The Risks of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

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In today’s world, where good health and well-being are of utmost importance, it’s becoming increasingly crucial to grasp the possible dangers that hide behind choices that might seem harmless at first glance. A particularly risky intersection exists where Vicodin and alcohol meet – a combination that might appear innocent but can harm our bodies and minds. By looking into the risks of mixing Vicodin and alcohol together, individuals can see the potentially life-threatening side effects and make informed decisions before combining them.

In this article, we will discuss the effects of Vicodin and alcohol, what happens if an individual does mix the two, signs an individual is misusing the substances, and the potential for overdose.

Understanding Vicodin and Alcohol

To properly understand the risks of mixing Vicodin and alcohol, first, we must understand the substances separately.

Vicodin, a prescription medication, is composed of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It often manages moderate to severe pain following surgical procedures or injuries. Hydrocodone, an opioid analgesic, binds to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing pain perception. On the other hand, acetaminophen helps lower fever and enhance the analgesic effects of hydrocodone.

Alcohol, a central nervous system depressant, is known for its sedative effects, altering cognitive function and lowering inhibitions. Moderate alcohol consumption may have some cardiovascular benefits when adhering to recommended guidelines. However, excessive or binge drinking can lead to a range of health problems, including liver disease, cognitive impairments, and addiction.

person holding a glass of alcohol in one hand and pills in the other hand

The Effects of Vicodin

The side effects of taking Vicodin are similar to those of other opioids due to the presence of hydrocodone, which is an opioid painkiller. Hydrocodone works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, altering the perception of pain and producing certain side effects. The addition of acetaminophen in Vicodin enhances its pain-relieving effects, although it can also introduce its own side effects. Some of the most common side effects may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Respiratory depression
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings

The Effects of Alcohol

The consumption of alcohol can have a wide range of effects on the body and mind, both short-term and long-term. These effects can vary depending on factors such as the amount of alcohol consumed, the individual’s tolerance, and overall health. While moderate alcohol consumption may not always result in significant side effects, excessive or chronic drinking can lead to various negative consequences. Some of the most common side effects may include:

  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Memory loss
  • Liver damage
  • Increased heart rate
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Slurred speech

Read More: What Are The Social Effects Of Alcohol?

man looking down with alcohol and pills on table

What Happens if You Mix Vicodin and Alcohol?

Many individuals may mix Vicodin and alcohol to enhance the effects of each substance. However, mixing Vicodin with alcohol can have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences. As both Vicodin and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, they may slow down the activity in the brain. When taken separately, each substance may cause drowsiness, impair cognitive function, and decrease respiratory function. When combined, the effects intensify, resulting in deadly consequences.

When taken together, Vicodin and alcohol can severely slow brain activity. This heightened effect can result in dangerously slowed breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. In the most severe cases of this, it may result in unconsciousness, coma, or even death.

Signs You Are Misusing Vicodin and Alcohol

Taking two or more substances together is commonly referred to as polysubstance abuse. This action is a sign that the individual is experiencing addiction. Some individuals may not recognize that they are misusing Vicodin and alcohol together. However, as noted above, mixing them together can have serious health consequences, and recognizing the signs of misuse is imperative to avoid these consequences. Some of the most common signs that an individual may be misusing Vicodin and alcohol can include the following:

  • Increased Tolerance and Higher Doses: If you find yourself needing larger amounts of Vicodin or alcohol to achieve the desired effects, it could indicate misuse. Tolerance develops when the body becomes accustomed to the substances, leading to decreased effectiveness at lower doses.
  • Taking Medication Without Prescription: Using Vicodin without a valid prescription is a clear sign of misuse. Obtaining or using prescription medication without proper medical supervision is risky and potentially illegal.
  • Mixing Substances Regularly: Consistently combining Vicodin and alcohol, despite knowing the potential side effects, suggests a disregard for the associated risks. This behavior increases the likelihood of harmful interactions and overdose.
  • Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms: When an individual stops combining Vicodin and alcohol, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. These may include nausea, sweating, shaking, or anxiety. This also suggests a physical dependence on the substances, indicating addiction.

Learn More: What is Polysubstance Abuse?

man overdosing on alcohol and pills

Can You Overdose by Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol?

In short, yes, you can overdose by mixing Vicodin and alcohol. Mixing alcohol and opioids increases the risk of overdose. According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, alcohol was a factor in 14.7% of opioid-related deaths. This study also found that overdoses that involved the use of both alcohol and Vicodin increased 5.5 times between 1999 and 2017.

This data showcases the dangers of mixing Vicodin and alcohol, which can lead to overdose. If an individual is prescribed Vicodin, they should take extra caution when drinking alcohol or avoid it altogether. Adhering to medical guidelines gives individuals a better chance of not experiencing dangerous side effects or becoming addicted to either substance.

Opioid and Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Launch Centers

If an individual is consistently mixing Vicodin and alcohol together, they may be experiencing opioid and alcohol addiction. It is possible that an individual is only experiencing one of these addictions. However, receiving treatment for any drug abuse is crucial in addressing these behaviors. Once an individual recognizes that they may have an addiction, it’s essential to receive the proper addiction treatment services.

At Launch Centers, we provide holistic, comprehensive, and trauma-informed mental health and addiction treatment services. We treat a variety of alcohol and drug addictions, to ensure we can help anyone overcome their addiction. Not only do we individually treat addictions, but we also treat polysubstance abuse to help those who are mixing substances together. We offer various therapy modalities, life skill training, and outpatient and inpatient services to address every aspect of addiction.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use disorders, contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD


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Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

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