Substance Use

Mixing Codeine and Alcohol: Can You Drink on Codeine?

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Codeine and Alcohol Substance Abuse

Codeine is a prescription drug classified as an opioid and is primarily used as a pain reliever and cough suppressant. Sometimes, it can still be found in over-the-counter cough syrups and cold medicines, but its wide availability puts it at a high risk of misuse.  

Combining codeine with a substance like alcohol is one way codeine can be abused, especially by recovering addicts and teenagers who have limited access to other substances. However, despite their accessibility, mixing codeine and alcohol can prove deadly. 

If you or a loved one is experimenting with substances and mixing alcohol with codeine, it’s important to seek help. Contact Zinnia Health on our website or call us at (855) 430-9439 for more information. 

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What Are The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Codeine?

Codeine is a cough suppressant that’s often misused. In order to intensify the effects, some people mix codeine with alcohol, but the result can be dangerous, leading to side effects such as:

  • Respiratory distress
  • Permanent organ damage
  • Overdose
  • Death

Combining drugs for their sedative effect is also a sign of a serious substance use disorder, which shouldn’t be ignored.

Can You Drink on Codeine?

Codeine is a type of opiate, which means it is derived from the opium poppy plant and can be habit-forming. Combining alcohol with an opiate like codeine can increase the risk of serious side effects the speed the development of addiction.

If you are taking any painkillers like codeine, speak to your healthcare provider before drinking alcohol. When combined, the NIH notes that it takes the body longer to dispose of either substance and there is significantly increased risk of toxicity (overdose). As such, you should try to avoid alcohol altogether when taking codeine.

How Long After Taking Codeine Can You Drink Alcohol?

You should wait at least 24 hours after taking codeine before you drink alcohol. This is to ensure that as much of the drug as possible is out of your system to avoid potentially dangerous side effects. If you are taking codeine with a prescription, ask your healthcare provider about whether or not is is safe to drink in moderation while on the drug.

Do you need help taking the next step in recovering from drug abuse? Zinnia Health can help. Reach out to our addiction specialists today by calling (855) 430-9439 and learn more about our treatment center.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Codeine?

One of the most significant examples of widespread codeine misuse is “DJ Screw,” a hip-hop DJ associated with an illicit cocktail that combined cough medicine with alcohol. The cocktail, sometimes called “Texas Tea” or “Sizzurp,” enhanced the slowed-down, brass-heavy remixes the DJ was famous for.

Pop culture icons continue to perpetrate codeine abuse in young adults. To this day, rappers like Lil Wayne still promote the cocktail in their music. Unfortunately, most are unaware of the effects of codeine and alcohol use.

Mixing codeine with alcohol is extremely dangerous and not something to take lightly. The DJ himself died from an overdose caused by codeine and alcohol in 2000, but people continue mixing alcohol with codeine, usually unaware of its potential dangers.

Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Codeine with Alcohol?

The primary reason mixing alcohol with codeine is so dangerous is that both codeine and alcohol are depressants. The combination of the two puts stress on the central nervous system, as they both dampen mood, alertness, and energy. Together, they can slow breathing to dangerous levels. 

Codeine is still sometimes used in the treatment of cough, usually in conjunction with other medications. However, codeine has been largely replaced with other drugs in cold and cough medicines due to rampant misuse. When used for mild to moderate pain, codeine is considered safe only for short-term use.

Chronic misuse of codeine can rapidly lead to dependence, tolerance, and overdose. When a person addicted to this drug attempts to stop taking it, they may experience intense codeine withdrawal symptoms.

What Can Happen if You Drink on Codeine?

Individuals mixing alcohol with codeine will experience a number of short-term side effects. These side effects can put an individual at severe risk of bodily harm through an accident, especially if they try to operate a motor vehicle. The side effects mimic excessive alcohol use but are far stronger.

The most common side effects include:

  • Sleepiness, drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness
  • Impaired thinking and judgment
  • A sense of mental fog, confusion, and trouble concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased and irregular heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Impaired motor skills and delayed reaction time

Especially when combined with alcohol, codeine can make a person breathe shallower or less often and they will likely be too impaired to realize it. This would further reduce the amount of oxygen being supplied to the brain and body. Therefore, it can worsen impairment and lead to permanent organ damage.  

All of these side effects put individuals at an increased risk of bodily injury when mixing alcohol with codeine. It also increases the risk of overdose as impaired judgment can lead them to consume excessive amounts of either. Alcohol addiction can also result from the repeat combination of codeine and alcohol.

In the long-term, low blood pressure, liver damage, and changes to behavioral health are all possible. Existing mental illness can also worsen the side effects of codeine and alcohol.

What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol with Codeine?

Mixing alcohol with codeine can lead to permanent side effects, including organ damage. Chronic misuse of codeine can also rapidly lead to dependence, tolerance, and overdose.

When a person addicted to codeine attempts to stop taking it, they may experience intense withdrawal symptoms that could increase risk of relapse.

Withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

During withdrawal, an individual is at high risk of opioid overdose due to the complexities of the detox process. For a highly addictive drug like codeine, an inpatient or residential treatment program may be recommended. These programs immerse individuals into a safe space with like-minded individuals, full-time support, and dedicated treatment staff.

A residential program won’t just help you recover from codeine addiction and get through the withdrawal period. It can also help you get back on your feet and begin working towards a new set of goals.

These programs provide you with goal setting, planning, and supports. As a result, a residential treatment program can greatly reduce the risk of relapse and long-term psychological effects resulting from drug use and recovery.

How to Get Help For a Codeine Addiction

Codeine misuse is substance abuse, especially when a person is combining it with alcohol. It’s critical that you don’t ignore the signs of codeine use and that you get the right information on alcohol rehab and addiction treatment before deciding how to proceed.

The best treatment facilities today offer state-of-the-art programs, evidence-based care, and personalized pathways that conform to each individual’s unique needs and challenges.

When looking for a facility, search for one with:

  • A combination of inpatient and outpatient programs to make the transition into and out of treatment easier
  • Assistance with co-occurring disorders, including PTSD and anxiety, to help you navigate the complex recovery process and ensure your lasting success
  • Experience working with young people and members of the LGBTQ community, and an environment that feels safe and welcoming to everyone
  • On-going after-care, including text support, for people who have completed a treatment program

Are you looking for a confidential treatment program that can help you overcome prescription drug addiction or get your alcohol consumption in check? Zinnia Health can help. Call our team today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about your treatment options.

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