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What is Omeprazole?
Omeprazole is a prescription drug used to reduce stomach acid. The brand name of omeprazole is Prilosec.
Omeprazole is commonly prescribed to treat chronic heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, stomach ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. It may also be prescribed to treat Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Omeprazole is classified as a proton pump inhibitor or PPI. It is similar in action to other proton pump inhibitors such as:
- Rabeprazole (AcipHex) RX
- Esomeprazole (Nexium) OTC
- Lansoprazole (Prevacid) OTC
- Dexlansoprazole (Dexilant) RX
- Pantoprazole (Protonix) RX
- Zegerid (omeprazole with sodium bicarbonate) OTC
A healthcare provider may prescribe omeprazole after over-the-counter antacids prove ineffective.
Effects of Omeprazole
Omeprazole is used to reduce the bodily production of stomach acid. It does this by disrupting the function of proton pumps which help create stomach acid. This disruption can cause a number of effects, including:
- Stomach cramps
- Allergic reactions
- Loss of appetite
- B12 deficiency
- Heart arrhythmia
Omeprazole, like most prescription drugs, shouldn’t be taken in combination with other drugs or substances. The prolonged use of omeprazole can also cause clostridium difficile or C. diff, an intestinal infection.
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Is Omeprazole Addictive?
Omeprazole isn’t addictive in the same sense as other prescription drugs. There’s no high or psychological craving produced by omeprazole. However, an individual can experience physical signs of drug withdrawal after prolonged use.
The primary withdrawal symptom is significantly increased stomach acid production that meets or exceeds pre-omeprazole levels. This can result in a return and uptick of prior symptoms and the emergence of general conditions associated with an overproduction of stomach acid. This includes:
- Stomach ulcers
- Stomach pain
- Fragile bones
- Weakened immune system
- General tiredness
These effects occur most consistently after long-term use. Despite these dangers, Omeprazole remains one of the best options for treating chronic heartburn, stomach ulcers, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. This is a rare condition characterized by one or more tumors that develop in your pancreas or the upper part of your small intestine (duodenum).
Healthcare providers will gradually lessen the dose and frequency of omeprazole to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal.
Side Effects of Mixing Omeprazole and Alcohol
Omeprazole and alcohol have no direct drug interactions. However, the choice to drink alcohol would be counterproductive as alcohol increases stomach acid production. Combining omeprazole and alcohol can cause separate but similar effects within the body.
These effects are due to an increased likelihood of dehydration due to alcohol and vitamin deficiency from long-term omeprazole use.
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Risks of Omeprazole and Alcohol
Omeprazole and alcohol, despite not having any distinct drug interactions, can worsen a number of serious medical conditions. This is because alcoholic beverages increase stomach acid production and individuals in need of omeprazole already possess stomach acid-related illnesses and conditions. The most common risks of omeprazole and alcohol are as follows:
- Increased risk of liver failure — Combining omeprazole and alcohol can place severe strain on the liver. Furthermore, in rare cases, omeprazole alone can cause acute liver disease.
- Increased heartburn frequency and intensity — The counteracting effect of alcohol can intensify any underlying heartburn or acid reflux conditions.
- Magnesium deficiency — Magnesium deficiency can be caused by either omeprazole or alcohol. Magnesium deficiency is a serious health condition that can affect weight loss, mood, seizure, and more.
These are just some of the risks of drinking alcohol and taking omeprazole.
Can You Overdose From Mixing Omeprazole and Alcohol?
It is possible to overdose from mixing omeprazole and alcohol. In high doses, Omeprazole can induce feelings of confusion, drowsiness, and irritability. It can also cause acute liver failure. Alcohol in excess causes similar life-threatening effects.
Overdosing on the combination of omeprazole and alcohol has more to do with the individual dangers of either drug, rather than any shared side effect.
However, other medicines also used to treat heartburn and stomach ulcers can have varying effects. For example, ranitidine (an H2-Blocker) was recently recalled by the FDA. It contained small amounts of alcohol, which caused higher BAC levels, and further intensified the side effects of increased stomach acid production.
Lastly, certain drugs shouldn’t be taken with omeprazole under any circumstance. For example, St. John’s Worts, a plant, noticeably decreases the effectiveness of omeprazole and other PPI.
Treatment for Omeprazole and Alcohol Abuse
Treatment for Omeprazole and alcohol abuse is available in three primary forms:
- Inpatient treatment — acceptance into an inpatient program has been slowed down due to covid-19. You may need to seek further medical advice for inpatient options should the wait times be too long. Inpatient care is ideal for substance use disorders that require 24/7 professional care and support.
- Outpatient treatment — outpatient care is ideal for those who don’t want a severe disruption to their home lives. Outpatient care provides individuals with the tools and framework to manage their cravings alone and better process emotional stress. Outpatient care for omeprazole and alcohol abuse withdrawal may require frequent check-ins to ensure any medicines prescribed for withdrawal symptoms are being taken consistently and correctly.
- Medication-assisted treatment — medicine-based care will likely occur in both inpatient and outpatient treatments. MAT can help with the symptoms of withdrawal from either drug and help stabilize individual moods. Medicine-based care for omeprazole and alcohol can include increasingly reduced doses of omeprazole. A separate drug may be prescribed to treat the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Any of these three treatment options will also include therapeutic care to help build positive coping mechanisms and provide tools for managing the effects of dependence. Health information from a patient’s medical history will also be used to create a patient-specific treatment option.