Taking oxycodone together with alcohol can have very dangerous consequences. This is because both drugs are depressants. Combining the two can have a synergistic effect, meaning that the effect of both drugs together is greater than when they’re used separately.
Oxycodone is prescribed for pain relief. Depending on the type of tablet, it can control pain for up to 12 hours as a time-release medication. This means the effects of this medication are released over a longer period of time rather than all at once.
The potency of oxycodone has been compared to morphine. It works through the central nervous system to alter our response to and perception of pain. In addition to reducing pain, Oxycodone may affect the body in the following ways:
- slowed heart rate and breathing
- low blood pressure
- increased pressure of fluid in the brain and spine
Because oxycodone can also cause sensations of pleasure or euphoria, it’s also highly addictive. Regulatory agencies have long been concerned by just how addictive it is. As far back as the 1960’s, organizations such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime classified it as a dangerous drug.
Alcohol is not used for medicinal purposes. Individuals consume alcohol primarily for its mood-altering effects. Alcohol works through the central nervous system and depresses or slows functioning of various parts of the brain.
When you drink alcohol, some is metabolized by your body. If you consume more than your body can process, the extra collects in your blood and travels to your brain. Effects of alcohol on the body include:
- slowed reflexes
- reduced breathing and heart rate
- lowered blood pressure
- impaired ability to make decisions
- poor coordination and motor skills
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of consciousness
Oxycodone and alcohol taken together can have serious consequences. The effects of mixing them can include slowing or even stopping of breathing or the heart, and can be fatal.
How often do people mix oxycodone and alcohol?
Substance abuse, including that of opioids and alcohol, continues to be a health concern in the United States. In fact, addressing addiction and opioids is listed as one of the U.S. Surgeon General’s top priorities.
Approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). About 130 people in the United States die each day from overdosing on opioid drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
mixing oxycodone and alcohol, a serious problem
- Alcohol was involved in
22 percentof deaths and 18 percentof emergency room visits that involved misuse of prescription opioids in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Over 50 percent of teens that misuse opioids reported combining opioids and alcohol during a one-year period, according to NIDA.
- According to a recent study in the journal, Anesthesiology, combining alcohol with oxycodone led to a significant increase in the number of times participants experienced a temporary stop in breathing. This effect was particularly pronounced in elderly participants.
signs of addiction
- having an intense urge for a drug that competes with other thoughts or tasks
- feeling as if you need to use a drug frequently, which can be daily or even several times in a day
- requiring more and more of a drug to obtain the same desired effect
- using drugs has begun to affect your personal life, career, or social activities
- spending a lot of time and money or engaging in risky behavior to obtain and use a drug
- experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking a drug
There are several treatments available for oxycodone or alcohol addiction. The first stages of treatment include detoxification. This involves safely helping you to stop taking a drug.
You may experience withdrawal symptoms during this process. Since these symptoms can be severe, you may need to detox in a medical setting under the supervision of medical professionals to help ensure your safety.
symptoms of withdrawal from oxycodone and alcohol
The physical symptoms of withdrawal from oxycodone and alcohol can be severe. Here are the most common:
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle aches and pains
- flu-like symptoms (chills, runny nose, and other)
- panic attacks
- rapid heartbeat
- high blood pressure
- shaky hands or full-body tremors
- confusion, disorientation
- delirium tremens (DTs), a life-threatening condition that produces hallucinations and delusions
Depending on your individual situation, your treatment plan could be either outpatient or inpatient. You stay at your home during outpatient treatment while you stay at a rehabilitation facility during inpatient treatment. Your healthcare provider will work with you to discuss your options, the pros and cons of each, and how much they may cost.
You may find that you utilize a combination of some of the most common treatment methods.
Behavioral therapy or counseling
This type of treatment can be performed by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or addiction counselor. It may also occur individually or in a group setting. Goals of treatment include:
- developing methods to cope with drug cravings
- working on a plan to prevent relapse, including how to avoid drugs or alcohol
- discussing what to do if a relapse does occur
- encouraging the development of healthy life skills
- covering issues that may involve your relationships or job as well as addressing other mental health concerns
Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone can be used to help treat addiction to opioids such as oxycodone. They work by binding to the same receptors in the brain as oxycodone, therefore lowering withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Another medication, called naltrexone, blocks opioid receptors completely. This makes it a good drug to help prevent relapse, although it should only be started after someone has completely withdrawn from opioids.
Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medications to help treat alcohol addiction —naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram.
Joining a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, can also help you to get continued support and motivation from others that are trying to recover or have recovered from drug addiction.
When to go to the ER?
Combinations of opioids, alcohol, and even other drugs are
often presentin fatal opioid overdoses. If you or a loved one is experiencing the following symptoms after mixing oxycodone and alcohol, you should seek emergency medical care immediately:
- contracted or small “pinpoint” pupils
- very slow, shallow, or even no breathing
- being unresponsive or losing consciousness
- weak or absent pulse
- pale skin or blue lips, fingernails, or toenails
- making noises that sound like gurgling or choking
Many support resources are available to help with treatment or support if you or someone close to you has a drug addiction.
where to find help
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline (1-800-662-4357) provides information and referrals to treatment or support groups 24/7 and 365 days of the year.
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA) supplies information and organizes support group meetings for people trying overcome addiction.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides help, information, and support for people with an alcohol use disorder.
- Al-Anon provides support and recovery for the family, friends, and loved ones of people that have an alcohol use disorder.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) gives various resources and up-to-date news and research on various drugs of abuse.
An addiction counselor can help you or someone close to you cope with and overcome addiction. Here are a few questions to help you select an addiction counselor:
questions for a counselor
- Can you please tell me a little bit about your background and credentials?
- How do you perform your initial assessment and diagnosis?
- Can you please describe to me your treatment approach?
- What will the process involve?
- What are your expectations for me as well as for my family during treatment?
- What happens if I relapse while in treatment?
- What’s your estimate of the costs involved in treatment and will my insurance cover it?
- If I choose you as my addiction counselor, how soon can we begin the treatment process?
Both oxycodone and alcohol are depressants. Because of this, mixing the two can lead to potentially dangerous and even fatal complications, including loss of consciousness, stopped breathing, and heart failure.
If you’re prescribed oxycodone, you should always be sure to follow your doctor or pharmacist’s directions carefully, and take it only as prescribed.
Oxycodone is highly addictive, so you should be aware of the symptoms of addiction in yourself or a loved one. In the event of opioid or alcohol dependence, there are a variety of treatments and support groups available to help overcome addiction.