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The Dangers of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

Teen male holding a glass of alcohol and a handful of Vicodin pills  

Vicodin is a prescription opioid pain killer. It is made up of a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Opioids and alcohol are often used in combination. However, there are dangers to mixing Vicodin and alcohol. Polydrug abuse, particularly among teenagers, is a concern that needs to be addressed.

Why Are Teens Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol?

Teens are more likely to use drugs like prescription opioids with alcohol because of the effects of mixing the drugs. Alcohol and Vicodin both act as sedatives and depress the body’s central nervous system. This makes the combination of Vicodin and alcohol both more addictive and dangerous. Teen access to prescription drugs remains an issue still today, with approximately 1 in 3 high school seniors (32.5%) reporting that prescription opioids were easily available to them in 2018.

What Happens When You Mix Vicodin and Alcohol

So what happens when alcohol and Vicodin are mixed? Essentially, alcohol enhances the effects of Vicodin. Likewise, Vicodin enhances the effects of alcohol. Because these are both central nervous system depressants, the combination of alcohol and Vicodin effects can be devastating. A depressant such as Vicodin alone will lower blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. When used in combination with alcohol, these effects are even more dramatic.

Dangers of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

Mixing alcohol and prescription drugs is dangerous. First, the repeated combination of alcohol and Vicodin can lead to liver damage. This is particularly true for opioids such as Vicodin because it is hydrocodone with acetaminophen, and too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage.

Vicodin and alcohol overdose is also a real possibility. Research has shown that alcohol plays a significant role in opioid-related hospitalizations and deaths. Teen alcohol use, in combination with the misuse of prescription Vicodin, is also dangerous. Teens, because they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, may combine these drugs without thinking about the effects it may have on their body. This further increases the potential for alcohol and Vicodin overdose by teens.

Prescription Drugs and Alcohol During the Teenage Years

Teenage drinking is not a new problem. However, teens mixing drugs and alcohol is a growing concern.

Other common drugs that teens abuse include cigarettes, marijuana, prescription opioids (such as Vicodin) and prescription stimulants (such as Adderall). Although a small proportion of teenagers do report the use of drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine, prescription drug abuse is more common.

So why are teens drawn to the combination of alcohol and prescription painkillers? Teenagers are likely to engage in risky behaviors and poor decision making in part due to the brain not being fully developed yet. Both alcohol and prescription opiates (such as Vicodin) are drugs of opportunity, particularly for teenagers. Finally, this combination of alcohol and prescription opiates are more socially acceptable among teenagers. Altogether, these factors can result in abuse, dependence or even death.

Find Treatment of Teen Substance Abuse

Research suggests that early alcohol use (before age 16) predicts later polysubstance dependence. The combination of alcohol use disorder and opiate dependence is particularly challenging in the clinical setting. For example, in one study, opiate-dependent patients with co-occurring alcohol use disorder were more likely to have had a history of extensive difficulties in psychosocial functioning. Teen treatment programs are important in order to care for these problems while individuals are still young.

Teen drug and alcohol rehab facilities are available to those who need them. Contact Next Generation Village to learn more about personalized and confidential services geared toward teenagers. Help is here; call today.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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