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Drugs and Alcohol


With an expanded social life comes the potential for exposure to unsafe activities, such as drinking alcohol and drug use. Talking to children and teens about the dangers of alcohol and drugs from an early age is important.

There are additional risks of drinking and drug use to individuals with a bleeding disorder. They need to be aware of these risks, which include making infusions more difficult to perform and increased likelihood for risk-taking. Parents need to learn the signs of drug and alcohol use and how to intervene.

This section of Next Step provides:

  • The Facts About Drugs and Alcohol
  • The Signs of Drug and Alcohol Use

Drugs and Alcohol

Drugs and alcohol affect the body in a variety of ways. Drug and alcohol use is dangerous for all children and teenagers, but can often be more so for children and teens with bleeding disorders.

As a parent, what you say and do have a tremendous influence on the decisions your child makes—especially when it comes to using drugs or alcohol. Talk with your children about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol before they begin experimenting with use.

Here are some of the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use for someone with a bleeding disorder:

  • Drugs and alcohol can impair judgment and coordination, blur vision, and slow reaction time. Let children know that if they take drugs or drink alcohol and get hurt, they'll be less able to help themselves.
    • They may have difficulty seeking medical attention or may not remember who to call or their list of important phone numbers. Also, they may not be able to explain their condition to others or to medical personnel. If emergency medical personnel or emergency room staff don't know about your child's bleeding problem, they won't know how to properly care for him/her.
    • When someone is less coordinated and has slow reflexes, it's harder to self-infuse. In addition alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose water. This can lead to dehydration, making it more difficult to see and find a vein to self-infuse.
  • There are the obvious dangers when excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol are used. These can include injury, either from loss of balance or consciousness. Being drunk or high can weaken inhibitions and judgment and can lead to risky behavior, like fighting and dangerous stunts. Drinking and driving is a crime and is very dangerous. Your teenager could end up in a car accident, which also greatly increases risk of injury and severe bleeding.
  • Similar to aspirin, even moderate amounts of alcohol can affect blood clotting. In essence, alcohol becomes a blood thinner.
    • Interactions between drugs, including bleeding disorder medications, may be unknown and could be harmful and even life threatening.
  • Alcohol is a depressant drug and can intensify feelings of depression or suicide.
  • Alcohol abuse can damage the liver. If a person has a virus, such as hepatitis C, or is HIV-positive and taking antiretroviral drugs, drinking alcohol increases the risk of severe liver damage.
  • Most drugs and alcohol can be addictive. Addiction to any drug or alcohol is debilitating. Most often, using drugs or alcohol is not a one-time event. Kicking any habit is hard, and adding addiction to that habit makes quitting very difficult. If a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol and is ready to stop, there are numerous programs available to help.
  • Ingesting various drugs, including tobacco and alcohol, can irritate the stomach lining and cause cancer and other health problems.
  • Minimum age laws dictate when a person can legally use alcohol and tobacco. The use of recreational drugs, such as marijuana, barbiturates, amphetamines, etc., is illegal and can result in serious legal consequences.