Hydrocodone And Alcohol: Effects, Dangers, And Consequences

Hydrocodone is a powerful pain reliever that can lead to dependence and overdose. When hydrocodone is mixed with alcohol, the risk of addiction increases. Mixing these two drugs can lead to health consequences that include seizure, coma, and death.

Hydrocodone and other prescription opioids influence the central nervous system. This can cause a person to feel drowsy and fatigued. Hydrocodone may be prescribed after surgery or dental work.

Hydrocodone should not be mixed with alcohol or other drugs that depress the nervous system. If a person mixes hydrocodone with alcohol, they will be highly sedated and at risk for major health concerns.

The consequences of mixing hydrocodone and alcohol can be severe. Mixing these two drugs can lead to dependence and addiction. If a person takes these two drugs together, they are also at an increased risk of overdose. Hydrocodone and alcohol overdose can be fatal.

What Happens When You Mix Hydrocodone And Alcohol?

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid that causes a feeling of well-being and relaxation. When mixed with alcohol, the pleasant effects of hydrocodone may be amplified.

If a person takes hydrocodone over any length of time, they are at risk for developing a tolerance. This means they need higher and higher doses of the drug to get the same effects. People who are prescribed hydrocodone may drink alcohol to draw out the drug’s relaxing effects.

Hydrocodone binds to opioid receptors in the brain, and reduces feelings of pain. This painkiller can also lead a person to feel extremely tired. Similarly, alcohol works as a central nervous system depressant and slows down a person’s breathing and heart rate.

Because both of these drugs work to sedate the body, mixing alcohol and hydrocodone can be hazardous to a person’s health.

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Effects Of Hydrocodone And Alcohol

While both of these drugs can lead to sedation, hydrocodone and alcohol can cause different reactions within the body. If a person mixes these two powerful substances, the side effects from each drug could be more severe.

Hydrocodone can cause uncomfortable side effects, even if taken as prescribed. Mixing this drug with alcohol could cause a person to experience dangerous and uncomfortable symptoms.

Side effects of hydrocodone and alcohol include:

  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • decreased awareness
  • altered judgment
  • semi-consciousness, or nodding out
  • unconsciousness, or passing out
  • delirium or hallucinations
  • compromised motor skills
  • insomnia
  • slowed breathing
  • vomiting
  • weak pulse
  • overdose

Taking hydrocodone with alcohol is especially risky, because of the risk of losing consciousness.
When a person is not fully conscious, they may find themselves in unsafe situations or questionable environments.

Dangers Of Hydrocodone And Alcohol

Hydrocodone and alcohol are both are considered to have a high potential for abuse. This means it’s easy for a person who uses these drugs to become addicted.

Some people may think it’s no big deal to have a few drinks while taking hydrocodone. However, this drug combination could lead to dependence, addiction, and permanent damage to the body.


When a person is taking regular doses of hydrocodone, their body will likely become dependent on the drug. When a person is drug-dependent, they require the substance in order to function normally.

Even though it’s viewed as being socially acceptable, alcohol can also cause dependence and addiction. A person who mixes hydrocodone and alcohol has the potential to become physically dependent on both of these substances. If they stop using suddenly, they may experience withdrawal.


Taking hydrocodone with alcohol can quickly lead a person down the path of addiction. When a person is addicted, they have a physical dependence as well as a mental craving for more of the drug.

People who mix two mood-altering substances are at an increased risk for developing an addiction. When a person is addicted to hydrocodone and alcohol, they continue to use the substances despite negative financial, social, or medical consequences.

Organ Damage

When a person takes hydrocodone and alcohol, the drugs typically get processed by the liver. Repeatedly exposing the stomach and digestive tract to alcohol (a toxin) can cause conditions such as liver damage, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.

Alcohol abuse can also increase a person’s chance of experiencing a mental illness, such as depression.

Consequences of Hydrocodone And Alcohol Abuse

Taking hydrocodone with alcohol comes with serious consequences. People who are intoxicated may break the law, drive under the influence, or engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex.

Mixing these two substances also increases a person’s chance of unconsciousness or coma. Being unconscious makes a person vulnerable to a host of dangerous situations.

Taking hydrocodone with alcohol can also cause a person to overdose. In 2017, opioids like hydrocodone were involved in nearly 48,000 overdose deaths.

Combining hydrocodone with alcohol greatly increases a person’s chance of overdose. Both of these drugs slow down a person’s breathing pattern — and stopped breathing is the number one cause of fatal overdose.

Signs of a hydrocodone and alcohol overdose include:

  • slow or irregular breathing
  • mental confusion, stupor
  • seizure
  • clammy skin
  • low body temperature
  • blue or gray skin
  • irregular pulse
  • difficulty remaining conscious
  • inability to wake up
  • coma

If someone close to you experiences any of the symptoms of alcohol or hydrocodone overdose, call 911 immediately.

Hydrocodone And Alcohol Withdrawal And Detox

Hydrocodone and alcohol are both highly addictive. If a person is dependent on either of these drugs, they may need professional help in order to stop using.

While opioid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, it is not usually life-threatening. However, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and should always take place in a medically supervised environment.

Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:

  • anxiety
  • bone and body aches
  • runny nose
  • excessive sweating
  • tearing eyes
  • yawning
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • goosebumps
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • agitation
  • depression
  • irritability
  • jumpiness
  • mood swings
  • nightmares
  • mental fog
  • clammy skin
  • headache
  • change in skin color (pallor)
  • racing heart
  • shaking hands
  • seizure
  • hallucinations

Because of the severity of these symptoms, people struggling with hydrocodone and alcohol abuse should consider enrolling in a medical detox program.

In a medically supervised detox program, patients are supervised as they go through the withdrawal process. A team of medical professionals ensures that patients stay rested and stabilized.

Some medical detox programs also offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT may include medications that relieve withdrawal symptoms and help to prevent relapse.

Treatment For Hydrocodone And Alcohol Abuse

Thousands of Americans are struggling with hydrocodone and alcohol abuse. Fortunately, rehab centers across the U.S. specialize in treating both opioid and alcohol addiction.

In an inpatient rehab center, patients have access to on-site detox programs and individual and group counseling. Once a person successfully detoxes, they are provided with addiction education and relapse prevention strategies.

To learn more about the effects, dangers, and consequences of taking hydrocodone and alcohol, reach out to one of our treatment specialists today.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Drug Overdose Deaths

U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus - Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal

U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus - Hydrocodone

U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus - Alcohol Withdrawal

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Alcohol's Effects on the Body

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Alcohol's Damaging Effects On The Brain

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