opioid and alcohol

{Drug} and Alcohol

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

opioid and alcohol

Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. Other medical uses include suppression of diarrhea, replacement therapy for opioid use disorder, reversing opioid overdose, suppressing cough, as well as for executions in the United States. Extremely potent opioids such as carfentanil are approved only for veterinary use. Opioids are also frequently used non-medically for their euphoric effects or to prevent withdrawal.

Side effects of opioids may include itchiness, sedation, nausea, respiratory depression, constipation, and euphoria. Long-term use can cause tolerance, meaning that increased doses are required to achieve the same effect, and physical dependence, meaning that abruptly discontinuing the drug leads to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The euphoria attracts recreational use and frequent, escalating recreational use of opioids typically results in addiction. An overdose or concurrent use with other depressant drugs like benzodiazepines commonly results in death from respiratory depression.



What happens when you mix opioid and alcohol


Side effects of mixing opioid and alcohol can include


  • Dizziness
  • Sluggishness
  • Drowsiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Palpitations
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Death


Interestingly, it is impossible to tell what effect opioid and alcohol will have on an individual due to their own unique genetic make up and tolerance. It is never advisable to mix opioid and alcohol due to the chances of mild, moderate and severe side effects. If you are having an adverse reaction from mixing opioid and Alcohol it’s imperative that you head to your local emergency room.


Alcohol and opioid


Alcohol and opioid creates a that has different effects depending on the dose: many people feel stimulated and strengthened at low doses of alcohol and opioid and even mixing a small amount of opioid and alcohol is not recommended.

Mixing alcohol and opioid


The primary effect of alcohol is influenced by an increase in the concentration of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which is found in the spinal cord and brain stem, and by a reduction in its effect on neuronal transmitters that are excitatory. When alcohol is combined with opioid this primary effect is exaggerated, increasing the strain on the body with unpredictable results.


Alcohol and opioid affects dopamine levels in the brain, causing the body both mental and physical distress. Larger amounts of opioid and alcohol have a greater adverse effect yet leading medic al recommendation is that smaller does can be just as harmful and there is no way of knowing exactly how opioid and alcohol is going to affect an individual before they take it.


Taking opioid and alcohol together


People who take opioid and alcohol together will experience the effects of both substances. Technically, the specific effects and reactions that occur due to frequent use of opioid and alcohol depend on whether you consume more alcohol in relation to opioid or more opioid in relation to alcohol.


The use of significantly more opioid with alcohol will lead to sedation and lethargy, as well as the synergistic effects resulting from a mixture of the two medications.


People who take both alcohol and opioid may experience effects such as:


  • reduced motor reflexes from opioid and alcohol
  • dizziness from alcohol and opioid
  • nausea and vomiting of the opioid


Some people may also experience more euphoria, depression, irritability or all three. A combination of alcohol and opioid leads to significantly more lethargy which can easily tip over into coma, respiratory depression seizures and death.

Alcohol Vs opioid


Taking opioid in sufficient quantities increases the risk of a heart failure. Additionally, people under the influence of opioid and alcohol may have difficulty forming new memories. With alcohol vs opioid in an individual’s system they become confused and do not understand their environment. Due to the synergistic properties of opioid when mixed with alcohol it can lead to confusion, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders. Chronic use of opioid and alcohol can lead to permanent changes in the brain.


opioid Vs alcohol


Studies investigating the effects of drugs such as opioid and alcohol have shown that the potential for parasomnia (performing tasks in sleep) is dramatically increased when opioid and alcohol are combined. Severe and dangerous side effects can occur when medications are mixed in the system, and sleep disorders are a common side effect of taking alcohol and opioid together.

When a small to medium amount of alcohol is combined with opioid, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can occur. According to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) most ER visits and hospitalizations caused by too much alcohol were associated with other substances such as opioid.


How long after taking opioid can I drink alcohol


To avoid any residual toxicity it is advisable to wait until the opioid has totally cleared your system before drinking alcohol, even in small quantities.


Overdose on opioid and alcohol


Overdose on opioid and alcohol is alarmingly common and can often be fatal. In the case of Overdose on opioid or if you are worried after mixing {Drug and alcohol} call a first responder or proceed to the nearest Emergency Room immediately. If you are worried about someone who has taken too much opioid or mixed alcohol with opioid then call a first responder or take them to get immediate medical help. The best place for you or someone you care about in the case of a medical emergency is under medical supervision. Be sure to tell the medical team that there is a mix of opioid and alcohol. The combination of alcohol and opioid increases the likelihood that a person would be transferred to intensive care.


opioid and Alcohol

opioid and Alcohol

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