For a person’s health not to be compromised it is advisable not to mix drugs between themselves or with other substances without any medical advice.
Alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, herbal remedies, nutritional supplements can interact with prescribed medicines and though some interactions are minor others can be dangerous and in some cases even life-threatening.
More often than not people mix drugs in order to enhance their effects or compensate the undesirable side effects and some do mix different drugs without knowing what they are doing. This is seen especially in people doing self-medication.
When drugs are combined, they act independently of each other,They can potentiate each other either because they affect the body in the same way or because a drug concentration increases in a certain body part. For example alcohol and antihistamines both suppress the central nervous system.
Thus if combined they can lead to extreme drowsiness. They can also cancel or reduce the effects of eachwhen two drugs have opposite consequences on the body.
In African communities where the use of herbal remedies and traditional remedies is very high there is the tendency of patients to use both conventional and traditional medicine imultaneously and research shows that this has done more harm than good as a result of drug interactions which have resulted in severe complications and death. It is thus very important to always consult your doctor or pharmacist.
- Alcohol + Tranquilizers (benzodiazepines like diazepam) can lead to central nervous system depression, difficulty in coordination, coma and high risk of overdose and death.
- Alcohol + Antidepressants lead to pronounced depression of the central nervous system, sharp increase in blood pressure which can lead to brain hemorrhage and death.
- Alcohol + Antibiotics such as metronidazole, tinidazole, griseofulvin erythromycin, linezolid, co-trimoxazole and antimalarials can cause flushing, headaches, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting
- Alcohol + Opiate Drugs such as heroin and codeine leads to severe central nervous system depression, respiratory arrest and even death
- Alcohol + Tobacco: at least doubles the effects of tobacco, increases the absorption of harmful toxins.
- Alcohol + Cannabis: amplifies the effect of cannabis and increases the absorption of toxins
- Alcohol + Stimulants: causes blood pressure increases, the state of irritation raises, increases the risk of overdose.
- Alcohol + Prescription drugs: the benefits of antibiotics and other drugs are cancelled, cramps, nausea, convulsions, coma, vomiting and headaches, the stomach lining can be irritated, gastrointestinal bleeding, and in some cases even death.
The only way in which you can fully protect yourself is to completely avoid mixing drugs. When this is not possible each person must be informed about the medication they take and how it might interact with other drugs. Before any drugs are used it is advisable to ask your doctor or your pharmacist.
Each person that uses a drug must:
- Know what kind of substance they are using, for what purpose and what the possible side effects are.
- Ask your doctor or your pharmacist for information about any mixture of drugs of any kind (including supplements).
- Be given treatments that are recommended by doctors and not by friends and family.
- Not increase the dose of medication or painkillers prescribed by the doctor in an attempt to increase their effects.