Vicodin and Alcohol

Prescription medications that contain opioids can be highly effective at reducing pain. Unfortunately, they can also be highly addictive. Patients frequently crave opioids long after their prescriptions expire.


Making these situations even worse, some people take alcohol and opioids at the same time, a habit that can lead to serious short-term and long-term health problems. This combination can even be fatal.

In particular, Vicodin is a painkilling drug that people sometimes take with alcohol.

Do you know someone who might be addicted to Vicodin? Could this person be mixing it with alcohol? Perhaps you’re combining these two substances yourself. In such a case, it’s vital to seek professional care right away.

The audio version of the article.

An Introduction to Vicodin

Vicodin is a brand name for a drug that contains acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is an opioid that’s taken orally. And, due to the presence of that opioid, Vicodin is in the same class of drugs as morphine and heroin.

Note that this drug is manufactured under other brand names as well. They include Anexsia, Lorcet, and Zydone. Vicodin is probably the best known of all these medications.

Doctors sometimes prescribe Vicodin for accident-related pain, chronic back pain, and pain from disorders like arthritis. Most Vicodin prescriptions are for a short period of time. And Vicodin is almost always reserved for severe and rare cases, instances when patients don’t respond to safer forms of pain relief.

Like other opioid medications, Vicodin is a depressant. That is, it slows the functioning of the central nervous system (CNS).

The CNS receives signals from and sends messages to the rest of the body. When it works more slowly, respiration and the beating of the heart slow down as well. In addition, a person might feel tired or completely relaxed.

When Vicodin reaches a patient’s brain, it attaches itself to the opioid receptors there. By doing so, it impedes pain signals. Therefore, it makes a person feel pain less acutely if at all.

Furthermore, as it operates, Vicodin can cause unpleasant side effects, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, and dizziness.

In fact, some people assume that Vicodin is safe to use since it’s medicinal and doctors prescribe it. As a result, those patients might believe that it’s not too dangerous to take extra Vicodin from time to time — or to mix it with liquor.

In truth, Vicodin is addictive in the extreme, and it can significantly alter the chemical makeup of a person’s brain.

Vicodin triggers the brain’s reward system, providing the user with feelings of pleasure. Thus, some people take it — or continue to take it after their prescription runs out — simply for that sense of euphoria.

Vicodin dependency often comes with certain symptoms. For starters, patients’ prescribed doses of this medication might not ease their pain anymore. That’s because the body can get so accustomed to this drug. Thus, it takes increasingly larger dosages to dull pain.

In addition, if a person is addicted to Vicodin and then stops taking it at some point, withdrawal symptoms will almost certainly arise. They could include aches, chills, heavy sweating, shaking, vomiting, and strong feelings of anxiety.

Also, when people become addicted to Vicodin or other opioids, they might seem sleepy much of the time. It’s even possible that they’ll fall asleep right in front of you on occasion.

Such an addiction can bring about disturbing personality changes, too. For one thing, people who misuse Vicodin often avoid socializing. They might lose contact with their own family members. And they may stop taking part in the activities and hobbies that they’ve enjoyed in the past.

Vicodin usage can likewise induce aggressive behaviors, panic attacks, depression, and even suicidal feelings.

Further, it’s a bad sign if you know a person who’s taking Vicodin, and this person keeps looking for new doctors. This individual might be trying to find an unethical or incompetent doctor, someone who will keep subscribing Vicodin.

Tragically, in many cases, there are no obvious symptoms that a person is addicted to opioids until it’s too late.


Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

Simply stated, as dangerous as Vicodin can be on its own, it’s much more dangerous when it’s taken with alcohol. Inside the body, alcohol and Vicodin magnify one another’s effects. Each substance makes the other more potent.

Alcohol is also a depressant. And the combination of two depressants can make the CNS too sluggish to do its vital jobs correctly.

For example, the brain is always sending out signals that tell the respiratory system to keep breathing. However, a mix of alcohol and Vicodin can depress the CNS so much that those signals won’t reach their destinations. As a result, the body will stop breathing, and the person will die.

After ingesting these two substances together, people might also feel numb or pass out. They could even slip into a coma.

Even if a person doesn’t die from a blend of alcohol and Vicodin, mixing those two substances for an extended period can harm the body in serious ways.

For instance, Vicodin and alcohol combinations can strain the lungs. And, over time, they can cause major lung damage, which may be irreversible.

On top of that, the liver processes both alcohol and opioids. Mixing the two on a regular basis could damage that essential organ as well. And liver failure is definitely a risk.

Other potential consequences of alcohol and Vicodin mixtures are kidney failure, pancreatic infections, and seizures. Hallucinations and delusions are also possible.

Over time, taking alcohol and Vicodin together can lead to stomach damage, brain damage, nerve damage, and vision loss.

Seeking Help

Do you know someone who’s currently taking Vicodin? If you do, and if you ever notice certain symptoms in that person, call for emergency medical help right away. These symptoms can indicate that someone has taken alcohol with Vicodin.

They include heavy breathing, wheezing, clammy and sweaty skin, and discolored skin. In particular, if the fingertips or the skin surrounding the mouth look blueish, the body may be struggling with a mixture of alcohol and Vicodin.

Also, if a person seems unusually confused, it could be a consequence of taking alcohol with Vicodin.

If you or someone you know is addicted to Vicodin and has been mixing it with alcohol, remember that ongoing treatment is always available. And the sooner a person seeks help, the easier the treatment is likely to be. At the same time, as long as a person is still alive, it’s not too late.

For those who live in or near Sparta, N.J., we at the Garden State Treatment Center offer effective and personalized care. Our trained and caring staff members, people who are all New Jersey natives, provide treatment programs that are grounded in scientific research.

Our programs begin with a free assessment. Then, as we develop our patients’ customized care plans, we address the root causes and psychological issues that have led to their addictions.

From there, step by step, we help our patients permanently overcome their substance abuse patterns and reclaim their lives. The environments we establish are cozy and comfortable, and our team members are always supportive and motivating. Indeed, everything we do is geared toward long-term recovery and keeping relapses from occurring.

In short, if you, a friend, or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, alcohol, or both, please contact us. Our initial conversation will be totally confidential, and it could be the first step on a long but lifesaving road to recovery.


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