USA: Link between Binge Alcohol Use and Prescription Drugs Misuse
A new study by the CDC reports more than 4.2 million Americans who misused prescription opioids between 2012 and 2014 also engaged in binge alcohol use. People who engaged in heavy binge alcohol use were nearly twice as likely to misuse prescription opioids compared to alcohol abstainers.
Binge alcohol use is defined in the United States as the consumption of four or more units of alcohol for women and five or more units of alcohol for men, in a single occasion. Prescription opioid misuse is the use of these drugs without a prescription, or use only for the feeling the drug causes.
People who binged on alcohol were nearly twice as likely to misuse prescription opioids as abstainers.
We are losing far too many Americans each day from overdoses,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D., as per CDC.
Combining alcohol and opioids can significantly increase the risk of overdoses and deaths.”
Age and social factors of binge alcohol use and opioid misuse
- Young people who binged on alcohol had higher rates of prescription opioid misuse.
- 2 in 3 people who binged on alcohol and misused prescription opioids were age 26 years and older.
- Prescription opioid misuse was more common among people who binged on alcohol with lower education and income levels.
- Prescription opioid misuse increased with the frequency of binge alcohol use.
Solutions for the problem
A comprehensive and coordinated approach to preventing binge alcohol use and prescription opioid misuse could help to reduce the risk of drug overdoses.
Effective community prevention strategies for reducing binge alcohol consumption include:
- Limiting the number of places that sell alcohol in neighborhoods,
- Legal liability for places that illegally serve underage or intoxicated patrons,
- Maintaining limits on the days and hours when alcohol can be sold.
Effective strategies for reducing overdoses involving prescription opioids include following opioid prescribing guidelines, such as the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, as well as strategies to prevent and treat opioid use disorders.