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, once 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.


  1. As a pharmacy student I’m currently learning about drug interactions and pharmacokinetics, so this is really helpful for me! Thanks Ted-ed

  2. I wish there were a mechanism by which antagonist drugs have additives that while ingested together just induce retching and vomit to avoid accidental drug poisoning.

  3. It is actually very very dangerous the worst case scenario is actually the average case scenario thats how my father died

  4. Great video 😀 and important topic since ther is alott of natural medicine that can helps but can actually dammage if you take human made medicine, i remember that 1 specific makes antidepresant less effective, it kind of works like the anti medicine used for overdose on opiate`s 🙂 School worth vide this is same with the how does you boddy process medisine. 🙂

  5. I love drug interactions. They can also be beneficial! And wow, what a wonderfully animated show today. I love the style and narrative that lay in these animations.

  6. Oh my god i have been watching your videos since a year now i love your videos and i feel very good when i watch your videos about science because it makes us see that how much insignificant we are but significant enough to know this. Thank u

  7. Thank you TED. Talk about timely info! Yesterday I was discharged to home on my 6th day in the hospital, after being admitted to ER with a GI blood loss. I ook a blood thinner for A-Fib and this caused a catastrophic blood loss, requiring 8 units of blood after 2 units of saline in the ambulance. BP 30/0 before the saline. I was on 8 prescription meds in addition to the blood thinner. I added Tylenol and CBD on my own. The bleed source was not found after scoping the stomach and colon. So no blood thinner. Jus baby aspirin from now on. This message is very rea, with life and death consequences,

  8. Maybe there is some professional under you here, who explain me this experience. Laughing Gas has its own effect. LSD has its own effects. They are not even close to similar. However, if taken together these two multiply each other like crazy. I had the most intensive hallucinations after taken laughing gas during a trip. It only last some seconds. Can anyone explain this?

  9. Even though I already knew all the content, I watched this anyway because the animations of these ted-ed videos are always so interesting and fun. This video in particular did a great job of simplifying concepts to make it more intuitive/remorable or understandable even for someone without a pharmacy background. Great job!

  10. Like ayashuasca, thats from 2 different plants that do nothing but when combined, one plant releases the dmt from the other one.

  11. So important our environment faces a similar onslaught from narrow focus studies for example using fertilizers and pesticides is a dif. Impact than using alone all testing and regulation is based on single use…..

  12. Many people are asking about the link between alcohol and acetaminophen/paracetamol. Alcohol induces the enzyme CYP2E1. This enzyme is what metabolises paracetamol into its toxic NAPQI metabolite. Thus, inducing this enzyme (through alcohol consumption) means that more toxic NAPQI metabolite is formed even with low dose paracetamol. That's why alcohol should be avoided. Source: Im a pharmacist!

  13. When I try to look up how weed interacts with other drugs I'm taking:

    Google: more research is needed
    Yahoo: lol idk ¯_(ツ)_/¯
    Bing: take another hit, bruh
    Me: ok, cool

  14. As a med student, came here to day that grape fruit juice sucks.
    Also an additional warning about st. John's Wart, it interacts with OCPs (oral contraceptive pills) and can decrease their efficacy (ability to work) so means you're more likely to get pregnant if you combine the two.

  15. A friend of mine often takes coffee and medicine instead of water. I need to show her this video. Btw, this animation is really good. I love it 🙂

  16. Being a pharmaceutical employee it's vital for industry to do the pharmvigilance work before a medicine is release onto the market

  17. also don't ever take xanax and alcohol at the same time. both affect the GABA neurotransmitter in different ways – alcohol simulates GABA, while xanax makes your body more receptive to GABA. the effects can vary wildly if you take both – taking a shot of alcohol and a dose of xanax can either feel like taking 2 shots of alcohol at the same time, or 20 at the same time. can lead to terrible liver problems in some cases

  18. we literally just went over this in my intro to pharmacology class, you couldn't have uploaded this at a more perfect time.

  19. I use the website/app Drug Interaction Checker. Very useful for specific and medical data on it. Google also works but is more work sometimes.

  20. I am so looking forward to the horror movie and/or game based on an imagined future where medical simulations are so good that it’s essentially human testing.

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