New campaign warning of dangers of mixing alcohol and medication

Drink Wise Age Well campaign worker Adrian Loughrey, seated second from left, pictured with representatives from various groups who supported the launch of  Drink Wise Age Well Campaign in the Greater Shantallow area in the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership offices during the winter. Included are, seated from left, Lorraine McWilliams, Greater Shantallow Area Partnership, Councillor Caoimhe McKnight, Peter McDonald, Leafair Community Association, and Mary Casey, Culmore Community Partnership. DER4317-119KM
Drink Wise Age Well campaign worker Adrian Loughrey, seated second from left, pictured with representatives from various groups who supported the launch of Drink Wise Age Well Campaign in the Greater Shantallow area in the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership offices during the winter. Included are, seated from left, Lorraine McWilliams, Greater Shantallow Area Partnership, Councillor Caoimhe McKnight, Peter McDonald, Leafair Community Association, and Mary Casey, Culmore Community Partnership. DER4317-119KM

A new project is being launched across the North West aimed at ensuring local people aged 50 and over are aware of the dangers of mixing alcohol with prescription drugs.

Drink Wise, Age Well and Addiction NI have teamed up with chemists within the Western Trust to develop the ‘Think Before Your Mix’ project.

Those behind the initiative have stated that mixing alcohol and prescription drugs is something to be avoided at any age, due to the potential side-effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and difficulty breathing, and the potential to alter the effectiveness of the medication.

According to Drink Wise, Age Well, the hazards of combining alcohol and medication are even more pronounced in the over 50s as people are likely to be taking medication for health conditions as they get older, among other reasons.

A new ‘Alcohol and Medication: Know the Risks’ leaflet, which is being distributed via a partnership with chemists in the Western Trust area, also highlights that, as people age, their bodies process alcohol differently, which means older adults may experience harmful intoxication even if drinking within the recommended weekly guidelines.

The leaflet is accompanied by a short film on YouTube which explores the effects of combining specific medicines such as painkillers, sleeping tablets, antidepressants and blood thinning medication with alcohol.

This is further reinforced in the leaflet which has been produced in conjunction with clinical pharmacists.

The ‘Think Before You Mix’ – Alcohol &Medication campaign is set to be rolled out locally in the coming weeks ahead.

Leona Timoney, at Drink Wise, Age Well, said: “The particular dangers associated with combining alcohol with prescription medicines if you are over 50 are thoroughly explored in these new resources, with some surprising facts presented.

“Some medicines you might never suspect can react with alcohol to produce dangerous side-effects, putting you at risk of falls, accidents and of being over the drink driving limit even if you think you are not.”

Local pharmacist Colleen Duffy, of Boots Chemist in Derry, is taking part in the campaign.

She said: “Alcohol can adversely affect many medications and medical conditions, which is why it is so important for people to be informed of what is safe for them.

“People wishing to drink alcohol while on medication should always check with their pharmacist that it is safe to do so.

“We hope to raise awareness of the risks through this campaign, which initially focuses on people on multiple and/or long term medication.”

For more information on this campaign or the support Drink Wise, Age Well provides in the Western Trust area in general, visit the website www.drinkwiseagewell.org.uk and select ‘Where we work’.

Alternatively, telephone 028 828 39240.

The new campaign, one of several rolled out locally over recent months targeting older people, is being supported by regular social media messaging.

Local people on social media are urged to check out the Facebook page, DrinkWiseAgeWellNI and Twitter feed DWAW_NI for updates.

Drink Wise, Age Well is a National Lottery funded programme led by the behaviour change charity Addaction, which helps people aged 50 and over to make healthier choices about alcohol as they age.

Established in 2014, the seven-year programme is being delivered across five areas of Glasgow, Sheffield, Devon, Cwm Taf University Health Board area in Wales and the Western Trust Health &Social Care area here.

The programme offers an integrated, community-based approach in each of these five areas comprising: delivering one-to- one support; developing individual and community resilience to alcohol misuse; prevention and campaigning and training and workforce skills development.

They also provide advice and guidance at www.drinkwiseagewell.org.uk, including via web chat, which operates Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm and 6pm to 9pm, and 11am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.