Oxycodone and Alcohol

Estimated reading time: 34 minute(s)

Oxycodone is one of the most potent painkillers in the pharmaceutical industry. Categorized as a member of the opioid family, it is available on prescription and has been helping people fight severe pain resistant to other pain relief methods and lesser-potent remedies. Despite being effective at its job, oxycodone comes with various side effects, the most important one being a high risk of abuse and addiction.

With approximately 2 million people reporting oxycodone addiction, the matter is getting serious with every passing day. Most of these people begin using the medication for a legitimate medical reason, for example, managing postoperative pain but carry on its use because of its euphoric or sedative effects. Eventually, they develop a dependence, causing them to not only continue its use but also resort to other methods to reinforce its effects. One such method that many opioid addicts use for reinforcing oxycodone’s effects is combining it with alcohol.

As more and more people turn to mixing oxycodone with alcohol, the risk of experiencing life-threatening side effects continues to increase. This deadly combination not only makes daily activities difficult but also puts a person’s life in danger. The problem can quickly become severe, and getting out of the cycle of abuse often requires professional intervention.

Oxycodone and Alcohol Addiction: An Outline

Oxycodone and alcohol remain the drugs of choice for many people worldwide. For many of them, both of them exist at the same time and are termed co-occurring disorders. These addictions can lead to significant consequences on their everyday well-being and health, and the problems can quickly become life-threatening, potentiating medical emergencies that require urgent help and intervention.

There are several reasons why an individual may resort to using alcohol and oxycodone together. These reasons include the following:

  • Mixing both substances to enhance the pleasurable and euphoric effects
  • To overcome tolerance and experience the usual euphoria
  • To increase sedation levels to overcome an underlying pain disorder

What Happens if You Mix Oxycodone with Alcohol?

With alcohol becoming a part of daily life, many people continue to drink it despite being on many medications, including oxycodone. Such people are unaware of the potential consequences and risks of complications that this combination can lead to. Both substances carry an ability to depress all bodily functions and damage certain vital organs, and their combination can exacerbate these side effects. It can also potentially send a person into respiratory depression where they continue to suffocate until the body succumbs if no help is sought.

Mentioned below are some common side effects of mixing oxycodone and alcohol:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired motor function
  • Respiratory depression
  • Liver damage and toxicity
  • Worsening medical conditions
  • Increased risk of overdose
  • Impaired judgment

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, the combination of oxycodone and alcohol can also cause the following issues:

Respiratory Depression

Respiratory depression is a condition in which an individual’s breathing rate slows down to a dangerously low level. When this happens, the oxygen supply to the brain diminishes, and the cells begin to die. The condition can quickly become life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Both alcohol and opioid drugs carry an ability to depress the central nervous system and their combination can lead to life-threatening side effects. Excessive sedation can also impair an individual’s ability to recognize the signs of potential respiratory depression. This may delay them from seeking urgent help and increase the risk of complications, including a risk of death.


Alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system, and consuming it pushes an individual into a state of sleepiness or drowsiness. Opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone, also carry similar effects with strong sedation and drowsiness. When combined, both substances amplify each other’s effects to the extent that they may leave a person incapable of carrying out everyday activities. Excessive sedation can also cause drowsiness, inadequate motor function, and reduced reaction times. It can be dangerous for people as they engage in risky activities, such as operating heavy machinery or driving. Moreover, the high sedation levels may cause accidents, falls, and other injuries.

Liver Damage

Both oxycodone and alcohol can impact the liver, triggering extensive damage. The damage drastically increases the risk of liver toxicity. The liver is primarily responsible for metabolizing both opioids and alcohol and when the levels of these drugs become increasingly high, the organ sustains damage.

Alcohol is a known hepatotoxin that damages the liver cells and induces inflammation. The beverage alone can lead to conditions, such as liver failure and alcoholic liver disease. Painkillers, on the other hand, can also affect the liver, especially when taken in high doses. These high doses overwhelm the organ, leading to liver cell inflammation, damage, and even failure in severe cases.

Increased Risk of Overdose & Addiction

Taking oxycodone and alcohol together can significantly increase the risk of acquiring an overdose and addiction. As an opioid painkiller, oxycodone is commonly used to manage moderate to severe pain due to its ability to bind to opioid receptors and block pain signals. When taken with alcohol, the medication exerts addictive effects on the central nervous system, causing sedation, respiratory depression, and motor function impairment. These effects increase the risk of an overdose, especially in people who combine one or both of these drugs in higher quantities.

In the long run, combining oxycodone with alcohol can increase the risk of experiencing addiction. Both substances are essentially habit-forming, and using them together significantly increases the risk of dependence. This dependence can take a toll on everyday life, decreasing the overall quality. Moreover, it may also cause problems, such as relationship issues, financial troubles, and loss of employment.

