According to scientists, there is yet another reason to avoid drinking alcohol while taking certain medicines, besides the known consequences such as possible liver damage, stomach bleeding, and other side effects. Their laboratory experiments were reported in American Chemical Society’s (ACS) journal Molecular Pharmaceutics explaining how alcohol made several medications up to 3 times more available to the body, which triples the appropriate dose.

Beverage alcohol, or ethanol, may cause an increase in the amount of non-prescription and prescription drugs that are available to the body after taking the original dose, explained Christel Bergström and colleagues.

When alcohol is mixed with many of the 5,000 such medications available to customers, it can cause a change in how enzymes and other substances in the body interact.

Some medications have a problem dissolving in the gastrointestinal tract, particularly in the stomach and intestines. The researchers in this study wanted to see if ethanol helped these meds dissolve more easily. If it did, it would mean that the drugs were more available in the body, and could even intensify their effects when the person consumes alcohol.

In order to test how quickly drugs dissolved when alcohol was present and was not present, the experts used a simulated environment of the small intestine.

Nearly 60 percent of the 22 medications that the researchers tested dissolved considerably faster while alcohol was present. They also found that certain types of substances, those that were acidic, were more affected.

Some common acidic drugs include:

  • Warfarin- an anticoagulant, or “blood thinner” that is used to help prevent and treat blood clots.
  • Tamoxifen- used to treat certain forms of cancer, most commonly breast cancer
  • Naproxen- helps relieve pain and reduce swelling caused by conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, and gout.

Written by Sarah Glynn