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Mixing Alcohol and Opioids

The combination of alcohol and opioids can be deadly, and leads to hundreds of accidental overdoses each year. Opioids (like oxycodone), are powerful chemicals commonly used in the treatment of acute pain-related injury. They work by binding to opioid receptors to block or diminish perceptions of pain. Mixing alcohol with opioids causes severe respiratory problems among other numerous health concerns. Some of the more popular opioids used in clinical treatment include morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, codeine, methadone, and heroin. When these drugs are taken in conjunction with alcohol, they further inhibit activity in the central nervous system, slow down breathing, and can eventually cause complete system failure.

In addition to the immediate physical dangers, the mixture of alcohol and opioids can also critically affect judgment and motor skills and cause cognitive impairment. People often start off abusing alcohol and opioids because of the calming and relaxing effects of both drugs. Many fail to realize the extreme dangers that come with simultaneous ingestion. The widespread proliferation of prescription painkiller abuse combined with the national alcoholism epidemic has made the combination of opioids and drinking one of the fastest-growing addiction problems in the country.

Alcohol and Opioid Interaction

Drinking greatly increases the depressive and inhibitory effects that opioids and other narcotic painkillers have on the central nervous system. Additionally, drinking can dramatically increase the general urge for opioids. The chemical interactions between ethanol in alcohol and both long and short-acting opioids are dangerously unpredictable.

Health risks often include:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Severe headache/migraine
  • Organ malfunction
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations

It’s become commonplace for teenagers to mix opioids with alcohol. The effects of oxycodone, as well as all other opioids, are dramatically enhanced by the presence of alcohol in the system and lead to blackouts, potentially fatal slips or falls, coma, and even death.

BHOPB’s Treatment for Alcohol and Opioid Dependency

We’ve developed a specialized comprehensive treatment program that allows clients to get quality treatment for their simultaneous addictions. The complex chemical interactions between opioids and alcohol require expert medically supervised detoxification. Our behavioral health-based treatment explores the possible root causes of patients' addictions. This holistic approach provides our patients with the necessary tools to develop their inner personal strength and awareness to maintain a healthy life free of drugs and alcohol.

Mixing alcohol and opioids is one of the most dangerous and quickly growing addiction epidemics in the nation. This practice leads to hundreds of overdoses annually. Opioids (such as morphine and oxycodone) are generally used to alleviate acute pain, working by blocking the brain’s perception of pain. When alcohol is added to the mix, the result can include respiratory failure, severe headaches, cardiac arrest, memory loss, hallucinations and/or organ malfunction. The two drugs combine to inhibit activity in the central nervous system, while drinking greatly magnifies the depressive effects of opioids.

Mixing alcohol and drugs simultaneously puts users if danger of organ failure, hallucinations, respiratory problems and damage to the heart and central nervous system. The combination may also trigger unintended side effects of prescription or illicit drugs. The professionals at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches have developed a unique course of treatment to help patients with multiple addictions.

If you’re ready to change you or your loved one's life, contact us at (888) 432-2467 to get started today!

Infographic: Mixing Alcohol and Opioids

infographic warning of the danger of mixing alcohol & opioids with one another
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Sources: 
  • Drug Court Program Office, US Department of Justice
  • Centers for Disease Control
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse