National focus on overdose prevention should include alcohol too, study suggests

The need to prevent and rapidly treat opioid overdoses is in the spotlight. But a new study suggests more focus is needed on the risk of alcohol overdoses among people who use opioids of all kinds, and other drugs. Ninety percent of residential recovery center patients surveyed had overdosed on alcohol at least once, and 80 percent of them said that at the time of their overdose, they had also been taking other drugs.

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Study highlights overdose risks of alcohol used with other drugs

Only one in five non-fatal alcohol overdoses results from use of alcohol alone, according to a study of patients in a large addiction treatment facility, with most alcohol overdoses involving concomitant use of other drugs. Alcohol can interact with other drugs ─ including marijuana, central nervous system depressants such as opioids, and stimulants such as cocaine ─ in various ways, and using them together is known to increase the likelihood and severity of overdose. Despite this, there is limited research examining the characteristics of alcohol overdose in the context of concomitant drug use. The new study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, provides a clearer understanding of role of other drug use and its impact on outcomes of alcohol overdose.

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