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Updated on September 13, 2023
7 min read

Is It Safe to Mix Hydrocodone and Alcohol?

What is Hydrocodone?

Categorized as an opioid analgesic, Hydrocodone is a potent prescription pain medication prescribed to manage severe pain. It helps people who require continuous, long-term pain relief and don’t have permanent solutions for their medical illnesses.

Hydrocodone is available under various brand names:

  • Vicodin
  • Lorcet
  • Norco
  • Dicodid

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How Does Hydrocodone Work?

Opioid painkillers like hydrocodone work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and Central Nervous System (CNS), altering the perception of pain. It primarily activates the mu-opioid receptors, providing analgesic and antitussive effects while also causing euphoria.

Hydrocodone can cause respiratory depression, especially at higher doses or when combined with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or sedatives. This is why hydrocodone must be prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Is Hydrocodone Safe to Use?

Hydrocodone is safe and effective when used as directed by medical professionals. However, misusing it can lead to serious consequences and even fatal overdose. The likelihood of these side effects increases when you use hydrocodone with other drugs and alcohol.

How Addictive is Hydrocodone?

It’s a powerful semi-synthetic opioid and can lead to dependency in as little as a week. Development of opioid dependency is influenced by, but not limited to: 

  • Dosage
  • Duration of use
  • Individual susceptibility

Hydrocodone addiction usually starts by misusing a prescription. Due to increased drug tolerance in the body, people must take more than their required dosage to achieve its numbing effects. 


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Side Effects of Mixing Hydrocodone and Alcohol

Besides taking it orally, some people crush or snort hydrocodone pills to experience amplified effects. This can be especially dangerous when taken with other substances.

Misuse of hydrocodone and alcohol can lead to various psychiatric issues. These include:

  • Panic
  • Depression
  • Social phobia
  • Anxiety

These effects can also be signs of a developing Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Aside from the psychological side effects, misusing hydrocodone and alcohol can lead to various physical side effects.

Physical Effects of Alcohol and Hydrocodone

Both alcohol and hydrocodone are CNS depressants. Because of this, they can increase the potency of each other’s numbing effects, such as extreme drowsiness and anxiety. 

Several other side effects include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle tightening
  • Difficult, frequent, or painful urination
  • Peripheral edema (Foot, leg, or ankle swelling)
  • Memory loss
  • Balance issues or impaired coordination
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Respiratory depression and shallow breathing
  • Slowed reaction times
  • lowered inhibitions
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Uncontrollable shaking of parts of the body
  • Restlessness
  • Lowered inhibitions

If these side effects continue or worsen, speak to your doctor.

Severe Side Effects of Hydrocodone

Some side effects of hydrocodone can be severe and demand immediate medical attention. These include:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • Severe muscle stiffness or twitching
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Decreased libido or sexual desire
  • Facial edema or swelling
  • Hoarseness
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Erectile dysfunction

If you experience severe side effects, contact your doctor or seek emergency medical treatment.


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Risks of Mixing Hydrocodone and Alcohol

Alcohol and hydrocodone have similar effects on the brain, and mixing them can compound each other’s intoxication effect. Although it leads to more potent numbing effects, it can also increase the risk of long-term health problems. These include:

  • CNS depression or impaired neurological functions
  • Slower heart rate leading to heart failure
  • Slowed or depressed breathing
  • Hepatoxicity 
  • Regular gastrointestinal disturbances (nausea, vomiting, liver damage)
  • Thinking and memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Blacking out or passing out
  • Unresponsiveness or inability to wake up
  • Intense withdrawal symptoms
  • Increased risk of an overdose

How Long Should You Wait Before Drinking Alcohol Again?

You should wait at least 24 hours after your last dose of hydrocodone before drinking alcohol. This gives your body sufficient time to remove the drug from your system and reduce the risk of adverse interactions.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider or pharmacist regarding your painkiller medication. Some brands of painkillers may have different recommendations regarding alcohol consumption.

What Other Substances Can Interact with Alcohol?

