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The dangers of mixing prescription drugs together or with other substances are very real. It can lead to both short term and long term mental and physical health conditions. The chances of suffering from a drug overdose are also vastly increased.

Medicine-in-Hand

If you are taking any kind of prescription drug it is important to know the potential danger that comes from mixing them; whether that be with other prescription drugs, illicit substances, over the counter medications or alcohol.

If you are purposely mixing prescription drugs regularly to get high, then you may well have a problem that requires professional help. That being the case, we at Delamere successfully treat patients who abuse all manner of different drugs, including legitimately prescribed ones.


Why Do People Mix Prescription Drugs?

Those who purposely mix prescription drugs do so in order to accentuate the drugs sought after effects. For example, mixing a prescription drug that has sedative properties (ie benzodiazepines) with an opiate medication will increase sedation and euphoria.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs tend to have sedative, analgesic, euphoric or stimulant effects. They also tend to be controlled drugs, as their potential for misuse is high.

Many who abuse prescription drugs choose to mix prescription drugs with weed or alcohol. The effects include increased sedation, relaxation and euphoria. There are numerous ways in which prescription drugs can be abused. Mixing them together, with cannabis or with alcohol is sadly very common.

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is no less dangerous than any other drug addiction. If anything it is more dangerous. Prescription drugs tend to provide a false sense of security. They are also easy to obtain, can have a legitimate purpose and are easy to abuse.

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Prescription Drugs That Should Never Be Mixed

Prescription drugs that are especially dangerous to mix include those that slow down breathing and have sedative effects. These depressant drugs include opiates, opioid painkillers, central nervous system depressants, benzodiazepines, antihistamines, sleeping tablets, general anaesthetics and alcohol. Combining any of these together increases the risk of suffering life threatening respiratory complications.1

Mixing stimulant prescription drugs together is also very dangerous. It can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a heart attack or stroke. 1


The Risks of Mixing Prescription Drugs

There are many risks that come with mixing prescription drugs. The main risks are:

  • Increased risk of injury. You are more likely to have an accident or suffer an injury due to increased sedation, impulsivity and risk taking
  • Danger of developing a drug dependence and addiction. Regularly mixing prescription drugs can lead to drug dependence and addiction.
  • Increased risk of overdose. When mixing prescription drugs you become less aware of your consciousness levels, leading you to take more than your body can cope with. This can result in prescription drug poisoning, coma and death.
  • Drug to drug interaction. Some prescription drugs can negatively interact with each other when mixed together. This produces a number of unpleasant and even dangerous side effects
  • Harm to physical health. Frequent mixing of prescription drugs can result in long term damage to your heart, liver, stomach and kidneys
  • Harm to mental health. Regularly mixing prescription drugs can negatively impact on your mental health, causing increased anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation

Even mixing seemingly harmless and non-addictive prescription drugs together, or with alcohol ( i.e antibiotics or SSRI antidepressants) can result in dangerous or unpleasant effects.


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Avoiding The Dangers Associated With Mixing Prescription Drugs

In order to avoid the dangers associated with mixing prescription drugs, always:

  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist all medications you are taking including over the counter medications. This way possible drug on drug interactions can be easily avoided
  • Take your medication exactly as prescribed or instructed. Read the accompanying leaflet which should include a list of possible drug interactions.
  • Avoid alcohol if your prescription medication states this. If you have a problem with alcohol and know that you are likely to drink, it is best to be honest with your doctor so that they can consider an alternative medication
  • Tell your doctor if you are abusing illicit drugs or have a drug dependence before taking controlled prescription drugs. Taking a controlled drug when you have a drug problem increases your chances of developing a further addiction to prescription drugs and suffering an overdose
  • Tell your doctor if you have ever previously had a problem with drugs or alcohol. Having a previous substance abuse problem puts you at higher risk of prescription drug abuse and addiction of controlled medications

What To Do If You Have A Prescription Drug Problem

If you have a problem with mixing prescription drugs and want help to stop, it is important that you seek the correct medical help and advice. Do not just stop taking the medication you are prescribed, this could result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Depending on the extent of your problem, your doctor may be able to help with a safe prescription drug reduction regime. They should also be able to arrange some counselling for you. Counselling can help to address the issues underlying your prescription drug abuse.

If you have already tried to address your prescription drug abuse and failed or you suffer from addiction, a more intensive form of drug treatment may be needed. The most important thing to do is ask for help.

Addiction is medically recognised as a chronic relapsing brain disorder, characterised by compulsive drug seeking and taking despite adverse effects and consequences 3.4 Left untreated it only ever becomes progressively worse. Prescription drug abuse and addiction requires professional addiction treatment, tailored to your individual treatment needs.


Help For A Prescription Drug Addiction

Here at Delamere we help those who suffer from addiction to prescription drugs to make a full and lasting recovery.

We apply a number of evidence based treatments that are extremely effective in treating prescription drug addiction and abuse.

All treatments are delivered in house by our elite team of addiction treatment professionals. Our multidisciplinary team of experts include a consultant psychiatrist, doctor, qualified nurses, counsellors, addiction therapists, holistic therapists and complementary therapists. We also have several support workers. All of our staff work around the clock to ensure your safety and comfort at all times, day or night.

By undergoing a prescription drug treatment programme with us, you will benefit from the following:

  • A full medical detox for any prescription drug dependence, illicit drug dependence or alcohol dependence. At Delamare we are experienced in conducting complex detoxes that involve a number of substances
  • 24/7 medical care and therapeutic support
  • A bespoke treatment programme consisting of evidence based treatments to treat all addictions presenting, comprehensively and simultaneously
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Access to our private gym
  • Access to our equine therapy centre
  • A comprehensive holistic programme
  • Introduction to external support services
  • A family programme
  • A supported reintegration programme
  • A comprehensive aftercare programme

For a free prescription drug treatment assessment and information on how we can help you or a loved one to overcome abuse or addiction call or speak to us online


Further information & guides about prescription drugs

Struggling with prescription drug addiction? Take action today…

For more information speak to our team about how we can help you grow beyond addiction and find residential treatment programmes today.

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Call us confidentially at any time to speak to a member of our team.

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References:

  1. Jones CM, McAninch JK. Emergency Department Visits and Overdose Deaths From Combined Use of Opioids and Benzodiazepines. Am J Prev Med. 2015;49(4):493-501. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2015.03.040
  2. Pentel P. Toxicity of Over-the-Counter Stimulants. JAMA. 1984;252(14):1898-1903.
  3. Goldstein RZ, Volkow ND. Dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex in addiction: neuroimaging findings and clinical implications. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011;12(11):652-669. doi:10.1038/nrn3119
  4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction#footnote