An effect not expected. Interaction of drugs and alcohol

It is believed that alcohol should not be consumed during the period of medication including But what is the reason for the ban, many know only in general: there may be unwanted side effects. This argument, as practice shows, does not always work. There are diseases for which medications must be taken for life (arterial hypertension, for example). Why never drink now?

woman hold whiskey and cigarette in hands and drugs on table

We asked the head physician of the Minsk City Clinical Narcological Dispensary, the chief freelance specialist in narcology of the Health Committee of the Minsk City Executive Committee, Alexander Alishevich, what is known (and unknown) about the interaction of alcohol with drugs, what side effects such a “cocktail” is fraught with. And at the same time we learned why the disregard for the conditional prohibition of drinking alcohol simultaneously with taking medications is fraught with consequences not only for the patient, but also for the doctor.

The effect of alcohol on the action of drugs

The most discussed class of substances in the population is antibiotics (antimicrobial drugs). They are most often mentioned when it comes to the need to abstain from drinking alcohol.

Alexander Alishevich says that at a regular appointment, the doctor is unlikely to explain to the patient:

– Antibiotics bind to blood proteins to reach the site of inflammation. The dose that will act directly on the bacterial flora depends on the “quality” of binding of the active substance to proteins. So, alcohol, being in the blood, will affect the connection and transportation of the drug. Accordingly, not the calculated amount of the active substance, which should be, will reach the focus of inflammation. Therefore, neither the doctor nor the patient, no one at all can say for sure how an antibiotic will work.

It is possible, for example, that the effect on the bacterial flora, distorted under the influence of alcohol, will lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. This, in turn, will delay the healing process, significantly increase the body’s costs for recovery, and negatively affect the work of various organs and systems.

Or here’s another example – with arterial hypertension. According to the results of the STEPS study, in Belarus, almost 45% of the population aged 18 to 69 have problems with blood pressure, while every second patient may not be aware of the threat. At the same time, arterial hypertension is a controllable disease with a good prognosis for the quality and duration of life, provided that the medication is taken continuously. Agree, it’s hard to believe that half of the country’s adult population does not drink at all, never at all. Meanwhile, alcohol, getting into the body, modifies blood pressure: more often it increases, less often it lowers it. At the same time, it affects the effect of drugs if the patient takes them to normalize blood pressure. This situation can be compared to the game of “Russian roulette”: it will shoot accurately, but when it is not known.

Another terrible combination is alcohol and psychotropic drugs, which are used in various fields of medicine (psychiatry, narcology, oncology, surgery, anesthesiology, hematology, etc.). In outpatient practice, psychotropic drugs are most commonly used to treat depressive and anxiety disorders. The use of alcohol unambiguously enhances (in some cases many times) the effect of tranquilizers, muscle relaxants and other psychoactive drugs. Ethanol has a depressing effect on the respiratory center in the brain. Ignoring this fact can lead to irreversible consequences – the death of a person.

– In fact, there is practically no class of drugs that would completely ignore the presence of alcohol in the body. At least, I cannot name a single drug that would not interact with alcohol in one way or another, – says Alexander Alishevich. – Are we talking about any dose? Research into how much alcohol you can drink without having a significant impact on your medications is difficult primarily for ethical reasons. De facto, it is stated that alcohol modifies the processes of binding, transportation, and action of drugs. And what will ultimately lead to the simultaneous use of drugs and alcohol, no one can predict with absolute accuracy.

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