Alcohol abuse in this generation is complicated by the use of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The elderly spend over $500 million yearly on medications. Combining medications and alcohol frequently result in significant adverse reactions. Due to a reduction in blood flow to the liver and kidneys in the elderly, there can be a 50% decrease in the rate of metabolism of some medications, especially benzodiazepines. Additionally, chlordiazepoxide (Librium?) and diazepam (Valium?) have such long half lives (often several days) in the elderly that prolonged sedation from these drugs, combined with the sedative effects of alcohol, can increase the risk of falls and fractures. The benzodiazepine user may become confused and take extra doses or other medications, causing overdose or death.


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