Tag Archives: polysubstance abuse

Dangers of Mixing Valium and Alcohol

Valium can be an invaluable aid for individuals suffering from anxiety attacks or panic disorders.

Alcohol is one of the most easily available and regularly consumed substances in the world. Unfortunately, people commonly mix alcohol and Valium on accident–or even on purpose.

Understanding potential interactions between the two may help avoid intentional or accidental mixing. By discussing the physical effects of each substance, we can better understand why Valium and alcohol do not mix well.

Valium for Pain: How Does Valium Work?

Valium is the brand name for the drug diazepam, which scientists have classified as a benzodiazepine. This category of drugs is sometimes referred to as “benzos.”

Diazepam diminishes the reactiveness of neurons by essentially making communication between them more difficult. Not all benzos function in this exact method, but the neurons affected by benzos are usually the same.

For individuals suffering from anxiety, this effect can produce a calming sensation, and typically eliminates symptoms of anxiety.

Though its relaxing effects would appear to make it a good painkiller, taking Valium for pain is likely ineffective. It does not affect the neurons in the brain responsible for pain reception, and the risk of dependence makes it a poor option for pain treatment.

For individuals suffering from anxiety, this effect can produce a calming sensation, and typically eliminates symptoms of anxiety.

What Are Valium’s Medical Applications?

Valium is prescribed to help relieve symptoms of anxiety, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal, diazepam can also help relax muscles. Additionally, Valium has been found to have some off-label use as a sleep aid, and sedation for patients receiving intensive care.

Medical professionals strongly recommended against taking Valium for sleep at home, as it is all too easy for someone to develop a dependence on the drug. Under proper medical supervision for patient sedation in the ICU is unlikely to be risky, however, since doses are limited in quantity and repetition.

Does Valium Have Side Effects?

Like many prescription medications, Valium may have a number of side effects when taken.

While Valium side effects are typically described as simply ‘uncomfortable’, there are a few rare adverse effects that might arise. The following are some of the common side effects of diazepam use:

  • Sedation
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Tremor
  • Nausea

Valium has also been known to be a leading cause of seizures, trouble breathing, or suicidal ideation, but these cases are rare.

Additionally, the formation of a substance use disorder (SUD) in relation to Valium is a possibility. As a result, doctors will need to carefully monitor and pace Valium use, to minimize risk of abuse.

Does Valium Have Risk for Abuse?

Valium is manufactured as oral tablets in dose sizes of two, five, and ten milligrams. The generic chemical name, diazepam, is also manufactured as a liquid to be taken intravenously. Valium carries the potential for abuse in any and all of these forms.

Individuals who use benzos without a prescription or who take more than the prescribed dose increase their risk for developing a dependence upon them. People who self-diagnose or simply want something to help them “feel good” may seek illicit forms of Valium for its calming effects.

No matter the initial reason, abuse of Valium can cause an addiction to form. When an individual suffers from an addiction to diazepam, they are also likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop suddenly.

Individuals who use benzos without a prescription or who take more than the prescribed dose increase their risk for developing a dependence upon them.

How Long Does Valium Last?

Valium stays in the body for a significant amount of time, especially when compared to similar substances. Valium’s half life of 46 hours makes it an exceptionally long-remaining drug.

This means it takes the average human body nearly two full days to get rid of half of the diazepam they ingest. In two day more, another half would be eliminated.

After enough time, all of the substance will be entirely eliminated. Since the half-life of Valium is so long, it can take as many as 12 days for it to completely exit the body, depending on the dose size.

Though the substance remains in the body for a long time, Valium’s intended effects last only about 12 hours.

Valium And Alcohol Interaction

Alcohol is a substance known as a “depressant” that can result in a plethora of side effects as well as health complications with long-term use.

The most notable side-effects of alcohol consumption include drowsiness, headaches, and breathing difficulty.

Side Effects of Mixing Valium and Alcohol

Since both Valium and alcohol can both cause individuals to feel drowsy, experience headaches, or have trouble breathing, combining the two can be risky.

Since Valium remains in the system for such a long period of time, there is a higher chance of accidentally having Valium and alcohol in your system at the same time.

