safety medical

Oxycodone (OxyContin) and Alcohol

Oxycodone is a powerful narcotic pain killer used to treat conditions that do not respond to regular treatment. However, there is always a risk of abuse with oxycodone, and it is not uncommon for individuals to also consume alcohol when taking oxycodone.

There is a major concern of combining these two, and here we shall take a look at this interaction in a bit more detail.

The problem

Oxycodone has a number of side effects with its use, and this can include drowsiness, becoming less responsive, dizziness, light headedness and cognitive impairment. Unfortunately, alcohol also has the same effects, so combining the two can only make these symptoms worse. In fact, in more advanced cases, patients may go into circulatory shock, developing low blood pressure and slowing of their breathing. Over a short period of time, this can progress to a drop in the level of consciousness, coma and even death.

The problem however is not just the combination of the effects. Alcohol can alter the way the body handles oxycodone, and instead of a steady release of the drug into the blood stream over a few hours, it can cause an acute and rapid rise in the levels of oxycodone. This rise can reach potentially toxic levels, placing the patient at risk of serious side effects as previously described.

The reverse is also true. Oxycodone can potentiate the actions of alcohol and can make it a powerful sedative. Patients tend to feel drowsy and can have trouble concentrating when performing any activity. Some cases of serious work related accidents have been reported due to this combination. Elderly patients are at risk of suffering from imbalance and falls, and this can lead to a serious head injury that requires hospitalization and treatment straight away.


Many a time, individuals who overdose on oxycodone do so by taking the tablets with alcohol instead of water. Given the metabolic interactions between the two drugs, the levels of oxycodone will be higher in the blood that would be seen if the patient had consumed them with water. This is no doubt a serious risk and can cause a great deal of problems to be patient.

Safety issues

There is no doubt that the interaction between alcohol and oxycodone is a dangerous one. It is strongly recommended that patients who take oxycodone regularly for pain relief or for any other reason completely abstain from alcohol and literally not have any alcohol at all. These warnings have been issued by the US FDA, so are evidence based and must be strongly regarded. Death can occur and patients must be aware of this. We strongly recommend that patients who take oxycodone do so on doctor’s orders only and follow the advice given to them strictly.

Alcohol and oxycodone is a potentially lethal combination. Each of them can impact the metabolism of the other, and must never be combined.

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