DrugCocktails.ca helps youth ‘get the facts’ about the risks of mixing medicine, booze & drugs

Dr. Dean Elbe, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist & Cocktails Project Researcher on September 25, 2013

It isn’t easy being a teenager.  It can be even harder when you have a health condition or illness that you take medication for regularly.

it’s a fact that young people sometimes experiment with using substances like alcohol, marijuana or street drugs. While there are risks with any substance you put in your body, those risks can be even worse when you are taking one or more medications on a regular basis. You may have questions about whether it is safe to mix alcohol with an antidepressant medication. Or maybe it’s Saturday night, and you may be thinking about smoking marijuana with your friends, but at the same time you are taking medications to prevent rejection of your kidney transplant. Until now, there wasn’t really a place you (or your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or counsellor) could turn to for clear, reliable answers about the risks of these medication-substance “cocktails”.

But that’s where www.DrugCocktails.ca can help. This beautifully designed, first-of-its-kind website was made by pharmacists, nurses and doctors specifically for young people who take medications regularly. The site help you get the facts about what can go wrong when medications and substances are mixed.  

It’s so easy to use - just type the name of a medication you take into the search bar on the site. it does its best to help you with the spelling of those medication names, but look on the bottle or prescription label if you aren’t sure.  A list of 10 different categories of substances (along with their nicknames and street names) pops up. There are warning icons that show you at a glance whether there are serious risks with the combination. Then just click the MORE [+] sign to learn the risks of a chosen medication-substance combination. The site also has information about commonly used substances, how they work and what the risks are to your health that you need to think about in order to make an informed choice.

One of the best things is that you can visit the DrugCocktails.ca website privately – this could be at home, at the library, or on your tablet or smartphone. You might have questions about substances, but have been scared to ask your parents, doctor or other professionals because you don’t want them to know that you are experimenting with taking substances. Well, there is a giant HIDE THIS button on the top corner of every page on the site. You can click this button in case someone comes along and you don’t want them to see what you are looking at (clicking the button takes you to Google). And, if you use your browser’s private or incognito mode to view the site, when you are finished there will be no record in the history that you ever visited DrugCocktails.ca (and we sure won’t tell. In fact, we can’t – we never collect any of your personal information). Best of all, DrugCocktails.ca is free!

Make sure you don’t change how you take your prescription medications based on information on the DrugCocktails.ca website – doing this without your doctor’s permission can lead to bad effects as well. Always talk with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before you change how you take your medications.


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BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

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