Alcohol Can Intensify Drug Effects
July 29, 2012

Drinking Alcohol Intensifies Drug Effects In The Body

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

According to new research, alcohol combined with certain medications not only opens up the risks of liver damage, stomach bleeding and other side effects, it also makes those drugs "three times more available to the body, effectively tripling the original dose."

Reporting in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, Christel Bergström and colleagues explain that drinking alcohol can increase the amount of non-prescription and prescription drugs that are "available" to the body after taking a specific dose.

Some drugs do not dissolve well in the gastrointestinal tract, and alcohol, or ethanol, can change how enzymes and other substances in the body interact with these medicines. Because of this, the researchers looked in to whether ethanol made these drugs dissolve more easily, which could make the drugs more readily available in the body, thereby increasing their effects.

On order to test this, the scientists used a simulated environment of the small intestine to test how rapidly 22 different medications dissolved when alcohol was and was not present. To their surprise, almost 60 percent of the medications dissolved much faster when taken with alcohol. In addition, they found that certain types of substances, such as those that were acidic, were more affected. Some common acidic drugs include Warfarin, the anticoagulant; Tamoxifen, used to treat certain forms of cancer; and Naproxen, which relieves pain and inflammation.

The obvious lesson we can learn from this study? When taking medications, don't drink alcohol.