Feature Archive

Taking Medications Correctly

Not following directions can have nasty consequences.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Gary Vogin Claudia was doing well. The Prozac she'd been prescribed was working to treat her depression. She was handling a high-stress job, enjoying life as a newlywed, and making progress in therapy.

Then she went to a birthday party for her boss. She knew alcohol was off-limits for people, like herself, on anti-depressants. "Alcohol is a depressant," her psychiatrist had warned. "It could counteract the Prozac."

But believing the consequences would be minor, Claudia (not her real name) ordered a margarita. By the time she'd finished a second one, she was drunk. And she was flirting with a woman. "I was a different person -- aggressive," she says.

The next day Claudia was too sick to work and had to cancel an appointment with her psychiatrist. Shocked and mortified by her own behavior, she shared the story with her doctor. That's when Claudia heard for the first time that Prozac, when mixed with alcohol, can make a person hypersexual and manic. "I wish I had known that to begin with," she says. "I would have stuck with water."

Misusing Prescription Drugs

Claudia was lucky she was only left with a bruised reputation and a bad hangover. Taking prescription drugs in a wrong way can lead to serious problems -- even poisoning. According to a 1995 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, medicine-related illnesses cost $76 billion per year in increased hospital stays, lost wages, and death.