Tips to Avoid the Simultaneous Oxycodone and Alcohol Use

If a person is going through a tough time and find themselves tempted to use alcohol and painkillers, such as oxycodone, together, the following tips may keep them from turning to this potentially lethal combination:

Acknowledge the consequences

For someone struggling with drug abuse, it is essential to understand the consequences if they give in to temptation. Using alcohol and oxycodone at once can lead to many side effects, including high-risk ones like overdoses. Reconsidering these consequences and constantly reminding themselves can help people combat cravings.

Do not engage in risky situations

People who have been experiencing cravings to use alcohol and oxycodone together must avoid places where these substances might co-exist, such as nightclubs, parties, or even a friend’s house. This is because once exposed to the combination; they may find it challenging to say no. Having a plan of escape when they encounter such situations accidentally is also essential.

Find addiction support

Try to find people to rely on during tough times instead of turning to substance use. Support can mean different things to different people. For some, it means counting on their loved ones to help them get out of the danger zone while for others, the only way out is through professional addiction treatment programs and support groups. Find what suits yourself the best and keep hold of it to move towards recovery slowly.

Accept responsibility

Accept that addiction professionals and loved ones can only support you through your recovery journey. The onus of learning your triggers and managing them, in the long run, is on you. Learn from your past situations, avoid risky situations, and know how to handle when circumstances get tricky.

Treating Oxycodone and Alcohol Addiction

A person who has been mixing oxycontin and alcohol for a prolonged time is at risk of experiencing addiction to both. In such situations, it may be difficult to stop using them despite the negative consequences. The best way out of this situation is through a professional treatment program that helps patients break out of addictions and safely stop the underlying abuse without any health risks. The process of quitting oxycodone and alcohol can be dangerous and may involve serious withdrawal symptoms. However, a detox and rehabilitation facility provides supervised programs to overcome them and achieve a sober life safely and comfortably.


Most programs for oxycodone and alcohol dependency begin with an in-depth detoxification step where experts help individuals fight the common withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively. Some of these withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Panic attacks
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Shakiness in hands
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Delirium tremens, a life-threatening issue that leads to delusions and hallucinations
  • Full-body tremors

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab Programs

Inpatient programs for alcohol and oxycodone addiction offer a combination of treatments and therapies while living on-site under 24/7 supervision. Outpatient rehabs, on the other hand, may offer therapy and counseling without the need to shift home. 

Counseling Sessions

Counseling sessions take place in different formats, such as individual and group sessions, where patients discuss their everyday struggles with substance use. 

12-Step Programs

Many treatment centers providing addiction services also provide clients access to 12-step programs. These groups include conducting meetings where people with similar struggles with alcohol and opioid use come together to share their struggles, issues, and recovery stories. The aim is to instill hope and encouragement in people to fight their addictions and achieve sobriety. 

Harm Reduction Services

Harm reduction services involve managing substance use as a health issue instead of a crime while encouraging people to learn and apply safer practices in daily life. These services take place under expert supervision. 

Psychiatric Care

As a part of psychiatric care, medical professionals provide mental services to cater to ongoing psychiatric issues, such as depression and anxiety alongside treating addictions to oxycodone and alcohol. 

Support Groups

Support groups run in person or online and include various people, including family members of people fighting substance abuse. The purpose of these support groups is to:

  • Discuss personal struggles
  • Share experiences
  • Find support for overall needs
  • Encourage sobriety


Is oxycodone addictive?

Belonging to a class of powerful painkiller drugs called opioids, oxycodone is highly addictive and can easily induce physical dependence in people who have been using it for a long time. The medication works by binding to specific receptors in the brain called opioid receptors to trigger feelings of euphoria and relaxation. A person who uses this medication daily may become habitual of feeling this relaxing sensation and may experience withdrawal symptoms upon quitting it.

Can you drink alcohol while taking oxycodone?

Alcohol is one of the most popular beverages in the world; however, its safety profile is extremely poor due to its potential to interact with thousands of medications, including oxycodone. Hence, experts strictly advise patients not to combine it with oxycodone as it may lead to multiple side effects.

How often do people mix oxy and alcohol?

Substance abuse of any kind, including alcohol and opioid addiction, remains among the top health concerns worldwide. Thousands of people die due to alcohol-related incidents every year in the United States as the country continues to fight the opioid epidemic side by side. Statistics suggest that up to 130 people in the US die due to opioid overdoses. Hence, mixing Oxycontin and alcohol remains a common issue in the country.

How long after taking oxycodone can I drink alcohol?

According to experts, it is not safe to drink alcohol in any amount at any time as long as a person is using oxycodone. Combining alcohol with over-the-counter substances, such as ibuprofen and Tylenol, can prove dangerous. People who quit their drinking habits because of underlying alcohol dependence should inform their healthcare provider regarding their issue so that they can get adequate treatment and avoid potential side effects.

Can I take any other painkiller with alcohol without experiencing any risks or side effects?

Most painkillers, both prescription-based and over-the-counter, can cause side effects when you combine them with alcohol. Some of these side effects may include difficulty breathing, impaired motor control, unusual behaviors, drowsiness, and issues with the liver and kidneys. Such combinations may also lead to overdoses if a person is not careful regarding their dosages. Hence, always consult a doctor before combining any painkiller with alcohol.

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