Mixing Alcohol and Oxycodone: Risks, Effects & Treatment
Last Updated: November 16, 2023
The Recovery Village Kansas City offers support for those struggling with opioid and alcohol addiction, including personalized assistance.
Oxycodone is a medication that treats moderate to severe pain when other medications are ineffective or not well-tolerated. However, combining oxycodone with alcohol can lead to serious or life-threatening side effects. Knowing the risks, side effects and possible treatment of mixing oxycodone and alcohol helps avoid this dangerous combination.
What Is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is an opioid medication that numbs pain signals from the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain to alleviate pain. It is sold under brand names such as:
- Xtampza ER
Risks and Side Effects of Oxycodone Use
Like any potent pain medication, oxycodone can cause side effects. Higher doses increase the likelihood of reactions, including:
- Upset stomach
Clinical trials show that 50%–80% of patients taking oxycodone experience at least one side effect. The risks of improper use of oxycodone without regular visits to the prescriber include mental or physical dependence and addiction.
Oxycodone Addiction Potential
Taking oxycodone differently than the prescription indicates, such as taking more than the prescribed dose or taking the prescription more often, frequently leads to addiction. Extended oxycodone use — more than a few days — may lead to long-term use, increasing the chances of mental and physical addiction. Avoiding oxycodone use for more than a few days for acute pain, such as from surgery or a broken bone, reduces the risk of addiction.
The Risks of Combining Oxycodone and Alcohol
Oxycodone and alcohol are both CNS depressants. The synergetic effect makes them more potent when used together than when taken separately. When a person consumes alcohol, the bloodstream rapidly sends the alcohol to the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. Based on the person’s weight, gender and age, the total delivery of one unit of alcohol (10mL or 8g) may only take one hour. Combining oxycodone and alcohol can cause:
- Shallow breathing
- Irregular heart rate
Alcohol and Oxycodone Interactions
Drinking alcohol when taking oxycodone increases the potency of each substance and can lead to overdose. Combining these substances increases potency, which may also lead to side effects such as drowsiness, confusion and brain fog. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes a boxed warning on all oxycodone products, emphasizing that it’s never okay to have any alcohol when taking oxycodone and other opioids.
Short-Term Health Risks
Misusing oxycodone and binge drinking (women consuming four or more drinks and men consuming five or more drinks in a short time) often leads to unwelcome health risks. In 2010, the CDC reported that 18% of opioid-use emergency room visits were related to abusing opioids while drinking alcohol in excess. The accentuated side effects of both substances can lead to injuries from being confused and disoriented, causing falls and accidents. Other short-term misuse symptoms include slow, shallow breathing, a weak pulse, pale skin and constricted pupils.
Long-Term Health Risks
The long-term health risks of using oxycodone and alcohol include:
- Cardiac events leading to heart disease
- Liver damage causing liver failure
- Chronic kidney disease
The CDC reported in 2010 that 22% of all opioid deaths in the U.S. were due to combining opioids with alcohol.
Signs of Oxycodone and Alcohol Abuse
Abusing oxycodone and alcohol leads to troubling behaviors such as:
- Requiring increasing amounts of oxycodone and alcohol to satisfy the craving
- Engaging in risky activities and behavior to find a supply of opioids
- Being unable to concentrate on work or everyday living due to the strong urges for more oxycodone
- Needing to use oxycodone with alcohol more frequently
- Affecting the user’s personal life, social activities and work
- A decline in abilities at school or work
Treatment Options for Oxycodone and Alcohol Abuse
Abusing oxycodone and alcohol is often a sign of a substance use disorder (SUD). It can present as mild to severe according to the impact on the person struggling with the addiction. However, it is treatable, and seeking help from organizations like The Recovery Village Kansas City is the first step to recovery. The Recovery Village Kansas City offers several treatment programs for each patient’s needs.
Medical detox is the first step to recovery and can include troubling withdrawal symptoms as the body cleans itself of oxycodone and alcohol. The 24/7 medical team at The Recovery Village Kansas City closely supervises each patient, providing treatment for symptoms that keep the medical detox safe and the patient as comforted as possible. Each patient entering medical detox at The Recovery Village Kansas City is evaluated upon admission to establish a personalized treatment plan based on the following:
- The severity of their oxycodone and alcohol use
- Physical health
- Mental state
- Coexisting conditions
Residential rehab is inpatient treatment that includes an intensive care program while patients live onsite at The Recovery Village Kansas City. The round-the-clock availability of licensed professionals and isolation from oxycodone and alcohol allows a person struggling with addiction to focus on their recovery. Each personal treatment plan includes specific tools for a successful recovery free of relapse.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) provides more comprehensive approaches for patients in detox to avoid long-term relapse. MAT includes group and individual therapy sessions and specific medications for treating opioid and alcohol addiction. Some medications take away the high people can achieve when abusing substances, while others produce unwanted side effects if the person uses addictive opioids such as oxycodone.
Find Help for Opioid and Alcohol Addiction in Missouri
The Recovery Village Kansas City is available to help people with opioid and alcohol addiction in Missouri return to a healthy, substance-free life. Those concerned with the cost can use the confidential insurance verification tool to determine what their insurance covers and any possible out-of-pocket costs. A Recovery Advocate will contact applicants once they apply for admission to assist them with their application. Contact The Recovery Village Kansas City for questions and concerns about compassionate and successful recovery from oxycodone and alcohol addiction.
Food and Drug Administration. “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns about serious risks and death when combining opioid pain or cough medicines with benzodiazepines; requires its strongest warning.” September 20, 2017. Accessed September 15, 2023.
Drugs.com. “Oxycodone Monograph for Professionals.” April 19, 2023. Accessed September 15, 2023.
Geng, Caitlin. “What to know about alcohol and opioid use.” Medical News Today, December 7, 2021. Accessed September 15, 2023.
Mayo Clinic. “How opioid addiction occurs.” April 12, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2023.
The Faculty of Pain Medicine, Royal College of Anesthetists. “Side effects of opioids.” Accessed September 15, 2023.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention For People Who Consume Alcohol and Use Opioids.” July 11, 2018. Accessed September 15, 2023.