Mixing Prescription Drugs with Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the world. Its ease of manufacture ensures it is readily available in all countries, and it was responsible for 79,000 deaths in 2010 in the United States alone.A number of deaths and hospitalizations due to alcohol are caused by mixing prescription drugs and alcohol. Because people tend to view alcohol as relatively harmless, they are sometimes unprepared for the effects of drugs and alcohol combined. In addition, some people routinely abuse prescription drugs and alcohol, as they are technically prescribed for a legal purpose. With the rise of online pharmacies making it relatively easy for anyone to get their drug of their choice, it is hard to tell how many people have abused prescription drugs. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are narcotic painkillers, sedatives, tranquillizers, and stimulants.

Information on Mixing Specific Prescription Drugs with Alcohol

Narcotic Painkillers

Narcotic painkillers usually refer to opioids such as morphine, hydrocodone, heroin or codeine. These painkillers are addictive when used improperly, and they have to be carefully managed. Combining these prescription medicines with alcohol may lower your breathing to the point where it stops. Even decreased levels of breathing can cause substantial complications such as cyanosis, cell death, and coma. In addition, some slow-release opioid pills can be dissolved by alcohol, which may release a day's worth of opioid over the course of 20 minutes. This can cause other complications such as overdose.

Sedatives and tranquillizers

Tranquillizers such as benzodiazepines and sedatives such as barbiturates are prescribed to aid in sleep or to affect anesthesia. However, these prescription drugs depress the central nervous system, which means that when taken in combination with alcohol, their effects are magnified. This can be very dangerous, as the central nervous system is responsible for ensuring everything is functioning within the body. If this is severely suppressed, basic functions such as breathing and heartbeats stop, leading to death. However, a so-called paradoxical effect may occur where the combination leads to increased agitation and anxiety. Either way, abusing alcohol and sedatives or tranquillizers is always a bad idea. In addition, sleep functions become severely impaired, meaning you cannot concentrate when awake.


While there are many stimulants available, the two most abused ones are amphetamines and cocaine. Amphetamines, such as MDMA and Adderal, are extremely fast acting, and they give the user a sense of euphoria and well-being. In addition, they are often used by people who need to stay awake for long periods of time. However, combining amphetamines with alcohol means that you can literally work yourself to death, as the British cyclist, Tom Simpson, who died of exhaustion in 1967 found out. The diuretic effects combined with the heat and exercise proved fatal.

Cocaine is occasionally used as an effective local anesthetic, but it is much more commonly used as an illicit stimulant. Combining cocaine and alcohol results in cocaethylene, which is a more toxic substance, but it results in a longer high. Cardiac arrest is not an uncommon occurrence when these two substances are combined. It also puts extra strain on the heart as both amphetamines and cocaine make it beat a lot faster.

In general, alcohol is quite dangerous when abused with any prescription drug. In general, it will react in some way that exacerbates the risks already associated with the prescription drug. If you or you know someone who is abusing prescription drugs and alcohol, please make the free call. You can get advice 24 hours a day on how to help someone with addictions to prescription drugs and alcohol.

Treatment is vital, as prescription drug abuse can be as devastating as the condition it was meant to help with. There are drugs that can help with the withdrawal and counseling can help with the reasons for abuse and prevent it from happening again. As alcohol abuse combined with prescription drugs can create severe complications, you need to see someone who can help.