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Alcohol and Prescription Drug Interactions Among Aging Adults

Kristine E. Pringle, Ph.D., Health Care Consultant, First Health Services Corporation/PAPACE, Harrisburg, PA, USA.
Frank M. Ahern, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Department of Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.
Debra A. Heller, Ph.D., Senior Health Care Consultant, First Health Services Corporation/PA-PACE, Harrisburg, PA, USA.

Many medications have the potential to interact with alcohol, and older patients may be at greater risk of experiencing adverse effects due to issues of comorbidity and polypharmacy. Even small amounts of alcohol consumed by an older person who is taking multiple medications can have serious consequences. A retrospective analysis linked prescription claim records with self-reported alcohol use. Results showed that 77% of older adults used at least one alcohol-interactive medication, and 19% of alcohol-interactive drug users reported concomitant alcohol use. Because many individuals are unaware of the risks posed by alcohol and medications, it is important for clinicians to warn patients about potential interactions.
Keywords: older adults, alcohol, prescription drug use, alcohol-drug interactions, concomitant use of alcohol and prescription drugs.