October 27, 2023

Oxycodone and Alcohol: Can You Mix Them?

a man sits looking out a window to represent the dangers of mixing oxycodone and alcohol.
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If you are mixing alcohol with drugs like oxycodone or any prescription medication, it can have severe consequences, and it is vital to understand the risks associated with this combination.

Alcohol on its own can trigger adverse effects, and when consumed alongside prescription medications like opioids, the consequences can be even more dangerous.

Opioid medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine are potent prescription painkillers that are derived from opium poppy alkaloids. These medications can be highly effective for managing chronic pain or post-operative pain when used correctly. When these drugs are abused or taken in combination with alcohol, though, they can pose a significant threat to your health and well-being.

The dangers of combining alcohol and opioids are manifold. Alcohol can intensify the effects of opioids, causing respiratory depression, dizziness, and confusion. This combination can also lead to an increased risk of life-threatening overdose.

This guide explores the following issues:

  • Can you drink alcohol while taking oxycodone?
  • What are the effects of beer or wine and oxycodone?
  • How can you connect with treatment for oxycodone and alcohol addiction?

a man hold a drink in his hand and a pill to represent oxycodone and alcohol.

Alcohol and Oxycodone

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can have powerful effects on the mind and body. It is one of the most commonly consumed substances worldwide, and it can be found in a variety of different forms, including beer, wine, and liquor.

When consumed in moderation, alcohol can have some positive effects on the body, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, when consumed in excess, alcohol can be highly addictive and can cause a range of health problems, including liver disease, high blood pressure, and increased risk of certain cancers.

Oxycodone (Oxy) is a powerful prescription opioid that is used to manage moderate to severe pain. OxyContin, a branded form of oxycodone, was one of the primary drivers of the U.S. opioid epidemic.

Oxycodone works by attaching to mu-opioid receptors in the brain and preventing pain signals from reaching the rest of the body. As a Schedule II controlled substance, Oxycodone has some medical utility but strong potential for abuse and addiction. The medication can trigger a range of adverse effects, including respiratory depression, dizziness, and confusion. Like alcohol, oxycodone can be highly addictive. Oxy abuse is associated with addiction (opioid use disorder), overdose, and other health complications, both short-term and long-term.

Can you drink alcohol and oxycodone, then?

Dangers of Drinking on Oxycodone

Every person feels the effects of alcohol and oxycodone differently. There are many variables impacting how you might tolerate a substance. Your age, weight, gender, and tolerance all play a part in determining how your body will metabolize alcohol and other substances like oxycodone.

Here are some common side effects induced by drinking to excess:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Impaired decision making
  • Loss of coordination and motor skills
  • Reduced breathing rate
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slow reflexes and reaction time

Oxycodone is also associated with a variety of side effects similar to those you experience when you drink too much alcohol. These include:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Diminished strength
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Low energy levels
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Slow breathing
  • Breathing stopped

If you use oxy and alcohol at the same time, the side effects of each substance are magnified. These effects of alcohol and oxycodone can be both short-term and long-term.

Short-Term Side Effects

Short-term side effects of combining Oxycontin and alcohol include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Motor skill impairment
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Loss of memory
  • Marked drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Inability to operate a vehicle
  • Increased risk of overdose
  • Uncharacteristic behavior

Drinking while on oxy can be seriously damaging to your health. Even misusing one of these substances can be problematic, but oxycodone mixed with alcohol can be deadly.

Long-Term Side Effects

Some of the long-term health risks linked to chronic alcohol abuse include:

  • Brain atrophy
  • Higher risk of liver cancer
  • Gastritis
  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Cirrhosis
  • Memory loss
  • Liver inflammation
  • Increased risk of some cancers

With oxycodone, long-term users quickly build a tolerance to opioids. This means that more and more of the drug is required to achieve the same effect. Sometimes, the feeling induced by oxycodone no longer feels like enough, and the person starts using harder drugs to get the same high. For many who use oxycodone, heroin is the natural progression. For others, they start mixing oxycodone with alcohol to increase the effects of each.

Beyond this, oxycodone suppresses areas of the brain responsible for controlling breathing. If you introduce alcohol into the equation, the likelihood of overdose increases exponentially.

Mixing Alcohol and Painkillers Together

Mixing alcohol and painkillers together can be a dangerous combination that can lead to serious health risks, including overdose and death. Painkillers such as opioids, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine, can be highly addictive and potentially lethal when taken in combination with alcohol.

When alcohol is mixed with painkillers, it can increase the effects of the medication and cause drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, and slowed breathing. These effects can be particularly dangerous when driving, operating heavy machinery, or performing other tasks that require alertness and concentration.

Additionally, the liver is responsible for breaking down both alcohol and painkillers, and the combination of these substances can put a significant strain on the liver, leading to liver damage and even failure in some cases.

If you are taking painkillers for pain management, it’s important to avoid drinking alcohol or to limit your alcohol intake as much as possible. Always follow your doctor’s instructions and take your medication exactly as prescribed.

a person is standing with their head in their hands to represent the dangers of mixing oxycodone and alcohol and opioids and alcohol.

Opioids and Alcohol

Mixing alcohol and opioids and alcohol is a potentially dangerous combination that can lead to severe health risks, including overdose and death. Opioids, such as prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin, are central nervous system depressants that slow down breathing and heart rate. Alcohol is also a depressant that can intensify the effects of opioids, causing respiratory depression, which can be fatal. 

The combination of opioids and alcohol can also lead to impaired coordination, confusion, dizziness, and an increased risk of falls or accidents. Additionally, both opioids and alcohol can cause liver damage, and combining these substances can increase the risk of liver problems.

People who are addicted to opioids and alcohol are at a higher risk of overdose and death. The simultaneous use of these substances can impair judgment and increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors that could lead to fatal outcomes.

It’s essential to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with opioid and alcohol addiction. Treatment may include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and support from peer groups. If you or someone you know is experiencing an opioid or alcohol overdose, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Remember, it’s never too late to seek help and begin the journey to recovery.

Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction, clinically described as opioid use disorder, is a chronic and potentially life-threatening condition characterized by the compulsive use of opioids despite the negative consequences it causes. Opioids include prescription painkillers like fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.

According to DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, revised fifth edition), a person must exhibit at least two of the following eleven symptoms within a 12-month period to be diagnosed with opioid use disorder:

  1. Taking opioids in larger amounts or for a longer time than intended.
  2. Having persistent cravings or a strong desire to use opioids.
  3. Failing to reduce or control opioid use despite attempts to do so.
  4. Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from opioid use.
  5. Failing to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to opioid use.
  6. Continuing to use opioids despite negative social, interpersonal, or physical consequences.
  7. Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to opioid use.
  8. Using opioids in situations where it’s physically hazardous to do so.
  9. Continuing to use opioids despite knowledge of a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem likely caused by opioids.
  10. Developing tolerance, needing higher doses to achieve the desired effect or experiencing a diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of opioids.
  11. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when reducing or stopping opioid use or using opioids to avoid withdrawal.

Opioid addiction can have severe consequences on your physical and mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. It’s key to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction. Treatment may include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and support from peer groups.

A man has his arm around a sad woman to represent oxycodone and alcohol treatment.

Alcohol and Oxycodone Treatment

Evidence-based treatment for alcohol and opioid addiction typically involves a combination of MAT (medication-assisted treatment), behavioral therapy, and support from peer groups.

For alcohol addiction, medications such as naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram can be used to reduce cravings and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing can also be effective in helping individuals change their behaviors and thought patterns related to alcohol use.

For opioid addiction, medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Behavioral therapies such as CBT, and contingency management may also be effective in helping individuals maintain abstinence and make positive changes in their lives.

Addiction is a complex and chronic brain condition, and treatment may need to be tailored to meet the individual’s specific needs. It’s also beneficial for individuals to have a strong support system and access to resources such as counseling, self-help groups, and medical care to help them achieve and maintain long-term recovery.

Get Oxycodone and Alcohol Treatment at Gratitude Lodge

If you or a loved one have been mixing oxycodone and alcohol, Gratitude Lodge in Southern California offers a range of specialized programs to support whole-body addiction recovery. Our pet-friendly rehab centers located in Newport Beach and Long Beach provide a supervised medical detox program that ensures a safe and seamless transition from opioid or alcohol addiction into ongoing treatment.

Our OxyContin addiction treatment programs include a 30-day inpatient program and an intensive outpatient program), both of which are tailored to meet your specific needs. Additionally, if you’re dealing with co-occurring mental health issues like depression or anxiety, our dual diagnosis treatment program can provide you with integrated care and support as you unpack both conditions simultaneously with expert help.

At Gratitude Lodge, we use a range of evidence-based interventions to help you overcome your opioid addiction, including MAT (medication-assisted treatment), psychotherapy, group counseling, individual counseling, family therapy, and holistic therapy. We believe in individualized treatment plans that cater to your unique needs and preferences. Once you complete your treatment program at Gratitude Lodge, we offer a comprehensive aftercare plan that includes relapse prevention strategies and ongoing support. Our goal is to help you move from active opioid addiction to long-term recovery and a fulfilling life. To take the first step towards recovery, reclaim your life from alcohol and painkillers by calling our admissions team at 888-861-1658 today.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Russe MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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