The Dangers of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol – Combining alcohol with any other intoxicating substances is very dangerous. However, mixing Percocet, a prescription painkiller, with alcohol can produce some unique problems. Percocet includes a combination of oxycodone, an opioid and acetaminophen, an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Mixing Percocet and Alcohol
When used as directed this combination of pain relievers is effective at treating moderate-severe pain after an injury, surgery, or illness. Percocet is intended for short-term treatment, and due to its potential for addiction, this drug is not indicated to treat chronic pain.
Because Percocet enters the bloodstream rapidly and the effects subside within four to six hours, this drug often triggers abuse, dependence, and addiction. People who struggle with Percocet addiction may also consume alcohol to intensify the effects of the opioid. Importantly, however, mixing opioids and alcohol can result in a life-threatening overdose, and combining alcohol and acetaminophen can quickly cause liver damage.
Both oxycodone and alcohol can induce feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Alcohol increases the sedative effects of oxycodone, and this can be very dangerous. The person could pass out, producing physical injury from a fall. They could also vomit while unconscious, which could cause the person to choke.
The primary cause of complications when using oxycodone in conjunction alcohol is respiratory depression. If the occurs, the person’s breathing will slow down, become very shallow, irregular, or even stop. This causes oxygen deprivation, and without prompt medical treatment, organs begin to fail, eventually leading to death.
Signs and Symptoms of Percocet and Alcohol
The combined effects of alcohol and Percocet are no different than mixing alcohol with any other opioid. Both drugs slow breathing and impair coordination. People who use alcohol and Percocet simultaneously have impaired judgment and may be a danger to themselves and others.
The presence of painkillers also decreases alcohol tolerance. Someone combining Percocet and alcohol may seem as if they are just extremely drunk, but the two substances compound the effects of one another and are actually much more dangerous.
Effects of concurrent alcohol and Percocet use include the following:
- Depressed respiratory system
- Inability to focus thoughts
- Low blood pressure
- Liver failure
- Heart attack
Treating an Opioid Overdose
Naloxone is a medication that has become essential for treating opioid overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 115 people die of opioid overdoses in the United States each day. As a result, first responders and caregivers are increasingly carrying naloxone with them, in the event they need to reverse an opioid overdose temporarily.
Naloxone is a very effective opioid overdose-reversal drug but is less effective when other substances are in a person’s system. Moreover, mixing alcohol with Percocet will make reversing an overdose on Percocet more difficult.
Since 2009, medical providers have expressed concern over acetaminophen overdoses. While it is not easy to unintentionally overdose on acetaminophen on its own, it found in a number of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, including cold and flu medications, headache treatments, allergy medications, and even medicines used for sleep.
Few over-the-counter pharmaceuticals contain more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dose, and the doses are spaced (as directed) to avoid an overdose. When people combine medications such as cold and flu drugs with over-the-counter painkillers, they are more likely to use more than the recommended dose of 4,000 mg per day without realizing it.
Unfortunately, accidental acetaminophen poisoning can cause liver damage and failure. Alcohol can also cause liver damage, so combining large amounts of acetaminophen with alcohol increases the risk and speed of damage occurring to the liver.
Liver damage caused by consuming alcohol and taking a single dose of acetaminophen is quite unlikely, but chronic misuse of powerful drugs such as Percocet in conjunction with excessive drinking will eventually cause liver damage. Even people who take Percocet as directed and also drink heavily can cause some damage to their livers.
Also, mixing acetaminophen and alcohol can cause damage to the lining of the stomach, which increases the risk of ulcers. If left untreated, ulcers can open and become infected, possibly resulting in life-threatening bleeding and infection.
Treatment for Percocet and Alcohol Abuse
When a person is addicted to or is abusing/misusing two or more substances, this is referred to as polysubstance abuse. Conditions related to both drugs of abuse must be treated in conjunction to achieve the best outcome for the person who is suffering.
Polysubstance abuse is most effectively treated using a comprehensive approach to addiction, including evidence-based services essential for long-term recovery. These include behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.
Midwood Addiction Treatment employs caring addiction specialists who deliver these services to clients with compassion and expertise. If you or someone that you know is abusing Percocet and alcohol or any other substance, contact us today to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help reclaim your life from addiction!