Mixing Opioids & Alcohol

Mixing opioids and alcohol can have serious consequences.

Alcohol reduces oxygen flow to your body.
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Overdosing slows your breathing rate, which can cause you to lose consciousness, lead to a coma, or even cause death. That’s because overdosing reduces oxygen flow to the brain, which triggers your organs to shut down. Many prescription drugs are slow-releasing, which means that even users who seem okay at first risk overdosing in their sleep as opioids continue to enter their bloodstream.

Some prescription opioids, like Vicodin, also contain acetaminophen, which can damage your liver if taken in large doses. Combining Vicodin with alcohol lowers the threshold at which acetaminophen becomes toxic to the body and significantly increases your risk of liver damage. Beyond liver damage, mixing alcohol and any opioid with acetaminophen in it can cause:

  • Cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeat, and even cardiac arrest
  • Breathing difficulties during sleep
  • Memory problems
  • Constipation
  • Difficulties in sexual functioning
Mixing alcohol and opioids can have other severe consequences. They are both depressants, so mixing them can actually amplify the risk of overdose. Bottom line is that taking prescription opioids with alcohol is extremely risky.