B. Mixing beverage alcohol with other drugs can have unpleasant and sometimes fatal effects.
1. Reactions vary from minor drowsiness when mixing a cocktail with an antihistamine to loss of consciousness and/or death when mixed with certain barbiturates, tranquilizers, and prescription pain killers.
2. Potentiation effect is defined as the joint effect of two drugs taken together being greater than the sum of the effects of the two drugs alone. (example: mix alcohol, a central nervous system depressant with another CNS depressant and the pharmacological effect is multiplied or exaggerated).
3. Modern Health terms this as the multiplier effect and lists same drugs and the reaction that they may produce when combined with alcohol.
C. Ways to avoid unpleasant alcohol-drug reactions include:
1. abstinence from alcohol
2. being honest with your physician when discussing the amount of alcohol you drink. (This is important when determining how much of a drug you should take or if you should take the drug.)
3. reporting any changes in drinking patterns to your doctor especially if you are on medication for a long period of time. (People who are chronic alcohol users, whose drug dosages have been adjusted to the metabolic state of their liver, could upset the balance by giving up the use of alcohol without having their dosage adjusted accordingly.)
4. asking your physician about possible alcohol interactions with the drugs prescribed for you.
5. checking your prescription drug container for any warnings the pharmacist has attached.
6. reading the labels on over-the-counter drug products in order to know what is in the product and what side effects you might experience.
7. checking with your pharmacist if you have any questions about either prescription or over the counter drugs.
8. refraining from drinking while on medication if there is any doubt about the possibility of an undesirable alcohol-drug reaction.