Relaxing, destressing and completely turning off reality for a short time is a desire of almost every adult. Reaching a calm, unplugged state of mind as often as possible is also a necessity to truly decompress from challenges and stressors.
Understandably, tranquil feelings can be hard to reach when emotions and anxiety reach consistent, overwhelming levels. For some individuals, a powerful quick fix is believed to be the best or only way to deal with the ebbs and flows of life.
Some prefer to escape with the help of alcohol. Others have discovered just how sedating their opioid prescription painkiller – such as Oxycodone – can be, and choose to abuse pain pills to set the mind and body at ease. Both of these scenarios are dangerous, but there is an even more treacherous route to flipping the off switch: mixing Oxycodone and alcohol.
Oxycodone and Alcohol Interaction
While the combination of alcohol and Oxycodone – also known by its brand name, OxyContin – can deliver a number of serious side effects, none are more life-threatening than depressed breathing.
The Oxycodone and alcohol interaction is a double hit to the respiratory system. Since both substances on their own slow down an individual’s breathing rate, the mind and body can severely struggle to retrieve enough oxygen to function normally and remain alive.
If the body cannot get enough oxygen during a heavy intoxication period, an overdose can occur, and the brain will start to shut down vital organ systems. It’s also not uncommon for an individual to slip into a coma and stop breathing from mixing Oxycodone and alcohol.
If an individual survives an Oxycodone and alcohol overdose, there is a high chance that brain damage occurred due to lack of oxygen.
With the staggering increase in opioid addictions across the country in recent decades, addicts who are chasing a better, stronger high are turning to beer, liquor or wine to enhance the pill’s sedation effects. Unfortunately, the Oxycodone and alcohol interaction has added an unpredictable and lethal element to the opioid crisis.
Oxycodone and Alcohol Side Effects
A recipe of Oxycodone and alcohol can prove deadly even in small doses. Even if an individual takes their Oxycodone pain pill as prescribed by their doctor and drinks a minuscule amount of alcohol, the drugs can enhance each other’s side effects and greatly increase the likelihood of an overdose.
Even alone, alcohol and Oxycodone deliver strong side effects.
Alcohol Intoxication Symptoms
While alcohol is a legal substance, and consumed regularly by many Americans, ingesting large quantities can cause an individual to experience:
- Excessive mood swings
- Increased emotionality
- Slurred speech
- Fogged memory and poor cognitive abilities
- Impaired or loss of physical coordination
- Irregular and slowed heartbeat
- Slowed blood pressure
- Blurry or double vision
- Impaired judgment
- Depressed breathing
Since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, an individual’s body temperature will drop, and levels of serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are raised during intoxication. When these series of events happen, an individual will feel relaxed and happy, but also lethargic and less inhibited – which can lead to poor choices and risky behavior.
As mentioned before, alcohol will also increase the painkilling and tranquilizing effects of opioid medications. In turn, alcohol can lead to amplified drowsiness and loss of consciousness.
Oxycodone Intoxication Symptoms
Like any medication, if Oxycodone is taken as prescribed by a doctor, intoxicating symptoms are minor, with pain relief felt in the post-surgery or injury area. Overall, opioid-based painkillers, like Oxycodone, tend to make individuals feel more tired than normal since they are also central nervous system depressants. Prescribed amounts should never cause an individual to struggle to breathe or lose consciousness.
When oxycodone is abused, an individual can experience:
- Inability to remain awake
- Nausea or vomiting
- Depressed breathing
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) requires warnings labels be placed on all medication bottles that firmly counsels individuals to avoid alcohol while taking the drug to prevent threatening complications and negative interactions.
Oxycodone & Alcohol Intoxication Symptoms
When taken together, regardless of the dosage of each substance, alcohol and Oxycodone become a deadly mixture and produce the following severe side effects:
- Uncharacteristic behavior
- Loss of coordination
- Irregular heart rate and blood pressure
- Cardiovascular instability
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory arrest
These are all pre- and red-flag warning signs of a potential overdose.
Since Oxycodone is manufactured in a time-release capsule, the pain relief effects may be delayed. To speed up the numbing effects, alcohol can be introduced, along with Oxycodone being crushed and then snorted, smoked or injected. Any mixture and route of consumption can result in dangerous and life-threatening side effects that can surface suddenly and without warning.
According to the Pain News Network, alcohol is believed to be involved in over 15 percent of all drug overdoses.
It cannot be overstated enough: mixing Oxycodone and alcohol is unpredictable and can lead to life-altering side effects and/or an unintentional and fatal overdose.
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Pain News Network. A Deadly Mix: Opioids and Alcohol. Accessed September 6, 2018. https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2017/2/14/a-deadly-mix-opioids-and-alcohol.