For example, someone may take their dose of Valium in the morning, then later in the evening go out for drinks. If they have forgotten about the dose, or are unaware of the dangers of mixing Valium and alcohol, they risk experiencing life-threatening side effects.

The compound effect of both alcohol and benzos depressing the central nervous system (CNS) can cause dangerously slowed breathing. A person who has mixed them often appears to be asleep. Whether accidental or not, frequently mixing Valium and alcohol can result in overdose and even death.

The most notable side-effects of alcohol consumption include drowsiness, headaches, and breathing difficulty.

Treatment for Valium and Alcohol Addiction

A SUD is a life-threatening problem. Even if Valium’s effects may seem relatively harmless, a dependence on the drug can worsen over time, developing into addiction or even lead to death. This is why it is important to seek help if you think a loved one suffers from a SUD. If you suspect that a loved one is addicted to Valium–or any other substance–contact us today.

Phentermine And Alcohol

Prescription medications are some of the most abused substances. This is largely due to the fact that they are easy to access and can carry “desirable” effects.

Prescription drugs are sometimes abused with alcohol to emphasize or increase the effect of the substance.

However, mixing prescriptions with alcohol is never a wise idea. Many substances, like phentermine, are known to have unpleasant or even dangerous effects when mixed with alcohol.

Breakdown of Phentermine

Phentermine–also known by its brand names as Adipex P or Lomaira–belongs to a unique stimulant subclass of drugs known as anorectics.

Doctors prescribe anorectics to help patients overcome obesity. Due to its unique effect of hunger suppression with few-to-no side effects, it is a valuable medication for individuals who are experiencing health complications due to weight.

The side effects of phentermine are relatively mild compared to some other prescription drugs. While there are some rare side effects that can be dangerous, the most common reported symptoms are usually just ‘unpleasant.’

Common side effects of phentermine include: Faster Heart Rate Pins and Needles Dry Mouth Trouble Sleeping Constipation Nervousness

In the brain, phentermine causes the release of norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is responsible for the brain’s reaction to stress responses and emergency situations.

The medication suppresses the hunger sensation in the brain and also acts upon the rest of the body by releasing adrenaline and epinephrine. Together, these two chemicals communicate to the body to break down fat, further helping the treatment of obesity.

Phentermine diminishes in effectiveness over time, so prescriptions for it are usually short-term. Three months is around the maximum amount of time that a phentermine prescription lasts.

After as few as three weeks, the effectiveness of the substance weakens, and the treatment no longer benefits the patient. The eventual lack of effectiveness seems inevitable, but tolerance might not be to blame.

Though the substance might appear to be dangerous if taken for extended periods of time, there has been little demonstrated abuse potential for phentermine.

Phentermine Abuse Potential

Stimulants are notorious for having substances that have a high potential for abuse: methamphetamine and cocaine are two of the most recognizable illicit substances.

However, not all stimulants hold the potential for abuse. Despite multiple studies exploring the potential for abuse of phentermine, no recorded cases have emerged.

Phentermine also does not appear to affect withdrawal symptoms upon users. This likely has to do with the way that the substance interacts with the chemicals of the brain.

While a chemical dependence to phentermine is extremely unlikely to develop, psychological dependence might be another story.

Many addictive substances interact with either dopamine or serotonin. Since phentermine interacts only with norepinephrine, this might explain why patients who have taken it for long periods of time do not experience withdrawal symptoms.

While a chemical dependence to phentermine is extremely unlikely to develop, psychological dependence might be another story.

Psychological dependence has to do with an individual’s specific thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes towards a substance. Even if a substance is not chemically addictive, someone who takes it for an extended period of time might become so accustomed to the pattern, that it forms an attachment phenomenon mirroring addiction.

For phentermine, this might become a problem since it inhibits hunger. Extreme weight loss as a result of abusing phentermine could bring its own health complications.

Mixing Phentermine And Alcohol

When mixed, the side effects of either alcohol or phentermine may worsen to unpleasant levels. Sometimes “new” side effects may even develop as a direct result of the combination.

One of the major reasons to avoid the combination is due to the area that each of these substances affect.

