Oxycodone and alcohol are a deadly combo. In terms of polydrug use, they’re perhaps two of the worst illicit substances that you can use at the same time. Both substances tend to enhance the effects of the other; as a result, it increases the risk of overdoses. Side effects are also magnified.
Those who regularly mix alcohol and oxycodone should familiarize themselves with the side effects. These drug abusers should be aware of just how dangerous of a predicament they are putting themselves in. It’s vital that they check themselves into a rehab center before it’s too late. Many of the leading treatment centers in America are well aware of the dangerous of polydrug abuse. They are well-versed in the type of interactions that various substances have with one another. They also have specialized programs that help deal with this predicament.
Read on to learn more about the dangers of mixing oxycodone and alcohol. We’ll explore the effects of each substance, as well as how they interact with the body and mind.
Statistics on Oxycodone and Alcohol Abuse
Both opiate and alcohol addiction has become an epidemic in America. These two substances are some of the most abused substances in all of America. To get a better idea of how strong of a hold these two substances have, consider these statistics:
- 53 million oxycodone prescriptions were filled by U.S. pharmacies in 2013; this increase in prescriptions is driving America’s oxycodone addiction
- 1 in 30 high school seniors have abused OxyContin at least once
- opioids, like oxycodone, claimed over 42,000 lives in 2016
- America consumed 81% of the world’s supply of oxycodone
- 1 in 8 Americans are addicted to alcohol and require alcohol treatment to get sober
- Over 88,000 overdose from alcohol on an annual basis
- more than 10% of children live with alcoholic parents in 2010 according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Opiate and alcohol rehab will help drug abusers and addicts wean off of substance abuse and addiction. Even if you’re not addicted to either substance, there’s a good chance that you have a loved one that is. If you notice that someone around you is struggling with an addiction, reach out to them and see if they need help. They need your support more than ever.
What Does Oxycodone Do to the Body?
Oxycodone is a prescription drug that’s also a Schedule II controlled substance. It’s mainly used for treating moderate to severe pain.
There’s still some debate on how oxycodone works. However, scientists have determined that the prescription drug attaches to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). This, then, alters a person’s ability to feel pain. Oxycodone causes an influx of certain neurotransmitters into the body. One of the main neurotransmitters is dopamine. Dopamine regulates emotions, as well. This neurotransmitter makes drug abusers feel euphoric. This change in neurochemical levels is responsible for the addictive nature of opioids.
Another thing that oxycodone does is help the user relax. It accomplishes this by suppressing the respiratory system. A drug user’s breathing and heart rate will slow down. An overdose can lead to breathing problems, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, confusion or seizures. Oxycodone overdoses are often fatal. If you know someone who has experienced an overdose, it’s wise to consider using one of many intervention programs to help them see how dangerous their habit has become.
Effects of Oxycodone Abuse
All types of substance abuse comes with varying types of side effects. The effects of drugs can be quite dangerous. Prescription opioids are no different. While the types of side effects experienced will vary from person to person, some of the more common effects include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulties concentrating
- Dizziness or fainting
- Dry mouth
- Exhaustion and tiredness
- Pain relief
- Stiff muscles
- Stomach aches and pain
- Vomiting and nausea
In most situations, oxycodone is taken orally as a pill. However, some drug abusers may inject oxycodone to get a more intense high. Some of the side effects involved with injecting oxycodone include vein damage and scarring. Those who share needles are also more prone to blood-borne infections and diseases.
What Does Alcohol Do to the Body?
Alcohol is one of the most consumed substances in America. When consumed, 20% of the alcohol gets absorbed by the stomach and 80% gets absorbed by the small intestine. Once it is ingested, it gets broken down by an enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase.
Alcohol will then interfere and affect many other neurological pathways. Some of the most common pathways affected include
the dopamine, serotonin, γ-amino butyric acid (GABA) and glutamate pathways.
The dopamine pathway affects the mesolimbic system. It handles incentive motivations and feelings of euphoria. An influx of dopamine causes alcoholics to become overwhelmed with euphoric sensations. Dopamine changes the brain chemistry at the nucleus accumbens. This reinforces alcohol dependence.
Some studies have also proven that withdrawals are caused by a decrease in dopamine. Withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge as dopamine levels decrease. This also encourages relapses. Many treatment programs monitor dopamine levels in their patient. Some recovery centers even inject low doses of a compound that interferes with dopamine into the nucleus accumbens to prevent withdrawals.
