There are many risks associated with combining hydrocodone and alcohol. These two drugs are depressants, meaning that they slow down the central nervous system (CNS). Taking them together increases the effects of both drugs. Overdose and death become more likely. One should discuss his or her alcohol use with a physician before starting treatment with hydrocodone.
Hydrocodone and alcohol are depressant drugs. In alcoholic beverages, ethanol produces this effect. Hydrocodone, an opium derivative, is much stronger and intended as a pain killer. In taking either drug, central nervous system processes slow down, creating a variety of effects: muscle relaxation, slurred speech, cognitive impairment, sedation and depression, just to name a few. Simultaneously taking two depressants is a potentially fatal combination.
Medically speaking, alcohol is a contraindication for hydrocodone. This means that alcohol interferes with the intended medicinal affect of hydrocodone. Though some unintended drug combinations can cancel out the effects of medication, mixing these substances does the opposite.
Depressants, when mixed, have an exponentially greater affect on the body rather than just the sum effects of the two drugs separately. Individuals who combine both drugs fall into a trap by believing that taking hydrocodone and alcohol together will not affect them too greatly. Yet when the drugs are combined in the human body, the affects are generally double of what one expects. This unsafe drug combination can easily lead to overdose.
An overdose of hydrocodone and alcohol presents with symptoms associated with an overdose of either drug taken on its own. A person may fall into a deep sleep and become unresponsive; also, the pupils may become very small. These effects generally occur within the first few minutes of combining these two substances. The most dangerous symptom, though, is that a person may have trouble breathing or completely stop breathing. Immediate medical attention is necessary if any of these symptoms appear.
Due to the possibly fatal consequences of mixing hydrocodone and alcohol, it is necessary to discuss one's alcohol use with a physician before starting hydrocodone treatment for pain management. If one drinks heavily, a physician may require that one stop all alcohol consumption for a period of time before he or she will prescribe hydrocodone. In some cases a physician may recommend that one enter an alcohol treatment program. For patients, it is important to remember that being truthful with one's physician concerning alcohol use can avoid a life-threatening drug combination.