Facebook Pixel Alcohol and Opioids | Western Kentucky University Skip to main content

Alcohol and Opioids

It is dangerous to combine alcohol and any strong prescription medication. Alcohol can have serious side effects by itself, and it can enhance the side effects of other drugs, like prescription medications, in unpredictable and dangerous ways. The same is true for opioid medications, such as hydrocodone,oxycodone, andmorphine. These strong prescription painkillers are synthesized from different opiate alkaloid precursor substances, which are derived from the opium poppy. These medications can help post-surgical or post-injury pain, or people suffering from chronic pain; however, when they are abused or taken in combination with other drugs, like alcohol, they can threaten the individual’s health.

If a person takes opioid prescription painkillers as their doctor has prescribed, they should not experience too many intoxicating symptoms. In general, opiates can make a person sleepy, chronically fatigued, or constipated, but there should not be too many side effects unless the drug is taken in a larger-than-prescribed quantity, or if the prescription is too high and needs adjustment.

Symptoms of opiate intoxication include:

  • Confusion or delirium
  • Drowsiness or inability to stay awake
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Depressed, or slowed breathing

No description available.


If a person receives a prescription for opioid painkillers, it is important not to drink while also taking this strong painkilling medication. Side effects of this drug interaction can be very serious and life-threatening.

When alcohol and strong prescription medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine are mixed, the combination can be dangerous.Combining alcohol with opioids can lead to side effects such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate and rhythm
  • Cardiovascular instability
  • Dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Marked disinhibition
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Coma

Alcohol and prescription painkillers like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine are particularly deadly when individuals mix them. This type of overdose has been on the rise due to an increase in opioid drug addictions in the US in the past few decades. Many people have become addicted to prescription painkillers that are based on hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine, and sometimes, people who become addicted to these drugs also abuse alcohol. That being said, even if a person takes a painkiller as prescribed and drinks a small amount of alcohol, the drugs can enhance each other’s effects, making dangerous intoxication and overdose all the more likely.


No description available.










Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 4/20/21