Serotonin is also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HTP. The depletion of this neurotransmitter can lead to impulsivity and alcohol-seeking behavior. Many addiction specialists prescribe prescription medications that target the serotonin system. By suppressing serotonin reuptake, alcohol-reinforced behavior can be suppressed.
Another neurochemical pathway affected by alcohol is the GABA pathway. GABA is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter. It attaches to two different receptors in the brain: GABAA and GABAB.
Alcohol suppresses GABAA and stimulates GABAB in the brain. By binding to GABAA, alcohol has a depressive effect on the central nervous system (CNS). This causes alcoholics to feel relaxed. It’s also what’s responsible for cardiac and respiratory depression in an overdose. The binding to GABAB receptors also increases GABA in certain regions of the brain. (See: how long does alcohol stay in your system?) With long-term alcohol exposure, the GABA systems become altered.
A major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain is glutamate. Alcohol inhibits glutamate activity in the brain. Acute alcohol exposure causes a drop in extracellular glutamate levels in the striatum. This slows down your brain and basically causes it to relax. This causes the thoughts, speech and movement of alcoholics to slow down. This is why many alcoholics will stumble and fall down or do other clumsy things.
The Dangers of Mixing Oxycodone with Alcohol
The effects of alcohol and oxycodone are quite similar to one another. This is why many drug abusers love this combination. Those who have developed a tolerance to oxycodone can magnify the effects by drinking alcohol. The same is true for the reverse.
There’s a reason why no doctor will prescribe oxycodone to an alcoholic. Both substances depress the nervous system. This increases one’s risk for cardiac and respiratory depression and failure. Mixing both alcohol and oxycodone together can cause some significant organ and brain damage to the body. In worst-case scenarios, the abuser may even experience a fatal overdose. Since the addiction can be so dangerous and deadly, drug abusers absolutely must seek professional help from addiction treatment centers. 24-hour supervision is mandatory. These patients are much more likely to develop some type of serious side effect when trying to get sober.
Those who abuse oxycodone and alcohol are more likely to become addicted to both of them. They’ll have a much harder time trying to get sober. People who are prone to oxycodone or alcohol abuse will also be more likely to relapse. Their cravings are stronger, and their withdrawal symptoms become much more intense. Many patients will find it difficult to overcome the withdrawal symptoms without relapsing at least once. Mixing drugs and alcohol always lead to more complications.
Common Alcohol and Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
One of the most frequently asked questions about the treatment is the type of withdrawal symptoms to expect. Upon admission to a treatment center, patients undergo both alcohol and opiate detox. The detox helps cleanse the body and remove all toxins and addictive substances. It also helps ease withdrawal symptoms; however, patients will generally still experience some symptoms. The intensities of these symptoms will be reduced significantly.
Being prepared for the withdrawals can make the entire recovery process feel a lot smoother. Some common withdrawal symptoms to expect include:
- Anxiety, irritability and intense mood swings
- Flu-like symptoms, like runny nose and watery eyes
- Hot and cold flushes throughout the day
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
- Muscle and joint pain and aches
- Muscle spasms and tremors, like shaky hands
- Severe restlessness leading to difficulties sleeping
- Uncontrollable and frequent yawning
- Uncontrollable kicking movements
As patients go through the withdrawal process, these symptoms will slowly begin to subside. After some time, the physical symptoms will disappear completely. It’s the psychological symptoms, like depression and the cravings, that patients need to worry about. These symptoms can linger around for months and even years. If these symptoms are not treated, they can cause mental health issues to arise.
Don’t Mix Substances and Get Help as Soon as You Can
Many Americans are under the misconception that mixing the two can’t be that dangerous since oxycodone is a prescription and alcohol is legal. However, that’s far from the truth. Oxycodone and alcohol is a deadly combo. The effects of oxycodone will only magnify the effects of alcohol. Both substances are addictive. When combined, they become even more addictive. They encourage an even more intense cycle of abuse that will require intensive and specialized addiction treatment.
If you are struggling with both alcohol and oxycodone abuse, contact us to learn more about the treatment options available. Amethyst Recovery is one of the leading treatment centers in Florida. Not only is our staff well-versed on how various addictions work, but our treatment facility is state-of-the-art. Take a tour of our facilities to get a better idea of what we have to offer.