Substance Use

Mixing Hydrocodone and Alcohol: Can You Drink on Hydrocodone?

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What Are The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a prescription pain reliever used to treat chronic pain and coughing. Mixing prescription painkillers like hydrocodone with alcohol is not only dangerous but can also be deadly. People who use a combination of these substances may suffer from extreme sedation, confusion, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, alcohol poisoning, or opioid overdose.

Are you trying to quit opioids? Zinnia Health offers a safe and successful path to sober living. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to start the next step to sobriety.

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Can You Drink on Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a Schedule II opioid. As a type of opioid drug, you should never combine hydrocodone with alcohol.

Schedule II opioids are drugs with a high potential for abuse, often leading to psychological and physical dependence. Although hydrocodone is available in its pure form, it is usually prescribed with a co-ingredient, acetaminophen. This medication binds to the opioid receptors in your brain, resulting in analgesia (the inability to feel pain) and euphoria.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, combining alcohol and drugs has negative consequences. For example, using hydrocodone or alcohol together increases the risk of long-term health effects, including mental and physical health.

Over time, they can cause:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Hypertension
  • Cancer
  • Learning and memory issues
  • Dementia

Hydrocodone is available under brand names like Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco. If you have been prescribed hydrocodone in any form, ask your healthcare provider before drinking alcohol. 

How Long After Taking Hydrocodone Can You Drink Alcohol?

You should wait at least 24 hours after taking hydrocodone before you consume alcohol. This is to ensure that your body has as much time as possible to flush the drug out of your system.

If you drink while taking opioid painkillers, even accidentally, you should consult with a medical professional to ensure you do not experience any severe side effects.

Zinnia Health offers inpatient detox programs and counseling services to help those with addiction live a clean and fulfilling life. You don’t have to face it alone. Call us today at (855) 430-9439 for more information.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Hydrocodone?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in 2017 due to increased opioid medication use. Since that day, more than 10.1 million people have misused opioids, with more than 70,630 dying from an overdose. This crisis is only exacerbated by combining opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone with alcohol.

Some of the reasons why a person may combine alcohol with hydrocodone include:

  • To intensify the sedative effects of alcohol
  • To deepen the sense of relief that comes with hydrocodone
  • To help them sleep, especially if they’re dealing with severe pain

Combining alcohol with hydrocodone is a form of substance abuse and it can quickly lead to a substance use disorder, more commonly referred to as addiction. Aside from impacting mental and behavioral health, drug and alcohol abuse also poses a number of serious risks, like a higher potential for opioid overdose along with long-term effects such as liver damage.

Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Hydrocodone with Alcohol?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, polysubstance use (i.e., mixing hydrocodone with alcohol) also increases the risk of overdose and death. In fact, 1 in 7 opioid deaths is caused by mixing alcohol with opioids like hydrocodone.

Within a few hours of mixing these substances, a person will experience the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to breathe
  • Brain damage
  • Heart damage
  • Death

Hydrocodone affects the central nervous system (CNS) by depressing its functions. Taking this medication with another CNS depressant – like alcohol – can lead to immediate complications, like profound sedation and severe respiratory depression.

In turn, this can lead to permanent damage to the brain, heart, and other organs, potentially leading to organ failure.

These life-threatening interactions are just a few examples of why mixing hydrocodone with alcohol is dangerous.

What Can Happen if You Drink on Hydrocodone?

The depressive effects of alcohol and hydrocodone can lead to the sudden onset of risky behaviors due to impaired judgment. This could lead to unprotected sex, syringe use or sharing syringes, and driving under the influence.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says that combining drugs with alcohol increases the risk of reckless driving and car accidents, which could prove fatal for you and others on the road.

Hydrocodone and alcohol also come with several other adverse effects and contraindications that affect every system in the body, including:

  • Respiratory: Hydrocodone may cause severe respiratory depression, making breathing difficult. This symptom increases the likelihood of developing respiratory tract infections.
  • Cardiovascular: In addition to suppressing the respiratory system, hydrocodone also lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate and swelling of the limbs (peripheral edema).
  • Neurological: Hydrocodone may cause headaches. It also causes the user to become unusually fatigued, including drowsiness and sedation. For some, hydrocodone triggers insomnia, anxiety, and dizziness. You may even feel chills.
  • Dermatologic: Some people develop itchy skin, leading to skin rashes while using this medication. You may also experience extreme sweating (diaphoresis).
  • Gastrointestinal: Gastro upset may develop from using hydrocodone. This includes vomiting, stomach pain, and gastrointestinal tract infection (gastroenteritis).
  • Genitourinary: Hydrocodone can cause inflammation in the urinary tract. This may cause urinary retention, which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.
  • Otic: You may experience audible disturbances (tinnitus) or sensorineural hearing loss while using this medication.

What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol with Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone and alcohol together lead to intense central nervous system depression, which might look like heavy intoxication. However, if someone has taken too much of either substance, it can rapidly lead to drug or alcohol toxicity.

The warning signs of overdose include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Blue lips
  • Fingernails that are purple or blue
  • Unresponsiveness
  • No signs of breathing
  • Slow heart rate or no heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cannot speak
  • Vomiting or making gurgling sounds

If you notice any of these signs following the consumption of alcohol and hydrocodone, call 911 immediately. 

How to Get Help For a Hydrocodone Addiction

People who abuse drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two require assistance to stop using them safely. Both alcohol and hydrocodone risk addiction, resulting in painful withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. This can cause a person to relapse or overdose.

If you’re wondering how to get help for addiction, here are some of your options:

  • Seek out a residential rehab center that has a helpline you can call to discuss your case confidentially
  • Speak with a loved one about your addiction so that they can help you find treatment centers in your area
  • Ask your doctor about outpatient recovery programs so that you can quit while still living at home
  • Explore mental health support groups and other outpatient programs that you can attend on your own time

No matter what your circumstances are, there are caring, judgment-free professionals standing by to help. If you’re ready to take the next step, call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.

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