Besides hydrocodone, alcohol can negatively interact with various substances once ingested. These include over-the-counter or prescription medications like:

  • Anti-hypertensive medications
  • Sedatives
  • Anti-anxiety Medications
  • Pain medicine
  • Skeletal muscle relaxants
  • Anti-diabetic medications
  • Anti-hyperlipidemia medications
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-psychotics

Mixing alcohol with these medications can lead to the following:

  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart problems
  • Fainting
  • Bleeding, especially gastric bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Falls or injuries due to accidents
  • Seizures
  • Liver or heart injury
  • Slowed breathing or respiratory depression
  • Drug overdose
  • Death

Signs of Hydrocodone and Alcohol Abuse

The intensity of a person’s SUD will range from mild to severe, depending on the number of symptoms present. If a person exhibits at least two of the criteria below within the same one-year timespan, they may be addicted to hydrocodone and alcohol:

  • Hydrocodone and alcohol are consumed in larger quantities or over a significant period
  • Showing a continuous desire to stop using hydrocodone and alcohol but has been unable to cut down
  • Expressing strong urges or cravings to consume hydrocodone and alcohol
  • Inability to fulfill responsibilities due to the effects of hydrocodone and alcohol use
  • Recurring hydrocodone and alcohol use which leads to social or relationship problems
  • Avoiding essential areas of life, including work, family, school, and social activities, due to alcohol and hydrocodone use
  • Exhibiting risky behavior, such as driving while intoxicated or having unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol or hydrocodone
  • Continuing use of opioids and alcohol, regardless of causing or worsening a physical or psychological issue
  • Exhibiting a high tolerance to hydrocodone and alcohol
  • Showing signs of withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone and alcohol use

Can You Overdose When Mixing Hydrocodone And Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol while taking hydrocodone can increase the risk of a fatal opioid overdose. There is no specific limit to how much hydrocodone and alcohol would cause an opioid overdose. It will depend on how large the dose is or how the substances are consumed.

Signs of an opioid overdose on hydrocodone and alcohol include:

  • Pale, cold, or clammy skin
  • Significant confusion or memory trouble
  • Stumbling
  • Drowsiness and sleepiness
  • Blue fingernails or lips
  • Vomiting or gurgling noises in the throat
  • Low or stopped heartbeat
  • Breathing problems

If a person overdoses on alcohol and hydrocodone, it’s essential to call 911 immediately. The person requires emergency medical attention to survive and mitigate long-term damage.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

People who have been dependent on drugs and alcohol must require assistance to go sober safely. This is because both substances put the body at risk of painful withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:

  • Shivering and profuse sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Insomnia and night sweats
  • Chills, fever, goosebumps
  • Excessive yawning
  • Vomiting and severe stomach cramps
  • Body aches
  • Severe anxiety and depression
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Drug cravings
  • Runny nose

Experiencing these withdrawal symptoms can cause people to relapse. If you want to detox from hydrocodone successfully, seek professional medical attention.

Treatment for Hydrocodone and Alcohol Abuse

People who suffer from chronic pain may find it challenging to balance the need for pain medication and the risk of addiction. If you mix alcohol and hydrocodone for their numbing effects, it’s important to seek professional help to overcome your drug dependence.

Fortunately, various treatment options are available for you or your loved one. Talk to your healthcare provider to find the right treatment plan for you.

Available treatment options for alcohol and hydrocodone abuse include:


Hydrocodone is a potent opioid painkiller used to manage severe pain. It binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, altering your perception of pain. 

Mixing hydrocodone with alcohol can be dangerous as both substances act as CNS depressants. This can result in extreme drowsiness, impaired coordination, respiratory depression, and other detrimental effects on the body.

Mixing these substances can also lead to a potentially fatal overdose. Consider seeking treatment if you’re struggling with hydrocodone and alcohol abuse.

Updated on September 13, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on September 13, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Hydrocodone” MedlinePlus, 2020.

  2. Hydrocodone” Drug Enforcement Administration, 2019.

  3. Hydrocodone Combination Products” Combination Products, MedlinePlus, 2020.

  4. Harmful Interactions” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 2014.

  5. Alcohol Use and Your Health” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2020.

  6. Shah, M. & Martin Huecker. “Opioid Withdrawal.” Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2023.

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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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