Young people with an alcohol use disorder are much more likely to also have a prescription drug problem.
(PRWEB) April 11, 2012
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and it was first started by the NCADD in 1987 to create awareness about the use of alcohol and the serious consequences associated with its misuse. One of the many problems linked with the misuse of alcohol is the increased likelihood of a person abusing prescription drugs. In fact, both men and women with alcohol abuse disorders are 18 times more likely to also have a problem with prescription drug abuse than people who don’t drink at all.
This astounding fact was found after two studies were completed at the University of Michigan with over 43,000 different adult participants. Young people aged 18-24 were the most likely group to have problems with both alcohol and nonmedical use of prescription drugs. There are a range of very serious side effects that can be experienced by those using alcohol and prescription drugs at the same time. The results are sometimes even fatal.
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The most prevalent prescription drugs to be abused by people who are also abusing alcohol include prescription opiates like Oxycontin, prescription stimulants like Ritalin, prescription sedatives and anxiety medications like Valium and prescription sleeping medications such as Ambien. It is strongly advised not to use alcohol of any amount with any of these types of medications.
The serious possible side effects of combining these medications with alcohol include respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, alcohol poisoning and even death. Additionally, there is a much higher risk of people using both prescription drugs and alcohol to engage in a number of risky behaviors including unprotected or unplanned sex, blackouts and driving under the influence. These sorts of risky behaviors put more than the abuser’s life in jeopardy. Anyone near the abuser can also have their lives adversely affected or even taken if they are injured in an accident.
Researchers also state that nonmedical use of prescription drugs is more likely when people start drinking earlier and drink more. This means that parents and adults involved in young people’s lives have even more reason to do everything they can to prevent the early use of alcohol, especially in large amounts.
Many users mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are “safe” because their manufacture has been regulated by the government and the FDA. They also may mistakenly believe that since doctors prescribe these medications, whether to them or someone else, they are safe. However, prescriptions are only meant to be used in the exact medical way described by doctors. Any variations on dosage, delivery methods or the person using it mean that the drug is no longer safe for use. This is especially true when prescriptions and alcohol are mixed.
Additionally, the combination of prescriptions and alcohol can over-ride a body’s natural defense to over consumption of alcohol leading to even further danger. When a body detects a potentially dangerous blood alcohol level, its natural response is to pass out. Using prescription drugs with stimulants means that this defense mechanism can be avoided. The consequences of this can be fatal.
Parents, teachers and clinicians all need to be well informed of the increased risks of young people drinking and abusing prescription drugs. Youth need to be well aware that prescription drugs are only safe when used as prescribed and under the care of a physician. It’s important to follow directions on all medications, especially in regards to alcohol use and prescription drugs being used at the same time. Ignoring the warnings of using both alcohol and medications can have deadly consequences.