer have the desired effect, and could put your health at risk.

If you are unsure whether it is safe to drink with your prescription drugs, speak to your pharmacists, and if you are still in doubt, avoid alcohol until you are medicine free.