Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
vicodin and alcohol
January 29, 2021

Vicodin and Alcohol: A Dangerous Mix

Vicodin is the brand name for a drug that combines the opioid hydrocodone with acetaminophen. Doctors commonly prescribe Vicodin to ease moderate to severe pain, but this medication also has a high potential for abuse due to the euphoria it creates.  

Some Vicodin users might start misusing their prescription by taking higher-than-prescribed doses or combining it with other substances in hopes of creating a more potent effect. Doing so can be extremely risky, leading to an increased tolerance, addiction and overdose.

What Are the Perils of Combining Vicodin and Alcohol?

Drinking while taking an opioid drug can lead to tragic consequences. Vicodin and alcohol are central nervous system depressants. Using them together magnifies these effects in a way that can lead to respiratory depression, brain damage, coma and death. 

Alcohol magnifies opioids’ sedative properties, which can lead to intoxication much more quickly. If you are taking Vicodin, either under a doctor’s orders or illicitly, even a small amount of alcohol can be dangerous. 

Under the influence of alcohol and Vicodin, a person will become uncoordinated with poor balance, putting them at a higher risk of falls and injuries. Memory loss will occur, and the user will have impaired judgment.

What Happens During an Overdose?

As depressants, alcohol and Vicodin slow down your brain’s and central nervous system’s ability to regulate your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. When you drink alcohol while using Vicodin, these life-sustaining functions can become severely compromised and sometimes start shutting down.

If someone you care about is combining Vicodin and alcohol, familiarizing yourself with these warning signs of an overdose could help you save their life in an emergency.

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Extreme confusion and disorientation
  • Excessive dizziness
  • Irregular and falling heart rate
  • Ragged or stopped breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Stupor
  • Weak pulse

Respiratory depression is one of the most hazardous side effects associated with an opioid overdose. As the user’s breathing slows or stops, it deprives their brain of oxygen. When this happens, other organ systems also start shutting down. Oxygen deprivation can result in brain damage. During an overdose, an opioid user can stop breathing, after which coma and death are likely.

Fortunately, it’s possible to reverse an opioid overdose by acting quickly. If your loved one uses Vicodin, either with a doctor’s supervision or recreationally, having a supply of naloxone on hand and knowing how to use it can save their life. Naloxone, sold under the brand names Narcan and Evzio, is an opioid antagonist that’s available in many states without a prescription.

Pandemic Accelerates Opioid Overdoses 

One of the tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the alarming increase in drug overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control reported more than 81,000 U.S. overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May 2020, which represents the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period.  

The stress, anxiety and uncertainty of living amid a pandemic have caused more people to self-medicate with drugs, worsening existing substance use disorders and creating new ones. Already, COVID-19 has killed more than 400,000 Americans and caused countless others to struggle with long-term disabilities like chronic fatigue, organ damage and brain fog. While news of two effective vaccines has been a bright spot in this crisis, the nationwide rollout has thus far been patchy, with approximately 60% of Americans saying they don’t know when or where they’ll be able to get vaccinated. 

Accredited Addiction Treatment During COVID-19

If you’re living with a substance misuse disorder, or you know a loved one who has started drinking or using drugs more heavily due to COVID-19, you might be wondering whether you can get treatment during a pandemic. As essential service providers, addiction treatment facilities like Beach House have remained open to help people during this challenging time. 

We have committed to keeping our campus one of the cleanest, safest places to pursue addiction recovery by implementing aggressive measures like sanitizing surfaces and providing rapid antigen testing to prevent asymptomatic spread. Reach out to us today to learn more about what makes us one of the nation’s best rehab centers.