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Mixing Alcohol and Medications Can Prove to be a Deadly Combination

(Newark, NJ) – Thousands of people are planning to bring in the New Year (2013) at some type of social gathering, whether it’s at home with friends and family or “out on the town”.  During this time of celebration, alcohol consumption significantly increases, putting many in danger of possible injury and even death.  We as a society have been bombarded with safety messages about the dangers of drinking and driving, but are Americans aware of the dangers of mixing alcohol and medications? The danger is REAL and the consequences serious.   

Medications are safe and effective when used according to the directions on the label.  It is never recommended to take any medication while consuming alcohol.  Mixing the two together, whether the medications are prescription, over-the-counter, dietary, or herbal, could prove to be a costly mistake.  Alcohol can cause harmful side effects, produce an additive effect, or intensify a medication’s effect increasing the risk of side effects making it toxic to the body, 

Be mindful that many medications contain more than one ingredient, some even contain alcohol.  Each ingredient in a particular medication can interact differently with alcohol.  Alcohol-medication interactions can still occur even if they are not taken at the same time.  The NJ Poison Experts recommend always reading the label of any medication before taking it to find out what ingredients it contains and avoid drinking alcohol if you are taking a medication and don’t know how it will react with alcohol. 

“When you mix alcohol and medicines together, you are potentially putting yourself at risk for a dangerous reaction,” says Dr. Bruce Ruck, Director of Drug Information and Professional Education at NJPIES.  Nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, or loss of coordination are just some of the side effects from this dangerous combination. You can also be putting yourself at risk for internal bleeding, heart problems, liver problems and difficulties in breathing.

If you are planning on consuming alcohol and are currently taking a medication, either prescription, over-the-counter, dietary, or herbal, please contact your local pharmacist or the NJ Poison Experts at 1-800-222-1222 to find out how alcohol might interact with the medications you are taking.  If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing/convulsing, bleeding profusely, difficult to arouse/wake up, etc. call 911 immediately, otherwise call the poison center at (800-222-1222).  Doing online research and learning about medical conditions is a new sign of the times and a must-do for a savvy patient. But savvy patients need to know when it’s important to put down the smartphone and dial an emergency number to get help. They NJ Poison Experts are always here to help with accidents or questions involving medicines, chemicals or household products, etc.  Help is available in over 150 languages; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.  Program the Poison Help line (800-222-1222) into your cell phone and post it near your home and office phones too.  There are no silly questions and our trained medical staff are always available to answer a question, quell a fear, provide advice, or intervene to get emergency services on site and prepped to provide the needed protocol in the fastest response time. When in doubt, check it out - Prevention is truly the best possible medicine. Remember, Help is Just a Phone Call Away!

Real People. Real Answers.

Call to Action – Help is Just a Phone Call Away

NJPIES leaders urge medical professionals, parents, educators, caregivers and the general public to call the toll-free poison center hot line, 800-222-1222, with any poison related question as well as for non-emergency questions regarding medications, household products, plants, environmental contaminants, or other poisons.  The hotline is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You may also chat or text in using our website, www.njpies.org.  Real People. Real Answers.

The NJ poison experts recommend putting the number in all family cell phones as well as programming it as a speed dial number on landlines (home and office).  In addition, prominently post the number near all phones in the home and office.

Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/njpies) and Twitter (@NJPoisonCenter) for breaking news, safety tips, trivia questions, etc. Be poison smart - share poison prevention tips with your family (including children), friends, and coworkers.

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