Overdose Prevention Needs More Focus on Alcohol
Results from a new study suggest more focus on alcohol is necessary in overdose prevention.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Addiction Centre surveyed 660 people in a residential recovery centre. They found that,
- 90% had overdosed on alcohol at least once in their lives – blacking out, or suffering alcohol poisoning severe enough to need medical treatment;
- 80% of alcohol overdose survivors said that at the time of their overdose, they had also been taking other drugs;
- More than 43% said they’d been using marijuana;
- Around 1 in 4 said they’d been using sedatives such as sleeping pills, and/or cocaine or crack, and/or prescription opioids;
- Nearly 40% said they’d been using two or more drugs in addition to alcohol when they suffered their alcohol overdose.
It was also found the more substances were being taken at once the higher the chances were that their alcohol overdose sent them to the hospital for emergency or inpatient care.
Lethal drug interaction with alcohol
According to Dr. Anne Fernandez the lead author of the study, many people don’t realize that alcohol by itself kills six people in the United States every single day.
Many of the 130 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S each day may result from a combination of illicit or prescription opioids with alcohol, and perhaps other substances such as sleeping pills and anxiety medications that depress the central nervous system.
We tend to think of opioids such as heroin and fentanyl as the ones that have the risk of an overdose, but people taking prescription opioids or sedatives for legitimate medical reasons are also at risk of an overdose if they combine those with alcohol,” said Dr. Anne Fernandez, lead author of the study as per newswise.
…[alcohol is] still one of our nation’s biggest killers, in both its acute and long-term effects, and its role in raising the risk of serious injuries during other activities like driving.”
Dr. Fernandez also noted the importance of more research on the effect of marijuana and marijuana derivatives combined with alcohol, especially considering the recent host of marijuana legalization in several states and increasing normalization of the drug.