Combining alcohol with any other psychoactive substances can be very risky. However, using Percocet, a prescription narcotic, in conjunction with alcohol can produce some unique complications. Percocet includes a combination of the opioid oxycodone and acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), a common over-the-counter pain reliever.
Mixing Percocet and Alcohol
When used as prescribed, this combination of pain relievers can be very effective at treating moderate-severe pain after surgery, an injury, illness. However, Percocet is intended only for short-term treatment, and due to its potential for addiction, this drug is not often appropriate for chronic pain—except possibly for cancer patients or end-of-life care.
Because Percocet reaches the bloodstream rapidly and the effects wane within 4-6 hours, this drug is often associated with misuse, dependence, and addiction. People who are battling a Percocet addiction may also drink alcohol to enhance the effects of the opioid. Importantly, combining opioids and alcohol can lead to a life-threatening overdose, and consuming alcohol in addition to acetaminophen can rapidly result in liver damage.
Both alcohol and oxycodone can produce feelings of relaxation, reward, and pleasure. Alcohol also increases the sedating effects of oxycodone, and this can be very hazardous. The individual could pass out and incur an injury from a fall or other accident. They could also regurgitate while unconscious, which could cause the person to choke and asphyxiate on their own vomit.
The leading cause of complications from using oxycodone with alcohol is respiratory depression. If this occurs, the individual’s breathing will slow, become very shallow, labored, or even stop altogether. This effect eventually results in oxygen deprivation, and without immediate medical intervention, organs will begin to fail, eventually causing death.
Signs of Percocet and Alcohol Use
The combined effects of Percocet and alcohol are no different than using alcohol in conjunction with any other opioid. Both substances depress breathing and those who ingest this potentially lethal cocktail will likely have severely impaired judgment and may be a danger to both themselves and others.
The presence of narcotic painkillers also reduces alcohol tolerance. While a person who is combining Percocet and alcohol may merely appear extremely intoxicated by alcohol, the two substances, in fact, amplify the effects of each other. Because of this, the risk of an overdose is actually much higher.
Effects of concurrent Percocet and alcohol use may include the following:
- Inability to focus
- Low blood pressure
- Liver failure
- Profoundly depressed respiration
- Heart attack
Treating an Opioid Overdose
Naloxone is a drug that has become vital for reversing opioid overdoses. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), on average, 115 people die of overdoses related to opioids in the U.S. each day. For this reason, it has become increasingly common for first responders and caregivers to have naloxone readily available in the event they need to administer it to stop an opioid overdose in progress.
Naloxone is a highly effective opioid overdose-reversal drug, but it may be less effective when other substances are present in an individual’s system. Moreover, drinking alcohol and using Percocet may make reversing an overdose more challenging.
In recent years, many medical professionals have expressed concern over the number of acetaminophen overdoses that occur. Although it is not easy to accidentally overdose on acetaminophen on its own, it can be found in many over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, including cold and flu medications, treatments for headaches, allergy medications, and even medicines used for to help induce sleep.
Few over-the-counter medications contain more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dose, and the doses should be spaced as directed to avoid an overdose. But unfortunately, unintentional acetaminophen poisoning is common and can result in liver damage and failure. Alcoholism is also closely associated with liver damage, so consuming high amounts of acetaminophen in conjunction with alcohol can increase the risk and rate at which damage occurs to the liver.
Is it unlikely to incur much liver damage by drinking alcohol and taking a single dose of acetaminophen, but chronic abuse of drugs such as Percocet in conjunction with heavy drinking may inevitably lead to liver damage. Even those who take Percocet as prescribed and also drink to excess regularly can cause some amount of damage to their livers.
Furthermore, combining acetaminophen and alcohol can result in damage to the lining of the stomach, which increases the risk that the person will develop ulcers. If left untreated, these painful sores can open and become infected, possibly leading to life-threatening bleeding and infection.
Getting Help for Percocet and Alcohol Abuse
When an individual is abusing or dependent upon two or more substances, this condition is referred to as polysubstance abuse. Issues related to both drugs must be addressed simultaneously to achieve the best outcome for the person who is engaging in this behavior.
Research has found that polysubstance abuse is most effectively treated using an integrated approach to addiction, including evidence-based services beneficial for the sustainment of long-term recovery. These include, but are not limited to, psychotherapy, counseling, peer group support, and aftercare planning. Just Believe Recovery employs compassionate addiction professionals who deliver these services to persons whom we treat with care and expertise.
If you or someone that you love is abusing Percocet and alcohol or any other substances, we urge you to contact our center today to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help you break free from the shackles of addiction for life!