Both phentermine and alcohol interact with the central nervous system. Together, they may trigger unexpected and unpleasant side effects such as dizziness, trouble concentrating, and mood swings.

Since both phentermine and alcohol can cause an increased heart rate, the combination can cause dangerously irregular cardiac function.

Additionally, alcohol can make losing weight more difficult. Even if no interaction occurs, drinking alcohol–especially in excess–blocks phentermine’s effectiveness by encouraging weight gain. The most serious interaction between the two, however, occurs in the heart.

Since both phentermine and alcohol can cause an increased heart rate, the combination can cause dangerously irregular cardiac function. Individuals dealing with obesity are already at greater risk for heart complications, so this can be especially risky.

It is better to err on the side of caution with phentermine and alcohol and avoid drinking while taking this prescription.

Help for Psychological Dependence and Polysubstance Abuse

Fortunately, phentermine shows very little risk of addiction, but this does not mean it is beyond the capacity for abuse. Psychological dependence can be just as debilitating as chemical dependence–and may even have longer-lasting effects.

If you suspect someone you love may be dependent upon any prescription medication or combining them regularly with alcohol, it’s important to seek professional advice. Reach out to us today to speak with one of our caring, professional staff about how to identify addictive behaviors and practical options.

Buspar and Alcohol: Facts and Side Effects

Buspar is a type of anti-anxiety medication. The manufacturer of the branded version of Buspar discontinued its production in 2010, but the generic version of the drug can still be prescribed. Though in short supply, doctors have found buspirone (Buspar’s generic name) to be an effective medication for the treatment of anxiety symptoms. Like the mixture of many substances, taking buspar and alcohol together can yield unpleasant and sometimes even harmful side effects.

Buspirone – Just An Anxiety Medication?

Though it is commonly compared to Xanax, buspirone does not trult belong in the same substance classification. Rather than qualifying as a benzodiazepine, buspirone belongs to the family of substances known as azapirones. This class of substances, like benzodiazepines, can treat the symptoms of anxiety. However, doctors often choose to prescribe buspirone over benzodiazepines (benzos) because it is less likely to be abused. While individuals may experience tolerance and eventual dependence to a benzodiazepine, buspirone has not been shown to be addictive.

While buspirone may be a solid alternative to some anti-anxiety medications, there are a few things that are unknown about the substance. Particularly, the method with which this drug takes effect is unclear. Researchers have speculated that the substance affects the part of the brain that is responsible for governing fear response, but clear evidence has not been observed yet. While the reason for the effect may be unknown, the side effects have been studied and are mostly well-understood.

While individuals may experience tolerance and eventual dependence to a benzodiazepine, buspirone has not been shown to be addictive.

Buspirone’s Side Effects

Buspirone’s most common side effect is dizziness. There are also several varied effects that patients may experience. Though it’s uncommon, anything from blurry vision to nausea can occur. The complete list of typical side effects includes:

  • Odd Dreams
  • Poor Coordination
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Excitability
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Tingling Skin
  • Blurred Vision
  • Ringing Ears
  • Chest pain
  • Congestion
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Tremors

Though the list of potential side effects is long, these effects are rare, and only manifest in a small number of patients. Additionally, side effects tend to subside as treatment progresses.

How Long Does Buspirone Stay in Your System?

Buspirone is eliminated quickly from the body; individuals who took one dose typically were free of the substance after 24 hours had passed. The half life of buspirone is similarly short: only around 2 to 3 hours. Effectively, this means that the body removes half of the current amount of the substance within 3 hours. If an individual were to take a dose of 30 mg, then in 3 hours, that individual would have only 15 mg of buspirone in their system. This process would keep repeating every 3 hours or so until the entirety of the drug is eliminated. Due to this short timespan of effect, individuals who have a prescription to buspirone may need to take a dose daily, or more often.

