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Vicodin and Alcohol: Dangers, Interactions, and Side Effects

vicodin and alcohol

It is not uncommon for people to mix mind-altering substances together. In fact, it happens all the time in nightclubs, bars, parties, etc. But, just because it happens all the time does not mean that it is safe. Combining Vicodin and alcohol, for instance, can be extremely dangerous both short-term and long-term and possibly even deadly.

Vicodin, which is the brand name for hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is a popular prescription opioid that is often prescribed to people after a surgical procedure or for those who are experiencing severe physical pain. It is highly addictive and even taking it as prescribed can lead to dependence. Like other opioids (including heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl), abusing Vicodin in any manner can cost a person their life. When it is being combined with alcohol, these risks increase exponentially.

Vicodin and Alcohol Interactions

Vicodin and alcohol are two depressant substances. This means that when either is consumed, they slow down the body and its functions, specifically the respiratory system. Make no mistake about it – Vicodin or alcohol use can lead to respiratory distress or failure when used independent of each other. But, when combined, the probability of these effects intensify, which is why it is not recommended to do mix the two. Several interactions can develop.


Acetaminophen, which is the generic name for Tylenol, is an over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer. When taken as directed, it produces several benefits, but consuming too much of it can cause liver problems. Alcohol is similar in the sense that it effects the liver in a negative way, especially when too much alcohol is being consumed. Taking Vicodin (which contains acetaminophen) and drinking alcohol give the liver the one-two punch in terms of harm. Someone who abused both substances a few times is unlikely to develop serious liver-related problems, but for those who view this combination as their go-to, the risk of liver problems is severe and can include:

  • Acute liver failure
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Liver death


Anytime a depressant substance is being abused, it can compromise the wellbeing of the entire pulmonary system and its overall function. Like previously mentioned, the combination of hydrocodone and alcohol slows a person’s respiratory rate. As a result, someone who is using the two can develop shallow breathing and even asphyxiate. Many of those who suffer an overdose from the overuse of depressants like these two pass out and never wake up because their lungs gave out in their sleep. This is one of the top causes of accidental overdose.

Vicodin and Alcohol Side Effects

When someone is engaging in polysubstance abuse that includes Vicodin and alcohol, the side effects can be endless, especially if that use is regular. Some of the side effects that a person can experience when mixing Vicodin and alcohol together can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Dependence – Dependence occurs when the body becomes entirely reliant on one or more substances. Without the substances present, the body goes into withdrawal, which produces many symptoms that can range in severity from minimally noticeable to entirely crippling. Breaking a dependence to substances like alcohol and Vicodin can take weeks and the impacts of that dependence can last a lifetime.
  • Legal problems – Both drinking alcohol or abusing Vicodin can produce a number of legal problems for a person. But when both are being abused at once, the legal problems one faces can begin to mount and include DUI, public intoxication, and illegal possession of narcotics, as well as repercussions for fighting in public, causing a vehicle accident, or harming someone else (intentionally or unintentionally) while under the influence.
  • Financial downfall – Alcohol is readily available throughout the entire country, making it easy to access and spend money on. The more that a person abuses alcohol, the more of it they need, causing them to require more money to fund their drinking behaviors. On top of that, paying for prescription Vicodin can quickly become a hefty cost, as these pills are not inexpensive. Even buying the on the black market can run up a person’s bill. As a result, it can become difficult (if not impossible) for a person abusing these substances to have problems paying rent, paying bills, affording food and other basic human needs, and supporting their family. The more intense the alcohol and Vicodin abuse becomes, the more money goes in to supporting the habit rather than supporting a healthy lifestyle.

Additionally, abusing both Vicodin and alcohol together can increase a person’s likelihood of developing a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, both of which can be extremely painful to cope with.

Addiction Treatment in Texas

If you are abusing one or more mind-altering substances, do not wait to reach out for the help you need. We understand the struggles you face as a result of your substance abuse and we can help.

So, do not let another day go by. Contact us right now to learn more about our programming options.

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