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The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Vicodin

by | Last updated Jun 16, 2021 at 10:08AM | Published on Jun 8, 2020 | Alcohol Addiction, Drug Addiction

mixing-alcohol-and-vicodin

There are a handful of prescription drugs that people regularly take with alcohol. Mixing alcohol and Vicodin is as common as mixing alcohol with Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Adderal, and many others. People often take these medicines and have no idea how harmful it can be to mix them. As a result, mixing Alcohol and Vicodin can be a deadly combination.

What’s Vicodin?

Vicodin is a blend of hydrocodone with acetaminophen, both painkillers. Another form of prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain, Vicodin prescriptions offer ongoing pain management. Even though acetaminophen acts as an abuse-deterrent, many individuals still misuse the medication. Vicodin misuse often results in dependence, which then becomes the gateway to other substance abuse problems.

Risks of Alcohol Abuse AloneAlcohol addiction statistics

Alcohol is perhaps one of the most misused substances. While most people who drink alcohol at social outings believe it’s okay, for many, this becomes the start of a bumpy relationship with alcohol abuse.

Over 3 million alcoholism cases happen in the United States every year. Alcohol abuse can have instant effects. The difference becomes when someone’s alcohol consumption becomes chronic and interferes with their daily life and responsibilities.

An alcoholic would experience one or more of these feelings:

  • An overwhelming desire to drink
  • Inability to stop harmful drinking
  • Withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking
  • Evidence of alcohol tolerance
  • Occasional binge-drinking episodes

The risks of alcohol abuse can be quite detrimental to someone’s health, including their mental health. Some of the most common side effects people experience are:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Heart rate changes
  • Passing out and choking on vomit
  • Seizures
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Coma
  • Organ failure
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Death

Vicodin Risks by ItselfVicodin Abuse Statistics

Initially, hydrocodone, the active ingredient in Vicodin, was thought to be less addictive than oxycodone. However, after further research and evidence, hydrocodone is now part of Schedule II in the Controlled Substances List from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

A Vicodin addict would experience one or more of these feelings:

  • A need to seek prescriptions from multiple doctors
  • An overwhelming desire to get the drug even from illegal sources
  • Withdrawal from their family and social environment

Long-term misuse and abuse of Vicodin can harm someone’s health, often resulting in long-lasting adverse effects. Some of the most common effects people experience are:

  • Rebound pain sensitivity
  • Mood changes and irritability
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Difficulties with memory consolidation
  • Poor stress management
  • Frequent sedation
  • An increased chance of bodily injury

What Happens When You Mix Vicodin and Alcohol?

Separately, prescription painkillers and alcohol have very different effects. They are other chemicals that have different purposes when introduced into the body. When combined, the chemicals can interact and cause a toxic combination that overwhelms a person’s system before your body can eliminate the toxins. Think of it as your body working overtime, and it just can’t keep up.

Additionally, excessive hydrocodone in Vicodin can cause memory loss, confusion, and breathing issues, many of the same things that excessive alcohol causes. Besides acute medical emergencies like cardiac and breathing problems, combining the two drugs can enormously negatively impact a person’s liver.

When mixing alcohol and Vicodin, addicts increase their chances of suffering from acute liver failure and kidney dysfunction. Both health concerns require lengthy and complicated treatment plans that increase the risk of death.

Signs of Alcohol and Vicodin Overdose

Both alcohol and Vicodin are depressants, which means they both cause relaxation. They slow down the central nervous system, so people feel sleepy or dull in large quantities. When two drugs have the same depressant effects, mixing them increases the likelihood of someone passing out, developing respiratory problems, or dying from an overdose.

Using alcohol and Vicodin together can suppress the system so much that a person’s breathing can stop completely.

Some warning signs of alcohol and Vicodin overdose include:

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slow or weak pulse
  • Lack of coordination and control
  • Falling out of consciousness
  • Disorientation

If anyone exhibits these kinds of symptoms after ingesting a substance, get medical help immediately. Generally, these are all signs that they might be mixing different substances like alcohol and Vicodin and are experiencing an overdose.

What’s the Threshold with Vicodin and Alcohol?

According to the FDA, daily acetaminophen doses should not exceed 4,000 mg. Any dosage higher than this can onset liver damage. Generally, to reach these levels, someone would need to take 16 Vicodin a day. While it might seem like a lot, someone struggling with Vicodin dependence can quickly achieve this dosage.

Tolerant individuals will likely seek other ways to experience a more intense high or extend the pain-relieving effects they want. As a result, most addicted individuals take anywhere between 20-40 tablets a day. Mixing alcohol with these medications can increase the risk of developing severe long-term physical adverse effects.

Even light to moderate use of alcohol can damage your organs and increase your risks of overdose. The bottom line is that mixing alcohol and Vicodin in any quantity is harmful to your health.

Finding Help for Your Addiction

Most people who develop Vicodin dependence will start using alcohol to intensify their experience. When someone becomes addicted to Vicodin, they might need to use it to even function at normal levels.

Thus, mixing alcohol and Vicodin helps people experience a more intense high. Without the drug, they often experience withdrawal effects. Because Vicodin contains opioid drugs, withdrawal symptoms often mirror those heroin addicts experience.

Some Vicodin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Body pain
  • Restlessness and discomfort
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold sweats
  • Trouble sleeping

Vicodin Addiction Treatment

Because Vicodin dependency can lead to withdrawal symptoms, a medical detox program is the best way to start treatment. Treatment will focus on detoxification during this early stage and provide comfort and a safe environment to eliminate the substance from your body.

At times, addiction specialists recommend medication-assisted treatment programs that include administering drugs that can help minimize the risk of relapse. Plus, these drugs often further ease the pain and discomfort of going through a Vicodin detox.

Eventually, patients can choose from a traditional drug rehab program or an intensive outpatient program. Both have advantages and disadvantages that you should discuss with your addiction specialist. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in finding the ultimate comprehensive approach to fight your addiction.

Our Drug Rehab Center also believes in long-term support for our patients. As a result, we provide many services for after addiction treatment, including aftercare measures and follow-up counseling, which can help prevent relapse. Remember, recovery is a long-term process that has many ups and downs. Therefore, long-term care is paramount to staying healthy and sober.

Get the Help You Need Today

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer an extensive list of drug addiction programs to help you stay clean. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or Vicodin addiction, reach out today. Our admission specialists will discuss our options and help you find the best treatment plan for your needs. Recovery from drug abuse starts today.

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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