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The risks of mixing medications with alcohol

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2023 | Drug Charges, DWI Defense |

Many people in Mahwah, NJ, rely on medications to help them feel better or manage certain conditions. However, combining these medications with alcohol may lead to serious health risks and complications.

For example, mixing medications and alcohol might affect your driving performance and put you at higher risk of getting DWIs.

Impaired cognitive and motor skills

At least 22% of drivers who underwent tests at five trauma centers in 2020 had multiple drugs, such as prescription medications and alcohol, in their system.

Alcohol and medications, such as certain pain relievers, tranquilizers and antidepressants, can impair cognitive and motor skills. When people combine these substances, the effects can intensify, leading to compromised judgment, slower reaction times and reduced coordination. This impairment significantly increases the risk of car accidents.

Increased drowsiness

Some medications, particularly those for sleep disorders or allergies, can cause drowsiness. Alcohol magnifies this drowsiness, making it extremely dangerous for drivers. Drowsy driving can lead to microsleeps — brief episodes of sleep that last only a few seconds but can result in catastrophic accidents.

Decreased focus and concentration

Both alcohol and certain medications can reduce a driver’s ability to concentrate and maintain focus. This can result in distractions, missed traffic signals or failure to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions.

Unpredictable reactions

The combination of alcohol and medications can lead to unpredictable reactions. For example, severe nausea, dizziness or hallucinations while driving may result.

Risk mitigation

To mitigate the risks, avoid consuming alcohol when taking medications, especially if you plan to drive. Read medication labels and warnings to understand potential side effects, especially those that could affect your ability to drive safely.

Consult your medical providers or pharmacists about the effects of medications on driving. They can provide guidance on when it is safe to drive and if any alternative treatments are available. If you are taking medications that may impair your ability to drive, consider using alternative transportation methods such as public transit, ridesharing services or designated drivers.