Author: Alex Thompson

Alcohol and Opiates: Dangerous Mixing of Hydrocodone, Oxycodone & Other Pain Killers

hydrocodone and alcohol

Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine. Your doctor can explain the consequences of mixing painkillers and alcohol. Then you can present this information to your teens so they might be less likely to simultaneously use these substances. Each substance releases a neurochemical in the brain called dopamine. Simultaneously using multiple substances exacerbates these problems.

hydrocodone and alcohol

It is dangerous to operate heavy machinery after consuming alcohol and opioids separately, and it is even more dangerous after consuming them together. When you mix alcohol and opioids and start to overdose, you will likely show some overdose signs as your body begins to shut down from the additive depressant effect of the substances. If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention for a possible hydrocodone and alcohol overdose. When you recommend or prescribe a medication that can interact with alcohol, this scenario presents a natural opening to review or inquire about a patient’s alcohol intake. The potential for a harmful interaction may provide a compelling reason for patients to cut down or quit drinking when warranted (see Core articles on screening and brief intervention). Alcohol and opioids are both depressants, meaning they lead to relaxation, pleasure, changes to breathing and heart rate, and trouble thinking clearly or remembering events.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol

The teens had overdosed after mixing hydrocodone and alcohol at high school graduation parties. The mother said her children had never before been in trouble for drinking or using drugs. But combining the prescription opioid hydrocodone with alcohol can produce a range of health effects, from drowsiness to severe liver problems. In some cases, drinking while using the medication can lead to death. Note that this list is not all-inclusive and includes only common medications that may interact with hydrocodone. You should refer to the prescribing information for hydrocodone for a complete list of interactions.

hydrocodone and alcohol

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers. In closing, combining alcohol with certain medications, particularly those with sedative effects, can increase the risk of adverse events, including falls, driving accidents, and fatal overdoses.

Over time, alcohol damages most parts of the body, but especially the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the liver, and the brain. Alcohol is found in many over-the-counter medicines, including cough syrups. Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet contain acetaminophen, a substance used to treat minor aches and pains. When mixed with alcohol, acetaminophen breaks down into a toxic product that can lead to liver damage. Contributors to this article for the NIAAA Core Resource on Alcohol include the writer for the full article, content contributors to subsections, reviewers, and editorial staff.

There are reasons why medical professionals prescribing hydrocodone caution against drinking while taking these highly addictive opioid pills. Mixing hydrocodone (an opioid painkiller) with alcohol can lead to a host of severe health problems ranging from lack of motor control to heart failure and coma. Combining these substances is a gamble that could cost you your life. Do not use alcohol or medications that contain alcohol while you are receiving treatment with HYDROcodone. This may increase nervous system side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, and impairment in thinking and judgment. In severe cases, low blood pressure, respiratory distress, fainting, coma, or even death may occur.


Because both alcohol and opiates are central nervous system depressants, combining them can have an additive effect that leads to overdose. This CME/CE credit opportunity is jointly provided by the Postgraduate Institute for Medicine and NIAAA. When prescribed, hydrocodone can come in immediate-release or extended-release versions.

  1. This is especially true if you take long-acting forms of hydrocodone, as alcohol can speed up the release of the drug into your bloodstream, further increasing your overdose risk.
  2. Safely getting off a long-term drug habit takes a village — a team of caring doctors and clinicians who will work with you one-on-one to see you through the detox and inpatient treatment process.
  3. Some opioids, like heroin, may take just a few hours to leave your system, while other opioids, like methadone, are longer-acting and may take days or even weeks to leave your body.
  4. The potential for a harmful interaction may provide a compelling reason for patients to cut down or quit drinking when warranted (see Core articles on screening and brief intervention).
  5. Administering naloxone may help to stop opioid-caused symptoms, but the person may still suffer due to excessive alcohol consumption.

This is especially true if you take long-acting forms of hydrocodone, as alcohol can speed up the release of the drug into your bloodstream, further increasing your overdose risk. This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants. CNS depressants are medicines that slow down the nervous system, which may cause drowsiness or make you less alert.

When two drugs both cause these as side effects, mixing them increases the likelihood that a person will pass out, stop breathing, or suffer heart failure and die. provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include Micromedex (updated 3 Mar 2024), Cerner Multum™ (updated 4 Mar 2024), ASHP (updated 12 Feb 2024) and others. Recently, naloxone has been spread widely among emergency responders, pharmacies, and even caregivers, to prevent deadly opioid overdoses. This drug is short-acting, but it temporarily reverses an opioid overdose, giving emergency responders the time they need to treat the individual.

More about hydrocodone

Medicines that interact with hydrocodone may either decrease its effect, affect how long it works, increase side effects, or have less of an effect when taken with hydrocodone. An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of the medications; however, sometimes it does. Alcohol, in some cases, can even make opioids release faster into your bloodstream, increasing your risk of overdose not only from the alcohol but from an unexpectedly high amount of the opioid. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about mixing alcohol and opioids in your particular situation. Both hydrocodone and alcohol cause similar effects in the brain, so they can compound each other’s intoxication, making a person feel very high or drunk.

Call The Recovery Village today to talk with a representative about your options for treatment and start on the path to drug-free living. Avoid drinking alcohol or taking illegal or recreational drugs while taking hydrocodone. When you take two substances that slow down your body’s systems, there is a danger of suppressing your body too much. More resources for a variety of healthcare professionals can be found in the Additional Links for Patient Care.

What Is Hydrocodone?

Immediate-release hydrocodone treats pain very quickly, typically lasting between four and six hours. Extended-release versions are intended to treat chronic pain, and effects from these medicines can last up to 12 hours, giving full-day relief. There are many brand-name medications that contain hydrocodone, but this chemical itself is an opioid painkiller. Originally thought to be less addictive than oxycodone, hydrocodone has since been moved up to Schedule II in the Controlled Substances List from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Signs of Alcohol and Opioid Overdose

An overdose occurs when someone experiences harmful reactions caused by taking too much of a substance. Alcohol increases the effects of opioids on the central nervous system, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Consuming painkillers and alcohol together produces sedative effects, causing people to feel extremely tired.

When taken together, each drug exacerbates the effects of the other, and you will likely lose control of your motor skills and judgment faster than you thought possible. Both drugs are depressants, which inhibit your central nervous system. When this system is depressed, your heart rate and breathing can slow to extremely dangerous levels, increasing the likelihood of unconsciousness and coma.