Percocet and Alcohol: Why Does This Combination Have So Much Potential To Be Deadly? 

Percocet, a classified narcotic, is typically prescribed temporarily for severe pain. Percocet is made up of a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid that comes from the opium poppy. It attaches to and stimulates specific opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain. Oxycodone often leads to a pleasurable feeling in the body, such as euphoria and pain relief.  Due to these pleasurable effects, Percocet, like any other narcotic, is highly addictive and abuse can result in overdose, injury, and death.

Percocet is particularly known for pain relief but it also makes some people feel relaxed and even sleepy. The pain-relieving effects of Percocet can typically be felt about 20 to 30 minutes after taking it. Other common consequences of Percocet can include blurred vision, confusion, constipation, dizziness, and fatigue. 

Percocet (Oxycodone + Acetaminophen) & Alcohol Addiction

Addiction is a chronic condition characterized by compulsive substance abuse despite the negative consequences that substance abuse has on one’s life. Some characteristics of addiction that a doctor might use to diagnose you (no matter the type of drug) are: 

  • If you have spent a lot of time using or being sick from using.
  • If you have tried to cut down or stop using, but couldn’t.
  • If you have experienced problems in your relationships because of use.
  • If you have had times where you used more than you intended to. 
  • If your behaviors are unusual or you are participating in risky behavior. 

Signs & Symptoms: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Slowed and shallow breathing; respiratory depression
  • Sweating
  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Unhealthy fluctuations in blood pressure

A Potentially Fatal Combination of Drugs (Oxycodone + Acetaminophen + Alcohol)

Combining any two drugs is known as polydrug use, this can involve legal substances such as a prescription opioid painkiller, as well as illicit drugs. Combining any two intoxicating substances is never advised because it can have very dangerous consequences. However, combining an alcoholic beverage with Percocet presents a unique set of issues because they both act as central nervous system depressants.  Another reason that this combination is exclusively dangerous when combined with alcohol is that Percocet is made up of prescription medication (Oxycodone) and over-the-counter medication (Tylenol). Percocet is usually prescribed as a short-term treatment option after an injury or surgery, it is not intended to be used to treat chronic pain.  Anytime that Percocet is prescribed, it will have a warning on the label not to mix with alcohol. 

Anytime you drink alcohol while taking opioids, you risk overdosing. In addition, taking acetaminophen with alcohol increases the risk of liver damage as well as damage to other organ systems. This combination can also lead to decreased coordination, slowed breathing, poor judgment, and severe respiratory depression that can lead to permanent injury and/or death. 

Acetaminophen-induced liver damage is responsible for more than 30,000 hospitalizations per year.

Effects of Alcohol & Opioid Overdose

People who abuse their prescription painkillers or have an alcohol addiction may be at greater risk of overdosing if they use them excessively. As mentioned, taking more than the recommended amount of acetaminophen per dose (one of the active ingredients in Percocet) can result in overdosing and even death. Large amounts of Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can lead to severe liver damage. It’s the most common cause of acute liver failure in adults and accounts for up to 20 percent of all hepatic transplantations in the United States. A study found that a significant portion of people who take too much acetaminophen are doing so unintentionally and when they’re taking a combination of alcohol and painkillers.

When opioids like Percocet are taken at larger-than-recommended doses or when they’re used in combination with any other substance, the consequences can be deadly. Symptoms of opioid overdose can include: extreme fatigue narrowed pupils, decreased breathing rate, weak muscles, muscle spasms, clammy skin, loss of coordination, and loss of consciousness. 

Naloxone also known by its brand name Narcan, is a drug used by emergency responders to reverse overdoses caused by opioids like hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), and morphine. Naloxone works by binding to the same receptors in your brain as opioids do and temporarily reverses the opioid. Naloxone is metabolized faster than opioids, so if someone has overdosed on opioids, they shouldn’t assume that one dose of this will be enough to stop the overdose. Instead, it will halt the effect for long enough to get them to a hospital.

Naloxone is effective at stopping an opioid overdose, but it doesn’t help people who’ve been poisoned by alcohol. Although there are no antidotes to alcohol poisoning, it is still important for the individual to seek immediate medical attention. Other methods used by medical professionals to treat this condition include using activated charcoal, pumping the patient’s stomach, or providing supportive care. Combining an alcohol use disorder and an opioid, like codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone puts people at a very high risk of overdosing, which increases their chances of dying.

It is crucial for patients who have a history of alcoholism, addiction, or abuse to discuss these risks with their doctors before taking opioids. It is also important that doctors inform their patients about the risks of concurrent alcohol and opioid use because even a social drink can put the patient at risk of serious side effects while taking their prescription as directed.

What You Need To Know About Withdrawal

Percocet can stay in your system for up to 24 hours in your blood, up to two days in your saliva, up to four days in your urine, and even up to 90 days in your hair. But regardless of how long it stays in your system, when the side effects of Percocet withdrawal occur will depend on how long you have been using and how much you use. Withdrawal from both of these substances can be fatal. This is because of how both chemicals interact with your brain and the central nervous system. Withdrawal from any addictive substance can cause similar symptoms, including intense drug cravings, extreme anxiety and depression, severe dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and delirium tremens (DTs). Withdrawal should not be attempted without medical supervision.

Did You Know?…

  • An opioid pain reliever is similar in properties and function to heroin.
  • Alcohol and painkillers amplify one another’s effects.
  • Both Percocet and alcohol are dangerous for the liver.
  • Nearly half of acetaminophen use results in accidental overdose in Americans (U.S. Food And Drug Administration, 2013).
  • Roughly 400 deaths a year are related to acetaminophen overdoses (U.S. Food And Drug Administration, 2013).
  • About 10% of twelfth graders abuse painkillers.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse finds that alcohol has the highest rate of dependence and abuse among all substances in (NIDA, 2015).
  • The CDC states that people aged 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcoholic beverages consumed in the U.S.
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 88,000 deaths a year are attributed to alcohol. 

Treatments: Reverse Your Addiction to Pain Medication

There are a lot of medical treatment options out there to treat opioid dependency. But Accelerated Neuro-Regulation is the only one that has been developed to help you and your loved ones get back to living the life that you love without a long “road to recovery”. On average, a patient undergoing ANR treatment only requires a 36-hour stay in the hospital. Your addiction does not define you, it is not a chronic disease. With ANR treatment it is a treatable condition.  

Contact us here at the ANR Clinic and speak with someone to answer any questions about Accelerated Neuro-Regulation and determine if it is right for you. 

Schedule a FREE consultation with one of our physicians today

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