Typically when the warning or instruction label on a prescription medication bottle says “do not mix with alcohol” it’s a hard warning rather than a suggestion. Prescription medications are made out of numerous substances and complex formulae. Yet for some reason, we tend to think we know better than the scientists and pharmacists who give us multiple warnings not to take the medication with alcohol, or to expect severe results if we consume alcohol while taking the medication. For the alcoholically inclined, this creates somewhat of a conundrum. We know we are supposed to take the medication, but we also want to drink alcohol. Surely the effects couldn’t be so bad.
Sometimes we’re right. In some cases, we might be more prone to blackouts, which for some alcoholics, is a dangerous bonus feature. We could get more drunk more quickly, impair our judgment more severely, risk the health of our liver more than we are with our alcohol abuse, or cause other complications. What we don’t often consider, as considering consequences is not part of alcoholism, is that alcohol in combination with medication can cause death. Three of the leading medications that cause death when used with alcohol include Vicodin, a prescription opioid made with acetaminophen and hydrocodone, Tylenol, over the counter pain reliever made of acetaminophen, and Benadryl, an over the counter antihistamine. These medications and alcohol do not mix, for specific reasons.
Vicodin is a narcotic opioid substance, meaning it is a depressant. Depressant medications slow down the central nervous system, changing the pace for the way the heart, the brain, and other important organs function. Alcohol is also a depressant. Though it often feels like alcohol is turning us up, it is actually turning us down. Two depressants don’t make a right. Mixing alcohol with opiates can severely slow the system down. If the heart starts slowing to a stop due to the Vicodin and the brain is too intoxicated to notice because of the alcohol a very subtle and sad overdose can take place.
Alcohol was once used as an anesthetic and an analgesic during surgeries. Tylenol acts as an analgesic, a pain reliever, which is why it is a primary ingredient in most prescription painkillers like opioids. Too much Tylenol always has the warning of causing liver damage, as does too much alcohol. Together, alcohol and Tylenol can shut the liver down, slow the system down to create a dangerous level of numbness, and more.
If you are abusing alcohol with prescription or over the counter medications, you are risking your precious life. Life is worth living, free from drugs and alcohol. Call Lakehouse Recovery Center today for information on our residential detox and treatment programs where we will show you how to have fun again without substance abuse. 877.762.3707