The dangers of mixing drugs – Céline Valéry

The dangers of mixing drugs – Céline Valéry

Which of these three people
is doing something risky? Is it the one who takes their cholesterol
medication with grapefruit juice? The one who takes Acetaminophen pain
relievers for a sore ankle before
going out for drinks? Or the one who’s on a blood-thinning
medication and takes an aspirin for a headache? Actually, all of them are. Each has inadvertently created a drug
interaction that could, in extreme cases, lead to kidney failure; liver damage; or internal bleeding. Drug interactions happen when the combination of a drug
with another substance causes different effects than either
would individually. Foods, herbal supplements, legal drugs,
and illicit substances can all cause drug interactions. Most drug interactions
fall into two categories. Some take place when two substances’
effects influence each other directly. In other cases, one substance effects
how the body processes another, like how it is absorbed, metabolized,
or transported around the body. Blood thinners and aspirin, for example, have similar effects that become
dangerous when combined. Both prevent blood clots from forming— blood thinners by preventing the formation
of the clotting factors that hold clots together, and aspirin by preventing blood cells
from clumping into groups that become clots. Individually, these effects
are usually safe, but taken together, they can prevent blood
clotting to a dangerous extent, possibly causing internal bleeding. While blood thinners and aspirin are
generally harmless when taken individually, interactions where one substance
exacerbates the effects of another can also take place between drugs that
are independently harmful. Cocaine and heroin are each dangerous, and those dangers compound when the
two drugs are combined— even though their behavioral effects may
feel like they cancel each other out. Cocaine is a stimulant, and many of its
effects, like increased heart rate, cause the body to need more oxygen. But heroin, a depressant,
slows breathing— reducing the body’s oxygen supply just
when it needs more. This combination strains the organs and
can cause respiratory failure and death. The interaction between grapefruit juice
and certain medications in class of cholesterol-lowering drugs
called statins, has to do with drug metabolism. The liver produces enzymes, molecules that
facilitate the breakdown of substances that enter the body. Enzymes can both activate drugs, by breaking them down into their
therapeutic ingredients from more complex molecules,
and deactivate them, by breaking harmful compounds down
into harmless metabolites. There are many, many different enzymes, each of which has a binding site that
fits a specific molecule. Grapefruit binds to the same enzyme
as statins, making less of that enzyme available
to break down statins. So combining the two means that a
greater concentration of the drug stays in the bloodstream for a longer
period of time, potentially causing kidney failure. Alcohol can also alter the function of the
enzyme that breaks down Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in pain relievers
like Tylenol and paracetamol. When someone takes Acetaminophen, some
of it is converted into a toxic substance. At the recommended dose, there isn’t usually enough of this toxic
byproduct to cause harm. But heavy drinking can alter enzyme
activity so more of that byproduct is produced, potentially causing liver damage even with what’s usually a safe dose of
acetominophen. Meanwhile, the herbal remedy Saint John’s
Wort increases the liver’s production of a particular enzyme. That means the drugs this enzyme is
responsible for breaking down get metabolized faster— sometimes too fast, before they can
have their therapeutic effects. In spite of the dizzying number of
possible interactions, most of the dangerous interactions
with commonly used drugs are well known. And new developments in science are
helping us keep better track of drug interactions than ever. Some researchers are developing AI
programs that can predict the side effects of drug interactions before they occur, using information about the landscape
of protein interactions within your body. For the new drugs that are being developed
all the time, supercomputers are being used to find
potential interactions while those drugs
are still in development.

100 thoughts on “The dangers of mixing drugs – Céline Valéry

  1. What about alcohol and ritalin? I hear they're dangerous together, which is disappointing because even with mild ADHD I want to be extra sure that if I decide to drink, I won't be more, troublesome.

  2. As easy as abc…
    Just Ask your pharmacist for all your requirements !!
    PS :thank you Ted-Ed for this beautiful and well explained animation !

  3. It is the responsibility of the doctor to let the patients aware of those interactions. If not patients should consult sites like for safety administration

  4. A lot of people dismiss aspiring when ask about medication because is so common but how little they know that taking a blood thinner before any procedure is dangerous.

  5. Always love the various animations in your videos but this one takes the cake! I particularly enjoyed the creative way of displaying enzymes! Both amusing and educational!

  6. Throw back to when I overdosed on travel sickness pills to see if they would function as sleeping pills on my 28-hour bus ride. They did.

  7. What about the one who takes 4 tabs of acid, smokes weed, drinks, xanax, and huffs nitros oxide at the same time? Oh just me?… damn

  8. This website is pretty legit (as a Medicinal Chemist), and the user interface is quite friendly for those who need it! The URL below shows the interactions for acetaminophen. Click the 'interactions checker' tab and key in the name (commercial or chemical are both fine)!,tylenol-index.html

  9. “Which one of these three people are doing the bad thing?” Laughs maniacally.

    “All three.” Says without hesitation.

    “Wait what?” Sad face. “You weren’t supposed to get that.”

  10. Nice to see my biopharmaceutical degree confirmed in the first minute.
    For those wondering whether 2 drugs (or a drug and something else, sunbathing, grapefruits, some herbs) have a known interaction: ask your pharmacist. They, in general, know more about drugs and drug interactions than MDs. Heck, oftentimes they are obligated to tell you / should have picked a suitable 2nd drug to suit your medications.

    If you have the feeling your drugs have a side effect (or interaction) also let your national agency for adverse effects (FAERS for the US) know, It helps identify and solve these intricate problems. You can likely also ask your GP for help in this regard.

  11. yeah i’m not allowed grapefruit because it would give me a “stomach ache” with my meds but i ignored it because grapefruit is my favorite fruit and i was willing to eat it even if i had aches, boy was i wrong

  12. well, its a good thing this covers three extremily specific examples instead of commonly found illicit drugs that are easier to find and mix dangerously

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