Mixing Alcohol and Oxycodone: Risks, Effects & Treatment
Last Updated: November 1, 2023
Combining oxycodone and alcohol can lead to severe short and long-term consequences, including misuse, dependence and addiction.
Oxycodone and alcohol are dangerous substances when misused. Oxycodone can create a feeling of euphoria, but that effect can be more difficult to obtain over time. Sometimes, people try to restore that feeling by drinking alcohol as well. This can lead to severe consequences, including impaired heart function and inefficient breathing. Fortunately, well-tested programs are available to help recover from substance use disorders, including medical detox, residential rehab and medication-assisted treatment.
What Is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a prescription-only opioid painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain. It’s available in short-acting forms for acute pain, such as after an injury or surgery, and in extended-release forms suitable for chronic pain. Like other opioids, oxycodone attaches to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, blocking pain signals between the body and the brain. Oxycodone is sold under many brand names, including combination products, like:
Risks and Side Effects of Oxycodone Use
Side effects of oxycodone can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach discomfort
- Itchiness or rash
- Feeling confused
- Low blood pressure
Taking oxycodone can place you at risk of harm in several ways, including:
- Dependence and addiction (substance use disorder)
- Life-threatening breathing problems
- Impaired ability to drive and operate machinery
Oxycodone Addiction Potential
Suddenly stopping or reducing the use of oxycodone can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as disturbed sleep, sweating, tremors, anxiety, irritability, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is known as dependence. It’s also possible to develop a tolerance to oxycodone, meaning more is required to produce the same effect as initially experienced. If this happens, it’s possible to become addicted physically or psychologically to oxycodone, and you continue using it despite knowing it may be causing you harm.
Symptoms of addiction can include:
- The need for regular or increasing use of a medicine
- Craving the medicine
- Feeling anxious when the drug isn’t available
- Withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the medicine
- Feeling ashamed when a medical professional wants to know about your use of the medicine
To minimize the chances of opioid addiction, you should only use oxycodone as instructed by your doctor.
The Risks of Combining Oxycodone and Alcohol
Oxycodone and alcohol can affect breathing and heart function and create other serious symptoms individually. Combined, they can produce an effect greater than when used separately. In the worst case, this can cause breathing or the heart to stop.
Alcohol and Oxycodone Interactions
Alcohol and oxycodone are central nervous system depressants, slowing down the communication between your brain and body. The additive effect of taking both together can produce respiratory depression (slow, ineffective breathing), leading to decreased oxygen in the blood. Other reactions include:
- Impaired motor skills
- Memory problems
- Unusual behavior
Short-Term Health Risks
Symptoms of combining alcohol and oxycodone, such as drowsiness, poor concentration and decreased awareness, can result in work injuries and motor vehicle or other accidents. Impaired breathing and heart function can lead to serious consequences, including death. A CDC/FDA study of emergency department visits and drug-related deaths suggests that alcohol plays a significant role in the opioid crisis in the U.S.
Long-Term Health Risks
Long-term health risks from continued use of opioids include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced libido
- Decreased muscle mass
- Weight gain
- Dental caries
- Mood swings
- Dependence and addiction
Excessive alcohol consumption has also been shown to produce these symptoms.
Signs of Oxycodone and Alcohol Abuse
The symptoms of opioid abuse can be signs of dependence. In addition, behavioral changes could indicate that you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse involving oxycodone, alcohol or both. These include:
- Failure to meet responsibilities at school, work or home
- Giving up social or leisure activities
- Relationship problems
- Continuing use when you know the substance might be causing harm
- Risky behavior, for example, criminal activities or drunk driving
Treatment Options for Oxycodone and Alcohol Abuse
Fortunately, substance use disorders are treatable, and with the right professional help, you can fully recover and significantly lower the risk of serious harm.
If you continue to use alcohol or oxycodone to avoid withdrawal symptoms, have been using them for a long time or have tried to stop but not been successful, medical detox might be necessary. The safest way to approach detox is in the care of a professional medical team.
Sometimes, people you’re in regular contact with can trigger a feeling of need for the substance harming you. In such cases, residential rehab is an option to consider. Living on-site at a facility where you can receive intensive care from licensed professionals lets you focus on your recovery.
Medication-assisted treatment combines behavioral therapy with safe, effective medications to combat dependence.
Find Help for Opioid and Alcohol Addiction in Georgia
If you’re ready to begin treatment to overcome your addiction to alcohol and/or opioids or you want more information about available programs, one of our Recovery Advocates would be happy to take your call at 877-298-4985. You can also find out if your insurance covers some or all of the costs of our rehab programs by calling us or using our online insurance tool. Our admissions team is available 24/7.
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