Washington (ISJ) - In a shocking revelation, a study by US health institutes has found that more than 40 percent of US adults have been consuming drinks while using medications known to interact with alcohol. Among those over 65 years of age who drink alcohol, nearly 78 percent have been found using alcohol-interactive medications.
The study conducted by National Institutes of Health (NIH) finds that such medications are widely used to treat conditions such as depression, diabetes and high blood pressure.
"Combining alcohol with medications often carries the potential for serious health risks," said Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of NIH.
"Based on this study, many individuals may be mixing alcohol with interactive medications and they should be aware of the possible harms," Koob added.
Health officials said the idea behind the research was to estimate the proportion of adult drinkers in the United States who may be mixing alcohol-interactive medications with alcohol.
Most of alcohol consumers were found taking medications for blood pressure, sleeping pills, pain medications, muscle relaxers, diabetes and cholesterol medications, antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Doctors warned that it could lead to serious health effects from mild (nausea, headaches, loss of coordination) to severe (internal bleeding, heart problems, difficulty breathing).
"Our findings show that a substantial percentage of people who drink regularly, particularly older adults, could be at risk of harmful alcohol and medication interactions," said Dr. Rosalind Breslow, an epidemiologist in NIAAA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, who led the study.
"We suggest that people talk to their doctor or pharmacist about whether they should avoid alcohol while taking their prescribed medications," he added.
More than 26,000 adults aged 20 and older participated in the survey. The survey asked participants about alcohol use in the past year and prescription drug use in the past month.
Based on recent estimates, about 71 percent of U.S. adults drink alcohol.
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