June 11 (UPI) -- Binge drinking and prescription opioid misuse are a dangerous combination for many Americans, new findings show.
Between 2012 and 2014, half of the 4.2 million people in the United States misused prescription opioids while binge drinking, according to a new study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
"We are losing far too many Americans each day from overdoses," said Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a news release.
Binge drinking for women is the consumption of four or more alcoholic beverages during a sitting, and for men is considered consumption five or more.
Prescription opioid misuse occurs when a person uses the drugs without a prescription or for illicit uses, including "the feeling the drug causes."
Young people had the highest rates of prescription opioid misuse, according to the study. However, 2 in 3 binge drinkers who also misused prescription opioids were older than age 26.
As a strategy to reduce binge drinking, the CDC recommends limiting how many places can sell alcohol in one neighborhood, enforcing legal liabilities for places illegally serving underage or intoxicated people and establishing a cut off time past which alcohol can't be sold.
Strategies to slow down prescription opioid use could include to the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
Recommendations from the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest drinking in moderation -- that's one drink a day for women and two a day for men. The guidelines recommend no drinking at all for women who are pregnant and for people who take prescription opioids or any other drug that interacts with alcohol.
"Combining alcohol and opioids can significantly increase the risk of overdoses and deaths," Redfield said.