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The Dangers of Using Oxymorphone with Alcohol

Dr. Gerardo Sison

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Gerardo Sison

March 29, 2019

Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in the United States. Even on its own, alcohol can present many dangers as well as a high risk of dependency and addiction. However, when it is mixed with other drugs like oxymorphone, these risks can increase dramatically. Alcohol can intensify oxymorphone’s effect on the body exponentially, resulting in potentially fatal side effects.

It is not uncommon for individuals to consume alcohol on a regular, casual basis. For example, a glass of wine or a beer with dinner is a socially accepted amount of alcohol, and considered a casual consumption. Even this small amount of alcohol can result in serious complications when it comes to the effect of oxymorphone on your body’s nervous and respiratory systems. To understand why this combination can be so dangerous, you first need to understand how both drugs affect your body independently.

What Is Oxymorphone?

Oxymorphone is an opioid analgesic that is only available with a prescription from a licensed physician. Oxymorphone is typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain that is chronic in nature. Typically it is not a first choice for physicians to prescribe for chronic pain, but rather an option that a patient may be switched to after building a tolerance to other potent opioid analgesic medications.

Generally, opioids that are designed for chronic pain treatment, such as oxymorphone, are intended to be taken on a consistent and regular basis. This means that you would typically take your dose every day around the same time regardless of what your pain level is. These doses generally come in the form of extended-release capsules, and their effects can last up to 10-12 hours.

Recently, however, oxymorphone has come out with an immediate-release version of their medication. Immediate-release capsules are intended to be taken on an ‘as-needed’ basis. For this type of pain regiment, you would take your dose of oxymorphone if your pain worsened or was at a level of significant discomfort. Immediate-release capsules can begin to work within 30 minutes, and their effects can last up to four hours. Immediate-release opioid capsules are the most commonly abused opioids because of their fast-acting effects and increased potency compared to extended-release capsules.

Drugs such as oxymorphone are beneficial when managing long-term or chronic pain because instead of providing relief at the onset of pain, they provide continuous relief of pain symptoms. This method allows chronic pain patients to live as normal of a life as possible while still controlling their pain levels. Chronic pain management, however, also holds a high possibility of addiction and dependency on the drugs prescribed for the pain management.

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What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is a seemingly difficult substance addiction to define for many individuals. As a legal and easily accessible drug, the dangers of alcohol are often underplayed. Disregarding the dangers of alcohol, or drinking in a manner that is potentially harmful to yourself or others, is considered a form of alcohol abuse. Those who abuse alcohol are likely to take risks while drinking, and ignore basic responsibilities such as getting into work on time or spending time with their families.

Drinking and driving is a good example of alcohol abuse. While this does not necessarily indicate an individual is an alcoholic, it is an extreme risk that could end in someone being hurt or killed, or at the very least jail time and fines. Other examples of risks taken by someone who abuses alcohol can be getting into fights while drinking, calling into work sick the next day from a hangover, or mixing alcohol with other drugs and prescription medications such as oxymorphone.

Alcohol abuse can have devastating consequences, but it is possible to turn things around before you end up getting hurt or damaging your life. Alcohol abuse is defined by an individual’s behavior surrounding the consumption of alcohol, which means changing your behavior as it is associated with alcohol consumption can help you get out of this cycle. This can be as simple as removing alcohol from your everyday routine or choosing relationships and activities that are not associated with drinking. Mixing alcohol with oxymorphone is dangerous, and it is a sign of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol And Oxymorphone: A Deadly Combination

As with other opioid analgesics, it is very possible to overdose when taking oxymorphone. Because opioids can directly inhibit your body’s natural ability to breathe and provide oxygen to the brain, an overdose of oxymorphone can be deadly. Some signs of an oxymorphone overdose include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Decreased respirations or breathing
  • Increasing drowsiness, inability to stay awake
  • Coma

Alcohol can drastically increase these effects when combined with oxymorphone. On its own, alcohol can have its own dangerous set of side effects when taken in excess. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can have a tranquilizing effect on your body’s vital functions. Alcohol can slow your heart rate and breathing rate, as well as cause you to lose fine motor function and slur your speech. This is what is being displayed when you see an intoxicated individual stumble, or trip while attempting to walk.

Side Effects Of Opioid And Alcohol Abuse

Mixing alcohol with opioids such as oxymorphone can have immediate, sometimes deadly, risks. Even if these risks do not pose an immediate threat in a specific circumstance, continued abuse of alcohol and oxymorphone can lead to dangerous side effects down the road. Decreased respirations, or slowed breathing, is one of the most dangerous side effects of mixing alcohol and oxymorphone.

The short term side effects of mixing alcohol and oxymorphone include:

  • Intense feeling of euphoria
  • Difficulty breathing or shallow breathing
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness, especially when standing up
  • Coma

Side effects that occur as a result of prolonged or long-term abuse of alcohol and oxymorphone can have much more serious consequences. These side effects can include heart failure, amnesia, blackouts, kidney disease, and brain damage. Often times, once an individual reaches this level of alcohol/opioid abuse, the results cannot be reversed and some permanent damage may remain even after the alcohol and opioid abuse is stopped.

Get Help Today

Potent opioids like oxymorphone can be extremely dangerous and are so strong that they can feel impossible to stop without professional help. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse or opioid addiction, seeking help is your best chance for a full recovery.

Our addiction treatment specialists are specifically trained to help you find the best possible recovery option that will fit your needs and beliefs. Your call is 100% confidential, and our specialists are standing by around the clock. Get started on your road to recovery, pick up the phone and call today. - Opana (oxymorphone) and Alcohol / Food Interactions

U.S. National Library of Medicine - The Effects of Ethanol

Oxford Academic - Pain Medicine - An Analysis of the Root Causes for Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

US Department of Justice - Oxymorphone

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