Potential for alcohol and prescription drug interactions in older people

Kristine E. Pringle, Frank M. Ahern, Debra A. Heller, Carol H. Gold, Theresa V. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To examine the patterns and prevalence of concomitant alcohol and alcohol-interactive (AI) drug use in older people. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of survey and prescription claims data. SETTING: The Pennsylvania Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PA-PACE) program, a state-funded program providing prescription benefits to older people with low to moderate incomes. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 83,321 PA-PACE cardholders (age range 65-106) who were using any prescription medications at the time of survey completion. MEASUREMENTS: All AI drugs were identified using a database of medication warning labels obtained from First DataBank. Prescription drug claims were used to characterize AI drug exposure according to therapeutic class of prescription drug use. A mail survey of PA-PACE cardholders was used to examine alcohol use, as well as sociodemographic and health factors associated with concomitant use of alcohol and AI drugs. RESULTS: Seventy-seven percent of all prescription drug users were exposed to AI medications, with significant variation in exposure and concomitant alcohol use according to therapeutic class. Overall, 19% of AI drug users reported concomitant alcohol use, compared with 26% of non-AI drug users (P <.001). Multinomial logistic regression analyses showed that certain groups of older people, including younger older people, men, and those with higher educational levels, were at greater risk for concomitant exposure to alcohol and AI drugs. CONCLUSION: Many older people use alcohol in combination with AI prescription drugs. Clinicians should warn every patient who is prescribed an AI drug about alcohol-drug interactions, especially those at high risk for concomitant exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1930-1936
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Potential for alcohol and prescription drug interactions in older people'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this