Opioids Mixed With Alcohol Make Dangerous Drug Cocktail
According to a new study published this month is the journal Anesthesiology, consuming painkillers while drinking alcohol can hinder breathing to a potentially deadly effect – especially in older adults.
Dr. Albert Dahan, study author and head of the Anesthesia and Pain Research Unit at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands:
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing more fatalities and people in emergency rooms after having misused or abused legally prescribed opioids, like oxycodone, while having consumed alcohol.”
“Respiratory depression is a potentially fatal complication of opioid use. We found alcohol exacerbated the already harmful respiratory effects of opioids.”
About The Study
For the study, researchers examined the effects of combining the opioid oxycodone (widely prescripbed to treat chronic pain) with alcohol on 12 young volunteers, aged 21-28, and 12 older adults, aged 66-77. Participants had not used opioids previously.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 2 million Americans misuse opioids. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 78 Americans die every day from overdoses related to opioids.
Reports have also revealed that deaths frequently involved other substances, particularly other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol.
Study authors report that consuming even one dose of oxycodone with a “modest amount” of alcohol increases the risk of respiratory depression.
Older participants were more likely than younger volunteers to suffer from multiple episodes where they stopped breathing temporarily, implying that an alcohol/drug cocktail is especially dangerous for seniors.
Dahan said this is a journal news release:
“We hope to increase awareness regarding the dangers of prescription opioids, the increased danger of the simultaneous use of opioids and alcohol, and that elderly people are at an even greater increased risk of this potentially life-threatening side effect.”
“Ultimately, people should know that it is never a good idea to drink alcohol with opioids.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology