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Thanks to low fuel prices, the stock market on a high, and improved employment numbers, the AAA predicts that more Americans will travel over this Thanksgiving holiday then in the last 7 years. In fact, they are estimating that about 46 million people will travel at least 50 miles over the long weekend. With an increased number of drivers on the road, it’s a good time to remind everyone to NOT drink and drive. You can expect to see increased numbers of police patrolling the roads and DUI checkpoints throughout the country. Officers will be on high alert looking for public intoxication offenders, speeding or impaired drivers, as well as individuals not wearing their seatbelts and in some states, those holding cell phone devices.

According to the CDC, about 1/3 of American adults drink excessively which doesn’t necessarily mean the adult is an alcoholic, but that he or she partakes in binge drinking multiple times each month. This time of year, the number of times tends to increase as people attend Thanksgiving, Holiday and New Years celebrations. You generally fall into this category if you are a woman who drinks 4 or more alcoholic drinks during one evening or a man who drinks 5 or more. Not only is this behavior physically unhealthy, but also contributes to an increase in accidents both on and off the roads.

It’s also important to note that medication and alcohol don’t mix! You might be a normally healthy person trying to get over an illness by taking antibiotics or aspirin or maybe you are taking Xanax for a few days to help relieve your fear of travel or the stress of family get togethers. If so, your doctors advice not to drink while taking the medication is fully warranted. Many medications contain ingredients that when combined with alcohol can become seriously hazardous or less effective causing a delay in recovery.

Some helpful facts to know about the interaction of alcohol and common over-the-counter or prescription drugs that many of us take include:

1. Alcohol dissolves the coating on time-released capsules. So, if you are taking things like cold and allergy medication or Tylenol in time released form, the alcohol will make it so you get the full dose all at once instead of being properly delayed.

2. Alcohol increases drowsiness and so do many antidepressants. The combination generally impairs your ability to react quickly and stay alert.

3. Alcohol reduces the effect of antibiotics and can also contribute to nausea.

4. Alcohol mixed with your nightly tranquilizer can cause severe drowsiness, and slow down your pulse, breathing and blood pressure. Too much can lead to fatality.

5. Alcohol mixed with aspirin or Tylenol can contribute to gastro-intestinal issues like stomach bleeding.

If you are hosting parties over the holidays, it’s always nice to be considerate by providing delicious non-alcoholic drinks for anyone who shouldn’t drink. If you are taking any type of medicine as a partygoer, please keep in mind that alcohol consumption will enhance the effects of drowsiness already caused by the medication, can increase or decrease your blood pressure, and in some cases the drugs purpose will be diminished or negated.