If you are suffering from an alcohol use disorder, the risk of abusing other substances is often high. Most people who binge drink also abuse prescription painkillers, such as opioids. Individuals often engage in polysubstance abuse to enhance the euphoric or sedating effects of other drugs. At Northern Illinois Recovery, we can help you overcome the dangers of substance abuse and mixing different drugs.
Respiratory Depression and Brain Damage
A painkiller can be lethal when abused. Combining an opioid with other drugs is extremely dangerous. Both substances are depressants that work by slowing the user’s breathing rate.
Therefore, taking alcohol and painkillers can lead to respiratory depression. You begin to struggle to breathe, and finally, you stop respiring. If the suffocation is left untreated, it can lead to severe consequences. With insufficient oxygen quantities getting to your brain, the cells start to die rapidly, leading to brain damage, coma, and death.
You can be at risk of an opioid overdose even if you are not battling drug or alcohol abuse. For example, it may only take a glass of wine and an oxycodone prescription to risk respiratory depression unsuspectingly.
Unless you seek immediate medical intervention, an overdose of this combination can be life-threatening. Symptoms of dangerous respiratory depression include:
- Vision impairment
- Bluish fingernails and lips
- Difficulty staying awake and loss of consciousness
- Clammy, cold skin
- Nausea and vomiting
Loss of Memory
Opioid painkillers and alcohol—particularly when abused or overdosed—can hamper your brain’s ability to form new memories. When you take an opioid, it blocks pain by binding to your brain receptor cells. It also leads to blockage to your emotional reaction to pain and suffering. Such blockage can increase your risk of memory loss.
Binging can also lead to blackouts and memory loss. When your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is high, it hampers your brain from converting your short-term memories to long-term memories.
When used together for an extended period, the combination can damage your motor function, destroy your ability to remember things, and mimic dementia.
Excessive drinking can have devastating impacts on your heart. Drinking and using opioids can heighten the risk of heart failure.
When you are sober and begin to feel chest pains, you become aware of and address the problem. However, when you are drunk and use painkillers simultaneously, it can suppress the pain, and you fail to recognize what is happening in your heart.
Failure to identify the symptoms often leads to life-threatening consequences.
The more amount you drink, the more quantity of the substance enters your body. However, opioid painkillers also increase the effects of intoxication in your body. Liver damage rarely emanates from using painkillers. However, mixing prescription opioids with other substances can heighten the damage to your liver.
The chemical known as acetaminophen is present in painkillers such as Percocet and Vicodin. The chemical helps the effects of other drugs to last longer. However, acetaminophen is addictive and can damage the liver as well. Since both substances damage the liver, using them simultaneously doubles the problem.
Combining prescription and recreational drugs is risky. Luckily, most rehab programs can help you overcome substance use disorders. Rehab therapies that can treat such conditions include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Recovery coaching program
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Holistic treatment approach
- 12 step program
Contact Northern Illinois Recovery for Alcohol and Opioid Abuse Treatment
If you or your family member is grappling with a dependency on alcohol and painkillers, talk to a therapist for professional help. When left untreated, alcohol use disorders can deteriorate into fatal consequences. Contact Northern Illinois Recovery at 855.786.1978 for professional treatment for your condition.