Dangers Of Mixing Oxycodone And Alcohol
Mixing oxycodone and alcohol can have dangerous effects on the body and put you at higher risk for overdose. This is also a sign of substance abuse, which may require inpatient treatment.
Oxycodone is a powerful opioid that can provide effective relief for moderate to severe pain. It is also very addictive and may be commonly abused with alcohol or other types of drugs. Abusing more than one addictive substance is known as polysubstance abuse.
Alcohol and oxycodone are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Mixing both of these depressants can cause exaggerated effects. This can be dangerous and could lead to slowed or stopped breathing, and other harmful effects on the body. In the most serious cases, it can be fatal.
People who use oxycodone should not drink alcohol while taking the drug. Those who abuse oxycodone and alcohol may need treatment to overcome their polysubstance abuse.
How Does Oxycodone Work?
Oxycodone, also known by the brand name Oxycontin, contains chemicals that are capable of relieving intense pain. Oxycontin can come in several forms, including an extended-release capsule or tablet for pain relief throughout the day.
Oxycodone is an opioid, which means it binds to certain receptors in the brain known as opioid receptors. Through its effects on the brain, oxycodone modifies a person’s sensation of pain. It can also impact mood.
Some other side effects may include:
- dry mouth
- stomach pain
- mood changes
Serious side effects can also occur with oxycodone, although these are less common when taken as prescribed:
- changes in heart rate
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of a part of the body
High doses of oxycodone can produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation. These effects are one of the most common reasons the drug is so widely abused. Although legal forms of oxycodone can only be acquired through a prescription, illegal forms of Oxycontin may also be sold on the street.
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Side Effects Of Mixing Oxycodone And Alcohol
Oxycodone and alcohol on their own can pose several health risks. Mixing the two substances can pose even greater danger. Both alcohol and opioids depress the central nervous system, which controls functions like heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.
Side effects of mixing oxycodone and alcohol can include:
- slowed or difficult breathing
- impaired motor control
- memory problem
- unusual behavior
Drinking alcohol while taking oxycodone can put someone at a high risk for overdose. This danger is magnified when the substances are used in excess. That is, taking high doses of opioids and drinking heavy amounts of alcohol.
Overdose occurs when too much of one or more substances enters a person’s system and causes harmful symptoms. The most serious problem that can occur when mixing alcohol and opioids in the short term is respiratory depression. This occurs when someone’s breathing slows dangerously, or stops.
In severe cases, overdose can be fatal. Severe overdose symptoms can also cause permanent brain damage and coma.
Symptoms of oxycodone and alcohol overdose include:
- slow or labored breathing
- excessive drowsiness
- dilated or constricted pupils
- cold, clammy skin
- weak muscles
- nausea and vomiting
- low body temperature
- loss of consciousness
The medication Narcan (naloxone) can treat symptoms of opioid overdose if it is used right away. Some states allow Narcan to be dispensed at pharmacies without a prescription. This can allow family members and friends concerned about a loved one’s opioid use to have this treatment on hand.
This is not a permanent fix, however. In the event of drug overdose, emergency assistance should be contacted right away.
Long-Term Health Risks
Oxycontin and alcohol are both addictive substances that can pose serious short and long-term health risks.
Some long-term effects of opioid and alcohol abuse include:
- liver or kidney damage
- respiratory issues
- heart problems
- increased risk for certain cancers (alcohol)
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
Chronic opioid and alcohol abuse are also likely to lead to dependence and addiction.
Dependence And Addiction
Chronic use of oxycodone, or taking it in high doses, can lead to drug dependence. This occurs when your body adapts to the presence of the drug in your system. For this reason, oxycodone and other opioids are generally not advised for long-term use.
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States. As many as 15 million adults are estimated to be struggling with alcohol use disorder. Mixing heavy drinking with alcohol can create severe dependence on both substances.
Addiction is a serious and complex disease that cannot often be traced back to a single cause. The reasons for abusing addictive substances can vary. People may sometimes turn to drugs to deal with emotional problems or other life stressors. Addiction can also have genetic factors and be more common in families with a history of substance abuse.
When someone does become addicted to opioids and alcohol, it can be difficult to stop using them alone. One of the reasons for this is the intense and sometimes dangerous symptoms of withdrawal.
Oxycodone And Alcohol Withdrawal
Opioid withdrawal can cause distressing physical and mental symptoms. However, withdrawing from opioids alone is rarely life-threatening. Alcohol withdrawal can pose more dangerous symptoms. Without medical supervision, severe alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.
Abusing both oxycodone and alcohol can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms. The intensity and types of symptoms experienced may depend on the severity of someone’s alcohol and opioid dependence.
Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include:
- muscle and bone pain
- cold flashes
- strong cravings
- uncontrollable leg movements
Alcohol withdrawal can cause additional symptoms:
- mood swings
- dilated pupils
- loss of appetite
- rapid heartbeat
Severe alcohol withdrawal, known as delirium tremens, can result in seizures, hallucinations, and confusion.
Detoxing from these substances can be dangerous to attempt alone. The safest way to quit alcohol and oxycodone is medically-supervised detox.
Medical supervision can be important for withdrawing from severe opioid and alcohol dependence. Under the care of medical specialists, patients can be monitored and receive treatment for symptoms of withdrawal as needed.
Doctors can also keep patients hydrated during this process. Dehydration and severe symptoms such as seizures are some of the primary concerns during detox.
After completing detox, doctors will often recommend additional care within an inpatient treatment program.
Treatment For Polysubstance Abuse
Addiction does not disappear after completing detox. For many people, recovery from opioid and alcohol abuse can be a lifelong process. Staying sober can be difficult for people who have struggled with chronic abuse of these substances.
Inpatient treatment for polysubstance abuse can provide support and structure that are beneficial in the early stages of recovery. These supportive, substance-free environments often offer treatments designed to teach patients how to cope with drug and alcohol cravings.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can also be effective for treating opioid and alcohol addiction. For the best outcomes, MAT can be combined with behavioral therapies that focus on emotions, healthy behaviors, and providing motivation for staying sober.
Learn how you can get help for you or a loved one by contacting one of our specialists today.Article Sources
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism - Harmful Interactions: mixing alcohol with medicines, Alcohol Facts and Statistics
National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus - Oxycodone
National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus - Alcohol Withdrawal
National Institute on Drug Abuse - DrugFacts: Prescription Opioids