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The use of alcohol and medicines among Australian adults


Correspondence to:
Dr Wendy Swift, NDARC, Randwick Campus, University of New South Wales, King Street, Randwick, New South Wales 2052. Fax: (02) 9385 0222; e-mail:


Objective: To collect Australian population-based data on concurrent use of conventional medicines, complementary/alternative medicines (CAM), and alcohol.

Method: National survey administered in December 2005 to 816 Australian adults.

Results: 71% of respondents reported recent (last 24 hour) use of conventional medicine or CAM. 24% had recently consumed alcohol and conventional medicine, 17% alcohol and CAM and 13% alcohol and both types of medicines. Use of blood pressure and arthritis medicines was significantly more likely among daily drinkers than less than daily drinkers and non-drinkers.

Conclusions: Concurrent use of medicines and alcohol is common, particularly among older people.

Implications: Use of alcohol may have an impact on the stability of chronic illness managed by medicines or other types of interactions with medicines, such as sedation. Health care professionals should routinely inquire about such use to be able to incorporate appropriate safety strategies into clinical management.