Roxicodone is a brand name for oxycodone, a common opioid pain reliever. It’s prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe pain symptoms after surgeries and injuries. It may also be used to manage pain caused by diseases like cancer. It’s often used in hospital settings to relieve pain immediately, but it’s also prescribed for pain management at home. Oxycodone has been the subject of controversy for its abuse and addiction potential, specifically the marketing of the brand OxyContin. However, oxycodone can cause dependence and substance use problems when it’s misused, no matter the brand.
The use and misuse of opioids have led to an increase in addiction and overdose in the past several years. In 2017, opioid prescriptions were involved in 17,029 overdose deaths in the United States. In 2019, the number was still high at 14,139 deaths. However, opioids continue to be a problem in the United States. In 2020, there were record overdose numbers with more than 100,000 deaths. Close to 70,000 of those deaths involved opioids.
In many cases, opioid overdoses involve more than one drug at a time. Alcohol is commonly mixed with other drugs intentionally or by accident. However, mixing alcohol with other substances can be extremely dangerous, especially with opioids like Roxicodone are involved. But is there a safe way to mix Roxicodone, and what happens when you mix these substances?
What Happens When You Mix Roxicodone with Alcohol?
Alcohol is among the most frequently used recreational substances in the world. In the United States, about 85.6% of people have tried alcohol at some point during their lifetime. Around 25% of adults reported binge drinking within the past month of the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Alcohol is such a normal part of life for many people that they may continue to drink after being treated with a medication like Roxicodone.
As an opioid, Roxicodone works in the brain by mimicking naturally occurring endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that manage your pain response. They bind with opioid receptors and activate them to block pain signals from being sent and received. Opioids like Roxicodone bind to these receptors and block pain more effectively than your natural endorphins, which is why they are effective in dealing with severe pain symptoms. Opioids also slow activity in your nervous system, which can help you rest and relax.
Alcohol is actually a chemical called ethanol, and it’s in a broader category of drugs called central nervous system depressants. Though they work differently in the brain and body, depressants also slow down activity in the nervous system. They work with a chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is your primary rest and relaxation neurotransmitter. GABA binds to its receptors to open a channel to negative charge that lowers activity in the nervous system. Alcohol binds to GABA receptors and increases GABA’s effectiveness by keeping the channel open longer. That’s why you can feel sleepy after drinking alcohol.
Alcohol can slow down your nervous system to relax you and delay your thinking and reaction times. But it can also slow down unconscious functions of your nervous system, including your blood pressure and heart rate. Opioids can also slow down some of these unconscious functions. When the two are mixed together, they can intensify each other. Potentiation is when two or more drugs interact to increase their overall effects on your body.
When users mix alcohol and opioids, they can increase their overall effects on their bodies. Mixing these substances can increase your risk of a dangerous overdose, even with relatively moderate doses of each individual substance.
What Are the Effects of Mixing Roxicodone and Alcohol?
Alcohol and Roxicodone share some unique and similar effects. They can both make you feel relaxed. But when they’re mixed, you may feel drowsy, lightheaded, dizzy, and fatigued. You may also lose consciousness or slip in and out of consciousness. Some of the most dangerous effects of mixing these drugs involve some of the unconscious functions of your nervous system.
During an overdose, your heart rate may slow down, and your blood pressure will drop. One of the most dangerous effects is respiratory depression. This happens when your breathing slows down or stops. As your breathing and heart rate slow down, less oxygen will make it to your brain and throughout the body. Oxygen deprivation can lead to brain damage, coma, or death. Many opioid overdose deaths involve slowed breathing and oxygen deprivation. If your breathing slows for long enough, even if you survive the overdose, you may suffer permanent brain damage.
Mixing opioids and Roxicodone chronically can also cause some long-term health risks, including memory impairment, heart disease, and kidney disease. It also increases your risk for certain types of cancer.
What Are the Signs of an Alcohol and Roxicodone Overdose?
Mixing alcohol and Roxicodone in high enough doses can lead to an overdose. There are ways to treat alcohol and opioid overdose, but you will need medical attention as soon as possible. Knowing the signs of an overdose may save your life or the life of someone around you. If you notice the signs of an overdose, it’s important to call for emergency services as soon as possible. Signs and symptoms can include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty maintaining consciousness
- Cold and clammy skin
- Slowed breathing
- Slowed heart rate
- Poor motor coordination
- Bluish lips or fingertips
If someone is experiencing an overdose that involves opioids, a drug called naloxone can reverse the effects of the overdose. Emergency responders carry naloxone, and it can be purchased at a pharmacy in some states. However, naloxone only works if it’s administered in time. Even if you get naloxone during an overdose, you should still seek medical attention. The overdose may continue when the naloxone wears off.
Why Would People Mix Roxicodone with Alcohol?
A person may mix alcohol with prescription drugs like Roxicodone for two reasons. One reason is a simple accident. Someone who drinks regularly may drink as a part of their daily routine. When they are prescribed an opioid, they may continue to drink as they normally would, not knowing it will interact with the drug. In other cases, recreational opioid use and alcohol use may happen in the same settings, so someone may take both at the same time, not thinking about how they might mix.
Roxicodone may also be mixed with alcohol to increase its potential euphoric effects. Mixing the drugs can cause a relaxing euphoric effect. Alcohol may also increase certain pleasurable effects like inhibition and anxiety release. However, euphoric effects can quickly give way to drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and potentially dangerous symptoms.
Some may drink and use Roxicodone at the same time through a form of self-medication. Self-medication is the use of a drug or substance to mask mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Self-medication can often lead to substance use disorders and other serious consequences.
How Are Roxicodone and Alcohol Use Treated?
If you’ve developed a substance use disorder while mixing alcohol and opioids, you may need to seek addiction treatment. Opioid dependence can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop using. But alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. If you experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you miss a dose or a drink, speak to your doctor before quitting cold turkey.
You may need to go through a detox program to get through the withdrawal phase of detox without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Detox involves 24-hour medically managed treatment. After detox, you may continue in inpatient/residential care or move onto an outpatient program. Through each level of care, you’ll work through a personalized treatment plan, and you may go through various therapy options according to your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mixing Drugs
Why is it dangerous to drink alcohol if you’re on Roxicodone?
Alcohol and opioids like Roxicodone both affect your nervous system in similar ways. When you mix them together, it’s similar to taking a very high dose of a drug that causes an overdose. It slows down your nervous system to the point of impairing important functions, such as your breathing or heart rate.
If I’m on pain meds, can I drink?
Whenever you’re taking a new medication, it’s important to ask your doctor about potentially dangerous drug interactions. Pain medications in the opioid class should not be mixed with alcohol. Other types of pain medications can also be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. In some cases, mixing drugs can be hard on your liver.
Can Roxicodone help with alcohol withdrawal?
Roxicodone is effective in treating moderate-to-severe pain, including pain from hangover symptoms like headaches. However, prescription opioid use is usually not appropriate when dealing with mild pain and common issues like hangovers. Plus, other over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen are usually effective in treating mild pain symptoms.