Mixing Codeine and Alcohol

pouring codeine and alcohol together

Codeine, also known by its chemical names, codeine phosphate and codeine sulfate, is a commonly used prescription medication. It is classified as an opioid analgesic and it is used for management of mild to moderately severe pain and to reduce coughing. Codeine acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant because it slows down certain processes in the brain. These effects include drowsiness, dizziness and slowed breathing rate. When codeine is taken with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol, these effects can be intensified.

Mixing codeine and alcohol is not recommended and extreme caution should be used when they are taken together due to the potential risk for respiratory depression, impaired coordination, impaired cognition, profound sedation, coma or death. Understanding the risks associated with mixing codeine and alcohol can help you better recognize the signs of inappropriate use of these substances.

Should You Mix Codeine and Alcohol?

Codeine and alcohol are both classified as CNS depressants and the best practice is to avoid unnecessary mixing of these two substances. While taking codeine, an individual may experience increased fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness and impaired coordination. Alcohol will intensify these effects, making it very risky and dangerous to use codeine and alcohol together. It is not recommended to take these two substances together and extreme caution should be used when they are mixed.

Tylenol With Codeine #3 and Alcohol

One of the most commonly prescribed combination products of codeine is a pain reliever called Tylenol with Codeine #3. Mixing alcohol and Tylenol with Codeine can be very dangerous and should be avoided.

Side Effects of Mixing Codeine and Alcohol

The effects of concurrent codeine and alcohol use include:

  • Intensified central nervous system depression
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired cognition
  • Profound sedation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

These effects can occur at relatively small doses, so extreme caution and care should be used when codeine and alcohol are used together.

Risks of Mixing Codeine and Alcohol

The side effects of mixing codeine and alcohol range from mild, such as feelings of dizziness, to severe, including respiratory depression or coma. The greatest risk associated with the severe side effects is death. Codeine and alcohol death is possible when an individual’s breathing rate becomes dangerously slow and causes a lack of oxygen that is deadly.

An additional concern with any codeine products that contain Tylenol (also known as the generic name acetaminophen) is the increased risk for liver damage. Although codeine itself does not carry a risk for liver damage, combination products with Tylenol have a risk for liver injury when used in excess or when used with other products or substances that cause liver injury, such as alcohol. Combining Tylenol with Codeine and alcohol can result in liver damage. Signs of liver damage include yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or swelling, and excessive fatigue. If you are experiencing these side effects while taking Tylenol with Codeine, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Can You Overdose on Codeine and Alcohol?

Overdose is possible when codeine products are used inappropriately or prescribed inappropriately. Codeine overdose signs include shallow breathing, pale skin, confusion and unconsciousness. Codeine and alcohol overdose is extremely dangerous and may be fatal as the overdose symptoms of codeine can be intensified by the use of alcohol.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of overdose from codeine and alcohol, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should call 9-1-1 to make sure that the overdose is properly managed by trained healthcare professionals in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

Getting Help for Codeine and Alcohol Addiction

It is possible to develop a physical and psychological dependence on codeine and alcohol, which can lead to addiction. While codeine and alcohol addiction can be overwhelming, treatment is available and you do not have to fight for recovery on your own. Codeine addiction treatment will typically include medical treatment of any withdrawal symptoms along with psychological care to prevent relapse. Alcohol addiction help is also available with evidence-based methods for long-term recovery. Recovery from codeine and alcohol addiction is possible and comprehensive treatment programs can be a start for lifelong healing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with codeine addiction or alcohol addiction, The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. You will receive compassionate and comprehensive treatment to help you on the path to recovery. To learn more about your individualized treatment options, contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to speak with a representative.

Drugs.com. “Codeine and Alcohol/Food Interactions.” (n.d.) Accessed August 14, 2019.

Food and Drug Administration. “Codeine.” Revised May 2013. Accessed August 14, 2019.

MedlinePlus. “Codeine.” Revised March 15, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2019.