Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol
Vicodin and alcohol should never be taken together. Vicodin is a prescription opioid used to treat pain disorders. Vicodin contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Other brand names for this drug combination include:
Alcohol is a dangerous combination with either hydrocodone or acetaminophen alone, but it becomes especially harmful when all three substances are mixed.
Hydrocodone is an opioid pain medication and mixing it with alcohol increases the risk of addiction, central nervous system (CNS) depression, coma, dizziness, drowsiness, slowed breathing and death. Combining acetaminophen with alcohol greatly increases the risk of liver failure and liver disease.
Why Do People Mix Vicodin and Alcohol?
People may mix Vicodin and alcohol intentionally or unintentionally. Those who accidentally mix Vicodin and alcohol should call their doctor or pharmacist for advice. People must carefully read warning labels on their prescriptions to ensure they are not taking dangerous mixtures of drugs and alcohol.
Those who intentionally mix Vicodin and alcohol do so because it increases feelings of euphoria and pleasure when abusing the two substances together. They want to combine a “Vicodin high” with being drunk, but doing so can be incredibly dangerous.
People with substance use disorder may have increased cravings and drug-seeking behavior compared to people without, so they may ignore the warnings of danger when combining the two drugs.
Effects of Combining Alcohol and Vicodin
When combined, Vicodin and alcohol cause more CNS depression than either drug would alone. Other effects of combining Vicodin and alcohol include:
- Impaired motor control
- Increased risk for overdose
- Liver damage
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory problems
- Slowed breathing
- Slurred speech
- Unusual behavior
A person taking a combination of Vicodin and alcohol should never operate a car or heavy machinery as they are at an increased risk of harming themselves or others. Additionally, the addictive potential of each drug increases if they are taken together.
Risks of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol
People mixing Vicodin and alcohol expose themselves to a much greater risk of overdose. The following are signs of a Vicodin overdose:
- Breathing or heartbeat slows down
- Pale face
- Blue or purple fingernails or lips
- Cold or clammy skin
- They cannot be woken up or cannot speak
If an overdose is suspected call 911 immediately.
Once at the hospital, people who overdose may be given reversal agents for the opioid overdose, but there is no reversal agent for alcohol. A polysubstance overdose may require a few days of care to ensure that the person is safe and healthy.
Another risk of combining Vicodin and alcohol is the increased chance of addiction. Each substance has a high potential for abuse and addiction on their own, and combining them makes the addiction potential much higher.
Acetaminophen is toxic to the liver and is involved in hundreds of overdose deaths in the United States each year. About half of these overdoses are suicide attempts, and the other half are accidental overdoses.
Liver damage greatly increases when people take greater than 3000 mg per day of acetaminophen. Some people may take up to 4000 mg per day if they are under the supervision of a doctor that has directed them to do so.
To a lesser extent, hydrocodone and other opioid medications can cause liver damage themselves. Therefore, taking Vicodin with alcohol slams the liver with three different harmful substances at once.
Treatment for Vicodin and Alcohol Addiction
Chemical dependency programs may begin with medical detox if the person is still using addictive substances.
After detox, treatment continues with either an inpatient or outpatient program, depending on the extent of the abuse.
Inpatient programs are best for people who would benefit from removing negative influences around them. If a person is still able to function in their obligations, outpatient treatment may be a better option.
Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can address your substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health disorders. You deserve a healthier future, call today.
DailyMed. “Hydrocodone, Acetaminophen Tablet.” May 24, 2011. Accessed Aug 23, 2019.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Harmful Interactions.” Accessed Aug 23, 2019.
Hedegaard, Holly, et al. “National Vital Statistics Reports.” 2018. Accessed Aug 23, 2019.
MedlinePlus. “Opioid Overdose.” August 27, 2018. Accessed Aug 23, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Someone with a Drug Use Problem?” Accessed Aug 23, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. 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 provider.