Is It Safe to Mix Painkillers and Alcohol?


Even at recommended doses, it can cause an overdose if not taken as recommended. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved hydrocodone for the management of chronic pain that other analgesics (painkillers) cannot effectively manage. It is available via prescription only in extended-release (ER, long-acting) tablets and capsule forms.

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. Many people mix drugs to experience a more intense high or to alleviate the effects of one substance by adding another. Using multiple drugs at the same time is particularly common among high school and college students at parties or other social gatherings. There are many brand-name medications that contain hydrocodone, but this chemical itself is an opioid painkiller.

  1. Extended-release versions are intended to treat chronic pain, and effects from these medicines can last up to 12 hours, giving full-day relief.
  2. With its easy availability and abuse patterns, hydrocodone is a primary driver of opioid-related abuse and misuse.
  3. After all, addiction is the hijacking of the reward pathways as a response to neurochemicals.
  4. Recently, naloxone has been spread widely among emergency responders, pharmacies, and even caregivers, to prevent deadly opioid overdoses.
  5. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly.

You should refer to the prescribing information for hydrocodone for a complete list of interactions. Beyond the examples noted above, alcohol has the potential to interact negatively with many other commonly prescribed medications. The resources below can help alert you and your patients to important potential risks. If any warning signs are present, loved ones should reach out to professionals for help.

Hydrocodone combination products are used to relieve moderate-to-severe pain. Some commonly used opioids include fentanyl, OxyContin (oxycodone), codeine, and morphine, among others. Since hydrocodone is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use hydrocodone only for the indication prescribed. Avoid drinking alcohol or taking illegal or recreational drugs while taking hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone comes with a boxed warning as designated by the FDA that describes the potential risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid drug classified as a Schedule II drug. It is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. Opioids work by attaching to proteins called opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other body parts. This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur.

For further information about alcohol-medication interactions

Dr. Gulzar has been working in medical communications, writing medical and clinical research for patients and health professionals in the United Kingdom. This may not be a complete list of drugs that interact with hydrocodone. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a specific dose depending on your needs.


“Do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medication.” You’ve probably seen this warning label on medication you’ve taken, and the label doesn’t lie. Even the combination of alcohol and over-the-counter medications can lead to severe health problems. If you take prescription painkillers regularly, esgic dosage you risk a dangerous drug interaction every time you drink alcohol. With Vicodin or hydrocodone, the opioid depresses or slows the brain’s functioning which results in slower breathing and heart rate. But, when the CNS slows too much, overdose and other dangerous health consequences can result.

The Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Medication

This is because women’s bodies generally have less water than men’s bodies. Because alcohol mixes with body water, a given amount of alcohol is more concentrated in a woman’s body than in a man’s. As a result, women are more susceptible to alcohol-related damage to organs such as the liver. Alcohol, like some medicines, can make you sleepy, drowsy, or lightheaded. Drinking alcohol while taking medicines can intensify these effects.

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. 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.

This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements. To prevent this, your doctor may direct you to take laxatives, drink a lot of fluids, or increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, because continuing constipation can lead to more serious problems.

This CME/CE credit opportunity is jointly provided by the Postgraduate Institute for Medicine and NIAAA. More resources for a variety of healthcare professionals can be found in the Additional Links for Patient Care. In recognizing the basic brain science of addiction, you can understand that drug dependence is no one’s fault. After all, addiction is the hijacking of the reward pathways as a response to neurochemicals. No one chooses the brain’s response, and no one chooses addiction. When two or more depressants are used concurrently, they may increase the unwanted repercussions dramatically—leading to increased health risks.

It’s imperative that you seek medically assisted treatment to fully detox from these substances and cope with the withdrawal symptoms. Knowing this valuable information could save your life or that of a friend. It should only be used when prescribed and closely monitored by a healthcare provider.

Never share opioid medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Never use this medicine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed.