The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Oxycodone
Author: Greg Basham
Last Updated: 6/23/2022
The dangers of mixing alcohol and oxycodone are very serious. The two substances are never recommended to be used at the same time, as the combination of the two can cause long-term damage and can even prove lethal. Even in small doses, oxycodone becomes extremely dangerous when alcohol has also entered a person’s system, and, even without mixing with alcohol, the drug should never be used recreationally.
Even though both alcohol and oxycodone are legal in the United States, albeit the fact oxycodone is only legal to possess when prescribed by a doctor, both can be dangerous if misused. The risk of experiencing dangerous and life-threatening side effects increases when alcohol and oxycodone are mixed.
Mixing alcohol and oxycodone can also shock the respiratory system and cause respiratory depression. Respiratory depression brings potentially irreversible outcomes like brain damage, as well as a shock to the cardiovascular system, which increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a strong drug that belongs to the group of medicines classified as narcotic analgesics (pain medications). Most medical professionals do not prescribe oxycodone unless it’s used as a last resort to treat severe pain that is deemed too difficult to endure with weaker pain medications.
There are multiple forms of oxycodone and it’s the active ingredient in drugs like OxyContin, Percocet, and Roxicodone. Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule 2 controlled substance, meaning that in the United States it is considered to have medical value, but it is also known to have a risk for addiction and abuse.
Due to its strength and effectiveness in reducing pain, oxycodone is only recommended to be used in the short term. For example, after surgery it’s used to help people cope with pain as it’s excellent at interacting with opioid receptors in the brain. In doing so, oxycodone blocks the transmission of pain signals, also causing sedation and euphoria. In the proper circumstances, under professional guidance and supervision, it can be a helpful tool in assisting people to recover from serious injuries.
However, if used incorrectly, or if relied upon for a long period, oxycodone is known to become habit-forming. The damage an oxycodone addiction can cause is severe. Mental or physical dependence can occur, and withdrawal symptoms are possible.
The risk of dependency should not dissuade individuals from using oxycodone for the right reasons in the right setting, but when taken recreationally, or even against a doctor’s protocol, that is when it can cause devastating damage.
How Does Oxycodone Work?
Oxycodone works by targeting the parts of the brain which manage sensations of pain. It is similar to other opiates such as Heroin, Fentanyl, and Morphine, in the way that it is powerful and addictive. By shutting down pain receptors, oxycodone can soothe a person who is suffering from serious pain. When used responsibly, within the limits of a prescription, and with a doctor’s assistance, oxycodone can be a safe way to help to manage pain and recover from injury.
Not only does oxycodone block the transmission of pain messages through the body to decrease the sensation of agony, but it also releases a massive amount of dopamine. Dopamine is a neuromodulator that is one of the key chemicals in the brain that influences the feelings of happiness that people experience.
As a drug, oxycodone causes a burst of euphoria because it instigates an artificial release of dopamine. This blast of dopamine can help improve short-term pain management in a medical setting, assisting an individual in their early stages of recovering from a serious injury or invasive surgery. That said, this aspect of oxycodone can also result in serious complications such as addiction when it’s abused.
Oxycodone addiction is dangerous. The risk of addiction is why oxycodone is prescribed carefully and as a last resort. Unfortunately, if a person has been taking oxycodone for a long period, the risk of becoming dependent on the drug increases.
What Are the Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Oxycodone?
The side effects of mixing alcohol and oxycodone vary based on the person, the amount of each substance, and other factors. Because oxycodone triggers a rush of dopamine and also has a sedative effect, similarly to the sedative effect of alcohol, the two substances tend to mix by intensifying their individual effects.
Some of these effects involve a depression of the nervous system, which can result in calming sensations, but also less pleasant side effects such as slow reflexes, nausea, and poor coordination.
Some additional side effects of mixing alcohol and oxycodone are listed below.
- Loss of consciousness
- Excessive fatigue
- Co-occurring addiction
Another very serious side effect of mixing alcohol and Oxycodone has to do with the addictive nature of both substances. The feeling that the combination causes can be extremely euphoric, the aftermath of which is a dip in dopamine levels that can result in a vicious cycle of chasing the high that the two causes.
What Are the Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Oxycodone?
Mixing alcohol and oxycodone comes with many risks that may affect an individual in both the short and long term. The reality of mixing alcohol and oxycodone is that the mixture can be deadly. Alcohol and oxycodone can be deadly when mixed because of the way that the two substances interact with the central nervous system. The two substances depress the nervous system and decrease heart rate, which can lead to a coma and brain damage.
Some risks of mixing alcohol and oxycodone are listed below.
- Nausea and vomiting: not only is this an uncomfortable and unpleasant side effect, but copious amounts of vomiting can also cause dehydration, as well as severe damage to the stomach and the esophagus.
