When you use prescription medications, make sure always to follow the recommended guidelines. Some drug interactions can have serious side effects, while others may be lethal. 

Unfortunately, both intentional and unintentional drug mixing is common. To ensure the safe usage of prescription drugs and steer clear of the side effects, you should avoid these seven dangerous drug mistakes. 

Alcohol and opioids

Mixing alcohol with any kind of medicinal drug is bad news. But if you mix opioids and alcohol, it could have a serious effect on your health. 

Opioids are prescribed for pain. Along with relieving pain, they also have an overall effect of wellness and euphoria. Some side effects of opioids are confusion, nausea, drowsiness, and slowed breathing

Alcohol slows down your brain functions, which is why you have a slower reaction time and impaired judgment. Both alcohol and opioids slow down your nervous system. If you overdose on both of them together, it could slow down the body's functioning too much. 

Some common symptoms of this combination are loss of consciousness, very slow breathing rate, coma, and eventually death.

Opioids and benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are medications given for a wide range of diseases, such as nausea, vomiting, depression, panic attacks, and muscle pain. While they work great on their own, they do not mix well with opioids. 

Both drugs are sedative in nature, which means they will make you feel drowsy and lower your coordination. 

If you use both drugs at the same time, you will feel extremely sleepy. When taken in large doses, these medications can also slow down or even stop the main centers of the brain. 

In fact, many benzodiazepine-related deaths are due to the involvement of opioids. 

Warfarin and acetaminophen

Warfarin is a powerful drug prescribed to prevent blood clotting. It can save your life if you are at risk of blood clot formation. However, it is important to remember that warfarin can also cause excessive bleeding. It also interferes with other medical drugs. 

Some common side effects of warfarin are dizziness, weakness, vision changes, red urine, brown urine, severe bleeding, joint pain, and bloody stool

Acetaminophen is a painkiller that you can get over the counter. If you are currently using warfarin, you should not take Tylenol or any other acetaminophen-containing medications with it. 

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Warfarin and ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is another painkiller that can also help against fever. Since it's readily available over the counter, you'd probably have ibuprofen-containing medicines at home. Like acetaminophen, warfarin also interacts with ibuprofen and can cause bleeding. 

In some cases, using ibuprofen with warfarin may reduce the effectiveness of warfarin in preventing blood clots, putting you at risk.

PDE-5 inhibitors and nitrates

Viagra is the most popular example of PDE-5 inhibitors. This class of drugs affects cell signaling in the body. These drugs increase blood flow to a particular body part, such as the penis, and also help in muscle relaxation. 

Medicinal drugs containing nitrates relax blood vessels, making them wider. As a result, the blood vessels on the heart's surface relax. They get more oxygen and blood flow. This helps to treat angina, which occurs when not enough blood flows to the heart. 

Since both medicines are vasodilators (they dilate or expand the blood vessels), using them together can have hypotensive effects, which refers to low blood pressure. If your blood pressure drops below the normal range, you could faint or experience blurred vision, dehydration, nausea, lightheadedness, and lack of concentration.

Statins and amiodarone

Statins are drugs given to lower cholesterol levels. They also help against stroke and heart attack

Amiodarone is an antiarrhythmic agent prescribed to treat atrial fibrillation. It treats conditions in which your heart beats irregularly. It can restore the normal heart rhythm and maintain a steady heartbeat. 

When taken together, these drugs counter each other's effects. Statin goes through hepatic metabolism, which means it is processed in the liver. Amiodarone inhibits or stops the functioning of the enzymes that carry out this reaction. 

As a result, the amount of statin increases in the body, causing several risks, such as hepatotoxicity, which refers to the presence of toxins in the liver.

ACE inhibitors and potassium supplements

ACE inhibitors are given to lower blood pressure and improve your overall health. They can also slow down the development of kidney disease and atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up in the arteries and restricts blood flow. 

Potassium supplements are beneficial when your diet does not contain enough potassium. The mineral regulates many functions in the body, such as nerve signals and muscle contractions. 

You should never use these two drugs together since ACE inhibitors increase potassium levels. With potassium supplements doing the same thing, the potassium concentration in the body can go up to a toxic level.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/16/2021
References

Advances in Alcohol & Substance Abuse: "Alcohol and opioids: possible interactions of clinical importance."

American Journal of Cardiology: "Role of nitrates in angina pectoris."

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects: "Therapeutic benefits of ACE inhibitors and other antihypertensive drugs in patients with type 2 diabetes."

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology: "Opioids and the Treatment of Chronic Pain: Controversies, Current Status, and Future Directions."

Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences: "Statins and its hepatic effects: Newer data, implications, and changing recommendations."

Mayo Clinic: "Warfarin side effects: Watch for interactions."

Mayo Clinic Proceedings: "Benefits and Risks of Long-term Amiodarone Therapy for Persistent Atrial Fibrillation: A Meta-analysis."

Medicina Clínica: "Statins: pros and cons."

National Institute on Drug Abuse: "Benzodiazepines and Opioids."

The Mental Health Clinician: "Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review."