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If I’m Addicted to Alcohol, Can I Use Prescription Pills?

Combining prescription pills with alcohol can be dangerous. Alcohol amplifies the effects of almost all drugs, and combining alcohol with opioid painkillers or benzodiazepines can result in fatality.

In addition, alcoholics often have compromised health to begin with, so they may suffer troubling side effects with greater frequency and severity than does the general population. Regular, heavy alcohol consumption makes drinker more susceptible to serious and possibly fatal liver damage, which also increases overdose of acetaminophen (a pain medication found in many prescription drugs).

If you are an alcoholic, tell your doctor. She understands the nature of alcoholism, the way alcoholics react to certain drugs and the need to consider that condition when prescribing medication. Your doctor is concerned first and foremost with your health and well-being, has taken a solemn oath to treat you to the best of her ability and she is not there to judge you. Failure to inform your doctor about your alcoholism may result in serious damage.

Can I Mix Alcohol and Opiates?

Opioid painkillers like hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) and oxycodone (Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin) are capable of causing death by overdose when used alone, but combining them with alcohol is quite dangerous. Both substances are central nervous system (CNS) depressants; combining two or more CNS depressants greatly increases the risk of overdose death. Death from overdose is usually caused by depressed breathing. Drinking alcohol while taking opioid painkillers is extremely risky and may be a ticket to the morgue.

Can I Mix Alcohol and Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) are often prescribed for anxiety or insomnia. Benzodiazepines and alcohol are both sedative/hypnotics as well as CNS depressants. Combining sedatives together is very risky. Benzodiazepines usually do not cause overdose death by themselves, but combining them with alcohol may lead to coma or death.

Benzodiazepines produce tolerance, meaning that over time more of the drug is needed to achieve a high. As an alcoholic you have most likely experienced this phenomenon first-hand. Furthermore, since alcohol and benzodiazepines are both sedatives, they are cross-tolerant with each other, meaning that a tolerance for one automatically produces a tolerance for the other. In other words, if you already have a tolerance for alcohol, then it is likely that benzodiazepine drugs will affect as greatly. As a result you may be tempted to take higher doses than recommended to achieve the desired effect; combining high doses of benzodiazepines with alcohol is extremely dangerous and greatly increases the chance of overdose.

Help with Alcoholism and Prescription Drug Abuse

If you are an alcoholic, inform your doctor, especially in the event that he prescribes medication. If you have any questions about alcoholism, prescription drugs, addiction or treatment, call us. Our helpline is toll free and we are available 24 hours a day.