- Dehydration: while it may have been caused by vomiting, even if a person does not vomit after mixing alcohol and oxycodone, the chances they forget to drink water increase. Additionally, alcohol is inherently dehydrating, as is oxycodone, and both substances take a heavy toll on the stomach and liver, which is very dehydrating. Dehydration is dangerous because it can enhance feelings of confusion, tiredness, and muscle cramping, and has even been known to put pressure on the heart, which is already compromised when mixing alcohol and oxycodone.
- Changes in blood pressure: changes in blood pressure occur because of the way that mixing oxycodone and alcohol suppresses the cardiovascular system and lowers the heart rate to abnormal levels. This can force the heart to work faster to pump blood which tightens the lower left heart chamber and increases the risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death, and heart failure.
- Respiratory depression: due to the way that alcohol and opioids like oxycodone both slow down a person’s breathing, it is possible to experience respiratory depression when mixing the two substances as the body attempts to counter the effects of both drugs. Respiratory depression occurs when breathing slows or even stops, due to the body being unable to fight the sedative effects of oxycodone being amplified by the introduction of alcohol to the system at the same time. If respiratory depression becomes incredibly severe to the point of suffocation, complete and utter cessation of breathing is known to quickly cause brain injury and death.
- Coma: Lack or loss of oxygen caused by respiratory depression can also place an individual in a coma. In a coma, all motor skills are lost, and the chances of serious brain injury increase by the minute.
These are only some of the side effects that can occur when mixing alcohol and oxycodone.
What Are the Reasons Why Alcohol and Oxycodone Should Not Be Combined?
Alcohol and oxycodone should not be combined because it is an incredibly dangerous and addictive combination. There is no way to know whether or not alcohol and oxycodone will have a negative effect on the body or whether or not the effects will be less severe.
There are also many factors that impact the severity of the mixture of alcohol and oxycodone. Some factors include oxycodone and/or alcohol tolerance, height, weight, medical background, and the quantity ingested of either substance.
Not only is there a legitimate risk of death from a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and suffocation when mixing alcohol and oxycodone, but the risk of a coma from respiratory suppression is also a reason why alcohol and oxycodone should not be combined.
Even if an individual has a history of mixing alcohol and oxycodone, and has thus developed a tolerance, that does not mean that continuous use will not prove fatal. It is important to note also that these circumstances can not be predicted, as both substances are very hard to predict, making for another reason why alcohol and oxycodone should not be combined.
Below are the reasons alcohol and oxycodone should not be mixed.
- The risk of overdose from oxycodone increases
- The risk of overdose from alcohol increases
- Symptoms of alcohol intoxication become worse
- Stomach discomfort can lead to nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe confusion
- Blacking out
Furthermore, mixing alcohol and oxycodone makes for an extremely addictive concoction. Continuous use makes for an addiction incredibly hard to kick and severely damaging to the body.
Damage to the organs, such as the heart and liver, as well as to the mind, such as memory loss, and even an increased risk of cancer, make the continuous abuse of alcohol and oxycodone a recipe for disaster.
How Long After Taking Oxycodone Can I Drink Alcohol?
After taking oxycodone, it is important to wait until the opiate has entirely left the system before drinking alcohol. This is because even trace amounts of oxycodone in the system can interact with alcohol in such a way that increases the chances of some of the most serious risks such as respiratory suppression and changes in blood pressure.
Oxycodone is known to stay in the system for about 12 hours, so waiting that amount of time would most likely be safe. However, to give the body a chance to process the oxycodone, and ensure the active chemicals of the drug have left the bloodstream, it would be safest to wait at least 24 hours before drinking alcohol.
What Should You Not Mix With Oxycodone?
Apart from alcohol, which should never be mixed with oxycodone, many other drugs should not be mixed with oxycodone. As an oral tablet, oxycodone can be taken with or without food and should be taken with plenty of water.
Oxycodone should never be mixed with certain antibiotics, such as Biaxin, antifungal medications, like ketoconazole, medications for mental illness, muscle relaxants, certain HIV medications such as Viracept, sedatives, sleeping pills, or tranquilizers.
Some other dangerous drugs to mix with oxycodone are listed below.
- Other pain killers (unless prescribed by a doctor)
- Cough syrup
It is also dangerous to mix oxycodone with street drugs like heroin or cocaine, as the side risks can be deadly.
How Is Alcohol and Oxycodone Addiction Treated?
Alcohol and oxycodone addiction is treated on a case-by-case basis. Typically, medical professionals will recommend detox programs, inpatient rehabilitation centers, or outpatient counseling. Alcohol addiction and oxycodone addiction can also be treated in similar ways individually. In fact, many alcohol and oxycodone treatment programs use similar tactics to treat addiction like therapy and medications like Naltrexone.
Depending on the severity of alcohol and oxycodone addiction, symptoms of withdrawal can be dangerous. In cases where alcohol withdrawal is severe, alcohol detox is the preferred method of treatment. Alcohol detox can be done within inpatient rehab centers or at specialized outpatient rehab facilities. Detox is dangerous without medical supervision and can even lead to death. Therefore, it’s important to get the appropriate level of treatment.