What Happens When You Mix Alcohol And Fentanyl?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 22, 2023

Alcohol and fentanyl can both be very dangerous when abused on their own, and the risks of each increase when they are used together. There can be a number of negative side effects, and the risk of overdose becomes dangerously high.

Alcohol And Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful and potent synthetic opioid that is prescribed for treating severe pain or chronic pain.

However, because fentanyl can be very addictive and is often misused or abused, it is only used as a painkiller after all other prescription medications for pain relief have been unsuccessful.

Someone who is prescribed fentanyl by their healthcare provider will have restrictions to follow, including avoiding the use of alcohol.

Both alcohol use and fentanyl use can be dangerous by themselves, but when used together the dangers increase drastically.

Fentanyl drug interactions can range from moderate to severe depending on factors such as the health of the person using the drug, tolerance level, and more.

The Effects Of Mixing Alcohol With Fentanyl

Both alcohol and fentanyl are central nervous system depressants that can have a wide range of negative side effects.

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Side Effects Of Alcohol

The side effects of alcohol abuse can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • slurred speech
  • blurred vision
  • impaired reflexes
  • alcohol-induced glassy eyes
  • sleepiness
  • frequent urination
  • coordination problems
  • breathing problems
  • loss of consciousness

Side Effects Of Fentanyl

The side effects of fentanyl are somewhat similar to those of alcohol and may include:

  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • hallucinations
  • decreased heart rate and blood pressure
  • slowed breathing or trouble breathing
  • loss of consciousness

Both alcohol and fentanyl have side effects of trouble breathing and loss of consciousness, which are particularly risky and can result in coma or death.

The Risks Of Mixing Alcohol With Fentanyl

Alcohol abuse tends to amplify the effects of any other drugs or substances that it is used with, and fentanyl is no exception.

Potential For Negative Interactions

Alcohol and fentanyl are both central nervous system depressants, and using them together will heighten the effects of both.

Side effects such as sedation and trouble breathing are ones that both substances share, and can be even more troublesome when used in unison.

For instance, a person may lose consciousness much faster while using both drugs than they would while only using one of them at a time.

Increased Risk Of Drug Overdose

It takes a very small amount of fentanyl to overdose, as little as two or three milligrams in an average-sized adult male.

Because alcohol amplifies the effects of fentanyl, it would take even less fentanyl to cause a fatal overdose.

Both alcohol poisoning and fentanyl overdose are life-threatening situations that require immediate medical attention.

Symptoms Of A Fentanyl-Related Overdose

Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of a fentanyl-related overdose could potentially save a person’s life.

Pinpoint Pupils

An overdose can cause a person’s pupils to become very tiny and small as the flight or fight response is triggered in their brain.

Decreased Respiratory Rate

One of the most obvious signs of a fentanyl overdose is slow and shallow breathing, as well as struggling to breathe. This is known as respiratory depression.


A person who is having trouble breathing during an overdose may also make choking or gurgling sounds as they struggle to breathe.

Clammy Skin

Cold and clammy skin can result as a lack of oxygen flow starts to occur throughout the body during an overdose.

Loss Of Consciousness

During a fentanyl overdose, a person may lose consciousness and become very difficult, if not impossible, to wake up.

Changes In The Color Of Lips Or Nails

Because of a lack of healthy oxygen flow in the blood, someone who is overdosing on fentanyl may develop lips or fingernails that are blue or purplish in color.

Responding To A Fentanyl-Related Overdose

A fentanyl overdose can turn fatal quickly so it is important to know the signs of an overdose and act fast if you ever witness or experience one.

Naloxone (Narcan) Administration

Naloxone is considered a fentanyl overdose antidote because it blocks opioid receptors in the brain and can prevent a fatal overdose.

This life-saving medication can be administered by injection and also comes in a nasal spray under the brand name Narcan.

Contact First Responders

Calling emergency services should always be the first step anytime someone is overdosing on fentanyl or any other substance.

Naloxone only works temporarily for 30 to 90 minutes, and someone who experiences a fentanyl overdose will still need medical care and possibly multiple doses of naloxone.

Other Substances That Should Never Be Mixed With Alcohol

Alcohol can also be very dangerous when used with other drugs and substances as well.


Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, are also depressants that can be extremely dangerous when taken with either alcohol or opioids.

As a result of the combined depressant effects, mixing benzos and alcohol may quickly result in a fatal overdose.


The term narcotics represents opiates and opioids. All opioids, regardless of how potent they are, should be considered dangerous to use along with alcohol.

Examples of narcotics include oxycodone and heroin. Opioid overdose is much more likely to occur when mixed with other depressants such as alcohol.


Stimulants produce the opposite effects of alcohol and fentanyl, but that does not mean that the opposing effects will cancel each other out in any way.

Instead, using stimulants and depressants together will amplify the effects of both and increase the risks from both drugs. Mixing alcohol and stimulants may lead to an overdose death.

Addiction Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Fentanyl Abuse

Withdrawal symptoms for fentanyl addiction are not life-threatening, but the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol addiction can be.

It is never recommended that a person try to go through detox on their own from the combination of fentanyl and alcohol.


The detox process for both alcohol and opioids usually involves medications that make the process more comfortable and minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Not only can this help to prevent relapse, but alcohol or fentanyl detox ensures there are always medical professionals on hand in case something goes wrong.

Inpatient Treatment

Residential drug treatment can be the right choice for people with more severe addictions who need 24/7 support and medical monitoring.

Inpatient treatment programs may include mental health services, dual diagnosis treatment, counseling, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment for fentanyl use or alcohol addiction allows people to access detox and therapy at their own convenience, without any interruption to their work or school.

FAQs About Fentanyl And Alcohol Use Disorders

The useful information below may answer your questions about mixing alcohol and fentanyl together.

No, fentanyl test strips are intended to be used with solid substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs.

Yes, alcohol and fentanyl use while pregnant or breastfeeding can lead to detrimental consequences to the fetus or to the newborn baby.

Illicit fentanyl can blend in easily with other substances, particularly when they’re mixed with powders or counterfeit pills.

Sometimes, fentanyl can be identified by trained personnel through look or taste.

Find Substance Abuse Treatment Today

If you are in search of professional addiction treatment for either yourself or a loved one, there are many rehab centers that are accepting new clients as soon as today.

Whether you just have questions right now or you are ready to get started, please do not hesitate to call our helpline anytime.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 22, 2023
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