There’s a reason why most medications have a warning label against mixing with alcohol. In this specific instance, the danger of simultaneously using oxycodone and alcohol lies in that they have similar effects on the brain and central nervous system, although they do so in different ways. Both of these substances are depressants capable of causing irreparable harm to internal organs and a permanent imbalance of neurochemical levels. When combined, these two drugs make a deadly pair that amplifies each other’s negative effects and creates an entirely new host of dangers.
How They Work On Their Own
To better understand the risk that combining these drugs can cause, let’s look at how oxycodone and alcohol work independently.
Oxycodone is a fast-acting opioid and powerful pain reliever. It functions by binding to opioid receptors, slowing down messages to the brain while simultaneously triggering the release of dopamine. This results in pain relief and a feeling of euphoria or relaxation. With neurons no longer firing as normal, this depression of neuron activity causes multiple bodily functions including breathing, heartbeat, metabolism, and digestion to slow. This, in turn, can cause severe respiratory issues, low blood pressure, and constipation. Oxycodone can remain in the system for several days after the last use, making it dangerously easy to cause substance buildup within the body.
Alcohol, another depressant, causes a number of both chemical and physical changes within the body. Similar to oxycodone, alcohol also causes the slowing of neuron activity. Alcohol interrupts dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and glutamate circuits, each of which has some effect on mood, motor skills, cognitive functioning, and impulse control. Long-term alcohol abuse can cause permanent damage to the hippocampus and result in severe memory impairment. Physical long-term side effects include hypertension, cardiac stress, liver disease, digestive problems, and depression.
Side Effects of Oxycodone and Alcohol Combined
Even the most mundane medications (like an antifungal cream) can have dangerous repercussions when exposed to an opioid. So it goes without saying that adding alcohol to the mix is bad news.
- Dangerously slow breathing – The brain can shut down if it doesn’t get enough oxygen, this can lead to a coma or death
- Low blood pressure and cardiac distress
- Severely impaired memory or memory loss
- Drowsiness or unconsciousness
- Increased likelihood of addiction
Both of these drugs are depressants that have a significant impact on central nervous system functions, combining them can make existing side effects turn deadly. And besides making an already bad situation worse, using oxycodone and alcohol together can cause withdrawal symptoms to be even more severe.
Treating Polysubstance Abuse
Polydrug users, those who abuse or are addicted to multiple drugs, are at much greater risk of experiencing compounded drug side effects. This is often a result of individuals using multiple drugs to “balance” the other out and stabilize drug side effects. This is a dangerous practice that can cause toxic buildup within the body which can unleash an entirely new set of damage to the body.
Polysubstance abuse can be incredibly difficult to treat and the chance of relapse is significantly higher. Medical detox is recommended for circumstances like this, where the effects of having multiple drugs in a system can be severe and require medical intervention. If you or a loved one find yourself addicted to multiple drugs at the same time, consult a Level Up Lake Worth addiction professional today.