D.4.4 Describe the synergistic effects of ethanol with other drugs.

Synergistic Effects are effects resulting from taking two or more drugs at the same time, when the combination of two or more drugs has a greater effect than the sum of the individual effects. Both the desired effect AND the side effects will have a greater effect.

Mixing alcoholic beverages with other drugs may lead to unpleasant and sometimes fatal synergistic effects:
  • Minor drowsiness may occur from drinking alcohol while taking an antihistamine (allergy medication)
  • Loss of consciousness and/or death may occur when alcohol is taken with certain barbiturates, tranquilizers, and prescription pain killers (morphine).
  • When mixing alcohol (a depressant) with another depressant, the depressant effects on the central nervous system will be multiplied, which could potentially be lethal.

Ethanol and Aspirin

Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicycli acid, is often used as an analgestic to relieve minor aches and pains.

One of aspirin's side effects, especially if taken in higher doses is stomach bleeding (See D.3.2) .
Ethanol weakens the stomach lining and therefore makes the stomach more prone to bleeding when taken with aspirin.

Others (Not IB specified)

Arthritis Medication
Arthritis Medication, when mixed with ethanol can cause stomach bleeding and increase liver damage.

Stronger effects include loss of coordination, dizzyness, drowsiness, and memory problems. It can also slow breathing and heart rate.

Warfarin (blood thinner)
When mixed with ethanol can
cause internal bleeding, and when drunk excessively can cause blood clots.

Ethanol taken with cocaine may lead to cause of "cocaine-associated myocardial deaths"

Ethanol taken with cigarettes may cause cancer in the upper digestive tract.

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