DEAR HARRIETTE: With the sudden death of Prince and the potential that prescription drugs had something to do with it, my whole friend group is rattled. We are, of course, saddened about him, but even more, we secretly use a lot of these drugs for pain.
One of my girlfriends has chronic back pain, and I know she takes a hefty dose of oxycodone. Another is on antidepressants. And I sometimes have to take pain medicine for different reasons. All of us have occasionally taken these medications with a glass of wine.
I'm scared now about how much it takes to actually overdose. I always thought it was taking a handful of pills, like if you wanted to die. Now I'm learning that it is much more subtle than that. How can I bring this up to my friends to help protect us? -- Pill Threshold, Washington, D.C.
DEAR PILL THRESHOLD: Start by talking directly with your doctor about the medications you are taking and the risks involved in altering the usage in any way as well as the effects that alcohol may have on them in your body. This is critical. Every person reacts differently to medicine, so you must find out about your own body to be safe.
As far as your friends go, you can share whatever you learn from your doctor and encourage them to visit their physicians. Generally speaking, whenever the warning on a medication says not to consume alcohol with it, you shouldn't do it. Period. If you can't help yourself, it is time to seek medical help immediately.