The Dangers of Mixing Opioids and Alcohol

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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Taking opioids with alcohol can have disastrous consequences and even be fatal. Combining these two things might seem harmless at first, but there are many reasons this could turn out bad. Alcohol is a depressant, making you feel less sensitive to pain. In addition to reducing your natural ability to feel pain, opioid drugs also reduce pain, leading to one’s tolerance for painkillers skyrocketing.

Mixing opioids and alcohol can lead to about anything, from respiratory problems to stomach ulcers – not forgetting possible coma or even death! 

How Does Alcohol Affect Your System?

Once you consume alcohol, its distributed to different organs of your body, such as the brain, liver, kidneys, and lungs, it takes approximately an hour for one unit of alcohol to be broken down in the body, depending on various factors that include a person’s age, weight, and other factors. Here is how alcohol affects the body:

The stomach absorbs around 20% of the alcohol once it enters your bloodstream while your intestines take care of it; drinking too much can lead to malnutrition and gastric issues such as ulcers or bloating that come with frequent drinking. 

Drinking too much leads to abuse over time and affects how our livers work: up to 90% of heavy drinkers will experience liver complications caused by years-long exposure. 

Alcohol stimulates increased urine production, as it is a natural diuretic. A person may need to urinate more often when consuming alcohol, which can lead to dehydration. Moreover, it also inhibits certain brain parts that control bodily functions. This will influence an individual’s decision-making and mood, causing impaired coordination, slurred speech, or blurred vision. 

How Opioids Affect Your System

Opioids work by binding and activating opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and other body parts. These proteins are called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). When opioids bind to these receptors, they block pain signals from reaching the brain and produce a sedating or calming effect. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when prescribed by doctors; however, prolonged use can lead to addiction—which comes with a high risk of overdose or death. In 2017 alone, according to WHO statistics, 115K people died from an opioid overdose alone.

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Opioids

Mixing opioids with alcohol is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious health consequences. When opioids and alcohol are combined, they depress the central nervous system, leading to slowed breathing, decreased heart rate, and a greater risk of overdose. This can be especially dangerous if someone is unaware of their tolerance levels, as it increases the risk of taking too much of either substance.

The combination of opioids and alcohol also amplifies the feeling of sedation and can cause people to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly. This can be incredibly dangerous, increasing the risk of choking or other airway complications.

Mixing opioids and alcohol increases the risk of experiencing negative psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, confusion, and paranoia. These effects can be made worse by lack of sleep, so those who mix opioids and alcohol should be especially aware of their sleeping habits.

It’s important to remember that any amount of opioids and alcohol should not be mixed. Doing so puts one at a greater risk of experiencing serious health consequences, so it’s best to avoid mixing them at all costs.

The long-term effects of mixing opioids and alcohol can be devastating. Over time, this combination can lead to liver damage, respiratory failure, and a weakened immune system. It can also make fighting off infections and recovering from illnesses difficult. Further, long-term use of opioids and alcohol can increase the risk of addiction to either or both substances.

Risks Associated with Mixing Opioids and Alcohol

When opioids and alcohol are combined, the potential dangers are extreme. Opioids are a powerful class of drugs that can be extremely addictive, while alcohol is a depressant that can increase drowsiness and lower inhibitions. When these two substances are combined, they can create a dangerous cocktail that can lead to physical, mental, and emotional risks.

Physically, the combination of opioids and alcohol can slow heart rate and breathing, leading to coma or death. In addition, combining opioids with alcohol increases the risk of an overdose. Opioids act on the brain’s reward system and suppress breathing, while alcohol has sedative effects that can slow breathing further.

Mentally, mixing opioids and alcohol can confuse and impair thinking. This can lead to people making poor decisions and putting themselves at risk of further harm. Additionally, people may experience mood swings and depression when using opioids with alcohol, as well as increased anxiety.

Emotionally, combining opioids and alcohol can have devastating consequences. People may become more prone to violence or suicide attempts due to the effects of the two substances on the brain. Further, opioid and alcohol use can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

Get Help Today 

It’s no secret that opioids can be highly addictive and dangerous when taken without medical supervision. When combined with alcohol, the risks become even more significant. Mixing opioids with alcohol can have serious consequences, including an increased risk of overdose, organ damage, and addiction.

At Defining Wellness Centers, we recognize the dangers of mixing opioids and alcohol. Our team of qualified healthcare professionals is dedicated to helping people struggling with opioid abuse and addiction find a safe, healthy way forward.

Our treatment programs promote long-term recovery and provide individualized care for each patient. We understand that opioid use disorder is a complex medical condition, and we are committed to finding solutions that will last.

We offer detoxification services and outpatient treatment programs to help individuals manage their addiction. Our team also provides psychological support, medication management, and case management services to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, please don’t hesitate to contact Defining Wellness Centers. Our compassionate team is here to help you get on the path to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.

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If you are ready to take the step towards a new life, call Defining Wellness today and learn more about how we can help you.