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Alcohol and medicines

Two basic situations are possible: alcohol changes the effect of the drug or the drug changes the effect of alcohol. We will not consider cases when the addiction to alcohol occurs already on a chronic basis: here completely different mechanisms begin to work. People who are friends with Bacchus, for example, are no longer affected by pain medications, local dental anesthesia, or even surgical anesthesia.


How can alcohol affect the behavior of a drug in our body? Yes, whatever. Strengthen, reduce the effect or even distort it beyond recognition. Sometimes it is impossible to predict what troubles the use of alcohol as a drink will turn out to be. A lot depends on the individual characteristics of the body, a specific medicine and a particular alcoholic beverage.

A classic example of summarizing effects was demonstrated in the sensational film by Sergey Ashkenazi "Criminal Talent" (1988). The heroine of Alexandra Zakharova met with men in a restaurant, they drank, and in the morning they woke up with empty pockets and a severe headache.

The sedative effect of alcohol was superimposed on the hypotensive and sedative effect of clonidine, which the scammer mixed in with her victims.

The next example, used, however, mainly by suicides, is taking barbiturates and drinking them with vodka. This can lead to deadly respiratory depression. Antidepressants and alcohol also do not combine. Alcohol is a depressant, that is, an antagonist of antidepressants, and nullifies their effect.

There is another pitfall: drinking alcohol stimulates the release of additional adrenaline, which means (together with antidepressants) the heart starts to beat like crazy, blood pressure rises, small vessels are spasmodic. In addition, some beers and wines contain tyramine, which has an effect similar to adrenaline.

Under normal conditions, tyramine is destroyed in the intestine, but with the use of drugs, it can enter the bloodstream and drive blood pressure to exorbitant heights. Almost the same effect can be obtained if, during a cold, drip any vasoconstrictor drops into the nose and add “inside for sugare”, say, vodka with pepper. Ethanol, among other things, also increases the sensitivity of the heart to the effects of adrenaline. And even a tiny dose of adrenaline-like substances can significantly affect well-being.

Another dirty trick on the part of alcohol is the powerful activation of liver enzymes from the group of cyrochromes. They are responsible for detoxification in general, but cytochromes also utilize a lot of drugs, for example, oral contraceptives. In fairness, it is worth noting that 1-2 glasses of wine at dinner will not play a special role, but the desire to destroy all alcohol reserves while taking contraceptives can turn into a “kinder surprise”.

Caution should be taken with anti-inflammatory drugs. So, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (the same aspirin) paired with alcohol increases the risk of developing stomach ulcers.


Ethyl alcohol decomposes in our bodies under the influence of enzymes. In the first step, alcohol dehydrogenase converts ethanol to acetic aldehyde. At the second stage, it turns acetic aldehyde into acetic acid, which is already dispersed without any problems into carbon dioxide and water. The most toxic product is acetic aldehyde. It is he who should be thanked for the symptoms of a hangover. One of the methods for treating alcoholism, popularly known as “hemming,” is built on this feature. It is possible to turn out to be “hemmed” when taking some antibacterial drugs.

Another classic case where a medicine changes the behavior of alcohol in the body is with caffeine. Surely they noticed that coffee liquor is approximately equal in strength to vodka, although the degrees in it are almost half as much. This is due to the peculiarities of the interaction of caffeine and ethanol. Being a psychostimulant, caffeine can indeed give a temporary “sobering” effect, which is sometimes used in bars or restaurants, but after a while the intoxication returns, more pronounced. The fact is that caffeine enhances the penetration of ethyl alcohol through the blood-brain barrier, that is, alcohol rushes into the brain with a vengeance, and we have a kind of "bonus" to intoxication.

There is not a single beneficial combination of alcohol and medicine. Even relatively safe a bit. It is best to drink the medicine with water at room temperature.

Алкоголь и лекарства

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