Opiate drugs are most commonly used for their pain relieving effects.
The main chemical in opiate drugs comes from the poppy plant. The opium poppy seed plant contains over fifty different organic compounds that are used in medications to produce pain relief. There are different categories of opiate drugs: natural opiates, synthetic opiates, and semisynthetic opiates.
There are over 2800 prescription drugs available in the U.S. These are widely used, with over fourteen billion prescriptions written annually. All prescription drugs that have a negative or dangerous reaction when mixed with alcohol will state this on the label.
Here is what happens when alcohol and drugs interact in the body:
- A drug must travel to the bloodstream where is produces a change in the tissue. Alcohol and other drugs travel through the bloodstream to the brain causing intoxication before they are processed through the liver and eventually eliminated from the body.
- A single serving of alcohol may inhibit a drug’s interaction with the body by competing with the same enzymes as the alcohol that was ingested. This interaction can prolong the effects of the drug, increasing harmful effects in the body.
- Long term, chronic alcohol consumption may activate certain enzymes that decrease the drug’s effects. This can happen for weeks after the individual has stopped drinking. A chronic drinker will need higher doses of a medication to feel its’ effects. This can lead to overdose.
- Some of the enzymes activated by alcohol consumption will change certain drugs into toxic chemicals that damage parts of the body, such as the liver, pancreas, and brain.
- Alcohol will magnify the effects of some drugs, and some drugs will magnify the effects of alcohol.
Mixing alcohol and opiates produces dangerous changes in the body, including:
- Inability to remember how much medication was taken
- Shallow breathing
- Respiratory problems such as the inability to breathe
Mixing alcohol and opiates can be deadly. A report from the National Criminal Justice center states explains that taking opiates while ingesting alcohol intensifies the effects of both alcohol and the opiate drug, making overdose more likely and increasing the chances of respiratory failure and death. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Metal Health Services Administration, more than 28,000 people who entered drug rehabilitation facilities for opiates also abused alcohol.
If you or a loved one has been prescribed an opiate medication, it is of utmost importance to be honest with your physician and yourself about your alcohol consumption habits. For those with addiction problems, these two drugs seem to go hand in hand, causing not only a disastrous effect on the body, but possible fatality when taken together.
“Alcohol- Medication Interactions.”