Since Buspirone can treat the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder with very little risk of dependence developing, researchers have investigated its effectiveness at treating withdrawal symptoms of other substances. Oftentimes anxiety and cravings appear in patients who are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. This means a substance that mitigates those symptoms and also has little risk of being abused itself may be the perfect substance to help recovering individuals. In a pair of studies, patients recovering from alcohol abuse and patients recovering from opioid abuse showed improvement while taking buspirone. While this kind of treatment has not been proven to be effective by the Federal Drug Administration, the results of these studies are promising, and may provide an additional help for patients suffering from or recovering from substance abuse.

Buspirone is eliminated quickly from the body; individuals who took one dose typically were free of the substance after 24 hours had passed.

Buspar Interactions With Alcohol

Fortunately, buspirone has a low chance of being abused. However, the side effects of the substance can worsen to dangerous levels if combined with other drugs. One of the most commonly abused drugs, alcohol, has one such interaction. Buspirone/Buspar and alcohol should never be consumed at the same time. 

The effects of alcohol use are somewhat similar to a few of buspirone’s side effects. Notably, dizziness, impaired coordination, and confusion all can result from both buspirone use as well as alcohol use. If an individual takes buspirone and then consumes alcohol, they may experience more potent versions of these side effects. Extreme dizziness and intense confusion can be dangerous, especially when driving. While the interaction may cause some intense feelings of disorientation, the combination is unlikely to be anything worse than that. Some substances can interact fatally with alcohol, so it is important to always be careful when on a prescription and consuming alcohol.

If an individual takes buspirone and then consumes alcohol, they may experience more potent versions of common side effects.

Understanding the Risks of Mixing Buspar and Alcohol

Though buspirone has effectively no risk for abuse, alcohol’s risk for abuse is nearly the opposite. Substance abuse of any kind can be extremely damaging over time, alcohol especially. If you think a loved one is suffering from a substance abuse disorder, contact us today. Alcohol may be the most common, but that does not mean it is the least threatening. An individual suffering from an addiction may not realize there is a problem, so reaching out to them may be life-changing. If you would like to read more about potential drug interactions or substance abuse disorders, read our blog.

Oxycodone and Alcohol

Prescribed primarily as a sedating painkiller, oxycodone falls into the drug classification of “opioid”. It is, however, unique within this classification due to its partially natural and partially synthetic production.

Oxycodone is the generic term for the substance that appears under brand names such as Oxycontin, Oxaydo, and Roxicodone/Roxycodone. As with all polysubstance abuse combinations, this drug interacts poorly if combined with alcohol.

How Does Oxycodone Work?

Before understanding how oxycodone and alcohol interact, it can be helpful to get a sense of the opioid’s action in the brain. Knowing how substances affect the brain and recognizing similar substances can reduce the number of accidental interactions.

Like most all opioids, oxycodone affects the brain’s pain-sensing pathways. Specifically, it effects the brain’s receptors, decreasing neuron excitability, and reducing communication between brain cells.

In doing so, the substance decreases neuron excitability, and reduces communication between brain cells.

In terms of potency, oxycodone parallels the strength of morphine–another opioid. 

Oxycodone has, however, been found to be less toxic in the long-term than morphine. For patients suffering from moderate-to-severe pain, therefore, oxycodone can be an excellent help for managing it. 

Unfortunately, ease of access to oxycodone means individuals often abuse this opioid. Substance abuse almost always naturally progresses to dependence, creating a heightened tolerance to the drug that leads to addiction.

Consequences of Oxycodone Misuse

While opioids can be a literal life-saver in the medical field, they can also be life-threatening when misused. The likelihood of discomfort, pain, or even death increases in the case that a user ingest incompatible substances at the same time. 

Individuals who misuse opioids may experience some unpleasant symptoms, and might also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop. Even with prescribed use, the symptoms of oxycodone generally include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Pain Relief
  • Slowed Breathing

Some kinds of oxycodone leave the user with liver damage after an extended use time. Habitually taking too much oxycodone can cause a tolerance to form, where the user must then progressively ingest more of the substance in order to experience its effects. 

