Can You Mix Vicodin and Alcohol?

mixing Vicodin and alcohol

Opioid abuse is troubling in the United States, with more than 10 million people admitting to misusing opioids in 2022. Nearly three-quarters of all drug overdose deaths involved an opioid, resulting in more than 80,000 deaths last year.[1]

Many opioids, like Vicodin, are prescribed to treat pain after surgery or medical procedure or to manage chronic pain. These drugs are meant for short-term use because of their high risk of abuse and addiction. However, many people–even those taking prescription Vicodin–develop irregular patterns of use that lead to dependence.

Opioid misuse is harmful, resulting in short- and long-term consequences for people’s mental and physical health. These effects are amplified when people combine opioids with other substances, including alcohol.

Alcohol is widely available, and most American adults consume it from time to time. But the dangers of mixing commonly-prescribed opioids like Vicodin and alcohol can be deadly. It’s important to understand the risks of combining Vicodin and alcohol and seek treatment for substance abuse as soon as possible.

If you or someone you love mixes Vicodin and alcohol, or you want to explore other substance abuse treatment programs, reach out to the team at Moving Mountains Recovery today.

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is the brand name for a prescription drug made from a combination of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) and hydrocodone.[2] Doctors may prescribe Vicodin to help patients manage pain after a dental or medical procedure. While it is an effective pain reliever, Vicodin also causes euphoria, increasing its potential for abuse.

Hydrocodone is an opioid that slows pain messages between the body and brain. It depresses activity in the central nervous system (CNS), such as breathing, heart rate, and some brain function.

Some of the effects of Vicodin include:[3]

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Reduced blood pressure

In rare cases, Vicodin users may experience unusual thoughts, abnormally slow heart rate, confusion, or fainting. People with these or other unwanted side effects must tell their doctor immediately.

Vicodin and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination

 

Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

 

It is very dangerous to mix opioids like Vicodin with alcohol. Vicodin and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow down the activity in the brain and nervous system. The CNS is responsible for essential functions such as breathing and heart rate. If people mix Vicodin and alcohol, CNS activity can become too slow, resulting in shallow breathing–or no breathing at all. As a result, consuming alcohol while taking Vicodin is extremely dangerous.[4]

Common effects of mixing Vicodin and alcohol include:

  • Increased drowsiness or sedation
  • Impaired coordination and motor skills
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Enhanced risk of accidents and injuries
  • Respiratory depression
  • Increased risk of overdose
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Liver damage
  • Worsened cognitive impairment
  • Negative impact on decision-making abilities
  • Heightened potential for addiction
  • Impaired judgment
  • Memory problems
  • Increased potential for addiction development
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cardiovascular risks

Mixing Vicodin and alcohol can also lead to other types of respiratory distress, such as:

  • Heavy breathing
  • Pale or bluish skin around the mouth or fingers
  • Clammy skin or sweating
  • Constricted airways that cause shallow, insufficient breathing

People who drink alcohol while taking Vicodin are at risk of extreme sedation. They may become overly sleepy and find it hard to wake up. People may experience severe confusion. Ongoing Vicodin and alcohol use may lead to liver damage as the liver processes both substances. Mixing alcohol and prescription opioids can also result in stress and damage to the lungs that can be permanent.

People who take Vicodin or other opioids must avoid consuming any amount of alcohol and seek treatment if they show symptoms of dependence or addiction.

Recognizing Vicodin Dependence

One of the dangers of mixing alcohol and Vicodin is that it can increase the risk of dependence and addiction. Vicodin and other drugs that contain hydrocodone are highly addictive. These potent drugs can alter a person’s brain chemistry, making them want to use them in greater quantities or differently than prescribed. Even when someone takes Vicodin with a prescription, it’s essential to watch for signs of misuse and dependence.

Some signs of Vicodin misuse include:

  • Taking it for longer than prescribed
  • Taking it without a prescription
  • Using Vicodin differently than prescribed, such as crushing and snorting it
  • Taking larger doses of Vicodin than prescribed
  • Taking it more often than your doctor told you to
  • Having multiple prescriptions for Vicodin with more than one doctor
  • Feeling anxious if your supply is running low
  • Spending a lot of time and energy thinking about, getting, and using Vicodin
  • Neglecting hobbies, relationships, or responsibilities because of Vicodin use
  • Needing to take more to get the desired effects
  • Facing legal or financial trouble related to Vicodin use
  • Continuing to use Vicodin even though it causes problems

Once a person has developed a dependence on Vicodin, they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. These symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Tremors
  • Body aches
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Chills

These symptoms may be so uncomfortable that people relapse–meaning they begin taking Vicodin again–before their body can detox. Many people require a medically-supported, supervised detox program to have safe, complete detoxification. After detox, people must participate in a comprehensive Vicodin addiction treatment program to address the emotional, physical, and behavioral roots of their substance misuse.

No one chooses to become addicted to Vicodin, and anyone can develop a problem–even those without other risk factors for addiction. It’s important to watch for the signs of Vicodin abuse and addiction and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Understanding Alcohol Addiction

People who suffer from alcohol addiction may find it difficult to stop drinking, even when they are prescribed medications that they should not consume with alcohol. Common signs of alcohol addiction are:

  • Increased Tolerance – Needing more alcohol to achieve the desired effect or experiencing diminished effects from the same amount.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms – Experiencing physical symptoms such as tremors, nausea, sweating, and anxiety when attempting to stop or cut down on alcohol consumption.
  • Loss of Control – Inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed or unsuccessful attempts to quit.
  • Unsuccessful Quitting Attempts – Trying to quit or cut back on alcohol multiple times without success.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities – Failing to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use.

If you think you are suffering from alcoholism, please contact Moving Mountains Recovery today to discuss your treatment options.

Find Help for Vicodin and Alcohol Abuse Now

If you or someone in your life mixes Vicodin and alcohol, reach out to the team at Moving Mountains Recovery now. Our holistic treatment programs are designed to help people work through the complexities of substance use while learning how to live a fuller, healthier life in sobriety.

Don’t wait another day for the help you need. Call today to take the first step of your recovery journey.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Provisional Data Shows U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Top 100,000 in 2022, Retrieved August 2023 from https://blogs.cdc.gov/nchs/2023/05/18/7365/
  2. Food and Drug Administration: Vicodin, Retrieved August 2023 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/088058s027lbl.pdf
  3. Drug Enforcement Administration: Hydrocodone, Retrieved August 2023 from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf
  4. National Library of Medicine: Alcohol and Opioid Use, Co-Use, and Chronic Pain in the Context of the Opioid Epidemic: A Critical Review, Retrieved August 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5832605/
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