Prescription opioid medications are widely used to address severe pain and chronic pain symptoms. Many people begin to misuse or abuse prescription pain medications like oxycodone (OxyContin) in combination with alcohol, which can carry dangerous results.
Opioid addiction to prescription pills like oxycodone or Percocet is often tied to heavier substance use involving strong opiates like heroin and fentanyl. Opioid drug use along with other depressants like alcohol can lead to addiction, respiratory depression, and death.
Dangers Of Mixing Oxycodone With Alcohol
When taken together, oxycodone and alcohol amplify the depressant impact on the central nervous system. Long-term substance abuse may also damage critical organ systems like the heart and liver.
Because a person may develop a tolerance to both alcohol and opioids like oxycodone, they may experience very strong and potentially deadly withdrawal symptoms.
Effects Of Alcohol And Oxycodone
Oxycodone’s primary use is for pain relief after surgery or to manage chronic pain. People use opioid painkillers recreationally or habitually to experience feelings of calm, euphoria, and dulled perceptions.
Short-term side effects of oxycodone use include:
- slowed heart rate
- low blood pressure
- respiratory depression
- fluid pressure in the brain and spine
Similarly, alcohol creates feelings of relaxation and calmness through central nervous system depression that can be physically addictive. The combination of alcohol with oxycodone creates an “enhanced” high that complicates side effects.
Short-term side effects of alcohol use include:
- lowered blood pressure
- poor coordination
- blurred vision
- reduced breathing
- reduced heart rate
Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol Abuse And Oxycodone Abuse
Sustained use of alcohol with opioids like oxycodone may lead to addiction, where an increased risk of serious health problems like overdose, organ failure, and death may occur.
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Increased Risk Of Opioid Overdose
People that drink heavily along with opioid use or while mixing opioids may be at an increased risk of overdosing. Because alcohol slows down respiration and heart rate, the effects of opioids may overwhelm the system, and cause the body to overdose.
Symptoms of an opioid overdose include:
- loss of consciousness
- slow, shallow breathing, or no breathing
- weak pulse and heartbeat
- gurgling or choking noises
- pinpoint pupils
These life-threatening side effects may lead to permanent brain damage and death.
Increased Risk Of Addiction And Withdrawal
Both alcohol and oxycodone may become both psychologically and physically addictive. People that have alcohol use disorder or abuse opioids may develop physical dependence, which carries very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Physical dependence on a substance can make it dangerous to not use the substance for a prolonged stretch of time without proper medical supervision.
Some signs of oxycodone addiction include:
- panic attacks
- mood swings
Withdrawal symptoms associated with oxycodone dependence may happen after as little as six hours. Sweating and anxiety are common early symptoms. When combined with alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms from both may compound.
People may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- panic attacks
- trouble sleeping
- muscle aches
- high blood pressure
- elevated heart rate
- mood swings
Drinking a large amount of alcohol for an extended period of time or very intensely can cause serious effects on the body. Combined, extended opioid abuse will only worsen these effects on the liver, brain, kidneys, and heart.
Common types of organ damage that can result from taking alcohol and opioids together include:
- heart disease
- cirrhosis and liver fibroids
- increased risk of stroke
- high blood pressure
- memory loss
- learning trouble
- poor attention span
- continuous sedation
- cancer of the throat, kidney, and liver
Addiction Treatment For Oxycodone And Alcohol Abuse
If you or a loved one are suffering from opioid or alcohol addiction, there is help available. Drug addiction, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, can leave you feeling isolated.
Our team of treatment specialists can help you find treatment options to facilitate recovery from opioid use and alcohol addiction. From inpatient treatment to outpatient therapy, there are a number of quality treatment options for your needs and lifestyle.
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Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Medscape — Oxycodone
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) — Harmful Interactions: Mixing Medicines with Alcohol
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Alcohol Management as Harm Reduction