Hydrocodone and Alcohol
Polysubstance Abuse is the abuse of two or more substances. While this can involve any separate class of drugs, alcohol is often one of the substances. It is possible for someone to knowingly engage in polysubstance abuse, but it is also possible for someone to mix substances without realizing the dangers. Among many dangerous combinations is hydrocodone and alcohol. Mixing hydrocodone and alcohol presents a dangerous risk and it is smartest to avoid ever mixing the two.
Hydrocodone is an opioid meant to treat moderate to severe pain, often after alternative treatments fail to help. In recent years, the United States government has made it harder to prescribe, but it is still the most commonly prescribed opioid in the United States. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), hydrocodone is frequently obtained in a number of ways including “bogus call-in prescriptions, altered prescriptions, theft, and illicit purchases from Internet sources.”
Hydrocodone is an opioid agonist. It works by activating the opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS), which helps with pain management. Another common use for hydrocodone is as a cough suppressant. In addition to pain relief, some have reported feelings of euphoria. Hydrocodone is a CNS depressant, and with more serious side effects slows down critical nerve functions like breathing and cognitive ability.
Common side effects from hydrocodone include:
- Abnormally happy or sad mood
The DEA classifies drugs according to schedules. Schedule I has no accepted medical use. In 2014, hydrocodone was moved from Schedule III to Schedule II. While it has some accepted medical use, there is “a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Hydrocodone is not as potent as oxycodone, but is nearly as effective as morphine. Due to the high potential for abuse and dependence, it is difficult for someone to stop use without help. The more substances that are in the mix, the more difficult it is and the potential for dangerous outcomes increases significantly.
Most people are familiar with alcohol, one of the most widely used drugs in the world, and are aware of the potential for misuse and abuse. Still, many people fail to realize when alcohol use turns into something worse. By and large, alcohol use is socially acceptable. While moderate use is not necessarily a problem, few people realize how easy it is to become a problem. The daily limit for healthy women is 3 drinks and for men 65 and younger it is 4 drinks. Many people easily exceed this amount on numerous occasions.
There are significant potential health risks in consuming too much alcohol and this increases with other substances. Alcohol is a CNS depressant, which means it slows breathing, heart rate, and cognitive function.
Common side effects include:
- Slurred speech
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Impaired judgment
Depending on the severity of addiction, withdrawal from alcohol is incredibly uncomfortable and potentially very dangerous without proper care.
MIXING HYDROCODONE AND ALCOHOL
Sometimes when someone mixes substances they are hoping to enhance the positive effects. However, mixing also enhances the negative effects. Others might not be trying to experience any heightened effects, but are simply mixing substances without realizing the risk. Hydrocodone and alcohol are both CNS depressants making it incredibly dangerous to mix the two. This significantly increases the risk of overdose and death.
With hydrocodone becoming more difficult to obtain through legal prescriptions, many are unfortunately turning to other means to get the drug. Often this involves buying on the street, which poses a lot of danger. Many illicit substances are cut with other substances like fentanyl which is incredibly potent and the risk for overdose and death increases significantly. According to the CDC, synthetic opioids were involved in 67% of opioid-involved deaths in 2018.
If you ever know or suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, it is important to call 911 right away.
Addiction is a complex thing no matter the substance. It is easy to abuse substances, even those that are seemingly “less harmful”. With hydrocodone and alcohol, both substances have serious risk for abuse, dependence, and addiction. Moreover, with dependence and addiction, withdrawal is difficult and potentially dangerous to try alone. Whether you or someone you know is dealing with addiction to hydrocodone or alcohol, or both, it is important to seek the right care. At Mountain View, we understand how important it is to treat each issue and to treat each individual as a unique, whole person. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.