This increased dose-size can put them at risk of an overdose, which exhibits symptoms such as:

  • Extreme Sleepiness
  • Light Breathing
  • Cold or Clammy Skin
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Coma
  • Death

If you think a loved one is experiencing an overdose, call emergency services immediately.

oxycodone overdose symptoms

Opioids and Ethanol – A Deadly Pair

The effects of oxycodone are remarkably similar to those of most sedatives: pain-killing and drowsiness are common effects of such substances. While these can be helpful when applied to individuals suffering from pain or other conditions, abuse of the prescriptions for the effects can lead to devastating outcomes.

Unfortunately, one of the most widely used and abused substances is also one that reacts dangerously with oxycodone: alcohol.

As a sedative, the symptoms of alcohol use commonly include drowsiness, unconsciousness, muddy thoughts, or slow speech. If these effects pair with oxycodone’s sedative-like effects, the symptoms can result in dangerously slowed body processes.

oxycodone and alcohol can dangerously slow body processes

Combined, these substances often produce effects similar to a life-threatening overdose. While many believe they understand the risk and take adequate lengths to avoid combining substances, alcohol’s tendency to impair the decision-making process can lead to accidental mixing.

Other Dangerous Interactions

Alcohol is likely the most common substance mixed in the body with oxycodone. However, other interactions can also be dangerous for an individual on a prescription or suffering from an addiction.

One other commonly used substance–marijuana–can be dangerous to combine with oxycodone. Studies examining the combination in the human body found that individuals experienced a compounded pain-killing effect. 

This effect is markedly less dangerous than alcohol and oxycodone, but the dual-enhanced sedative effect of the two may amount to a dangerous dosage size. 

A similar situation arises if oxycodone and stimulants are combined. Stimulants, like amphetamines (e.g. Adderall, Concerta, etc.) are substances that increase energy or activity processes in the body. Taking the two drugs together enhances the painkilling effects of the opioid, and the individual may end up taking too much of either.

Most of the time, combining any prescription with another–or even with an OTC medication–results in a dangerous combination. In the case of mixing oxycodone and alcohol together, the combination can be fatal.

Finding Freedom from Polysubstance Abuse

Opioid misuse can be a dangerous road, and combinations with other substances can yield unpredictable, often dangerous, effects. If you think a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, contact us today. 

Connecting to knowledgeable resources can help you make a decision about where to go from here. Understanding the options is a crucial first step in helping a loved one overcome a substance abuse disorder.

Cymbalta and Alcohol


Duloxetine, sold under the brand name Irenka or Cymbalta, is a prescription medication that usually comes as a capsule. Doctors usually prescribe Cymbalta for anxiety or depression, but they may also recommend it to help relieve pain.

Cymbalta can lead to complications with the liver, so consuming alcohol with the medication can cause liver damage or worsen a pre-existing liver disease.

Doctors usually prescribe Cymbalta to treat either anxiety or depression, but it can also be used to help relieve pain.

Cymbalta – The Ins and Outs

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Cymbalta can treat the following:

  • Major Depressive Disorder in Adults
  • Generalized anxiety disorder in persons 7 years or older
  • Diabetic nerve pain in adults
  • General muscle pain in persons 13 years or older
  • Chronic pain in the bones, ligaments, tendons, or muscles in adults

The FDA classifies Cymbalta as an antidepressant, but it can also be used to treat several types of pain. Both diabetic patients and those simply suffering from chronic pain may experience relief with proper use of Cymbalta.

Cymbalta mainly reduces stress and also reduces severity of emotions. Duloxetine works by reducing the brain’s ability to absorb both serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin is one of the body’s emotional hormones. By preventing its absorption, Cymbalta reduces the severity of emotions a patient will feel.

Norepinephrine, on the other hand, is the body’s ‘stress’ hormone, and is produced when the brain determines that the body is under tension. Cymbalta prevents norepinephrine from being absorbed in the brain, and improves mood as a result. In essence, this drug mainly reduces both stress and severity of emotions. 

However, the FDA recognized that the following side effects were common in patients with major depressive disorder who took antidepressants: 

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability/hostility or aggressiveness
  • Impulsivity
  • Restlessness
  • Bipolarity

The FDA also noted some side effects exclusive to Cymbalta:

  • Liver failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Skin reactions
  • Increased blood pressure

Indeed, Cymbalta can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, but most of the serious ones are rare. Moreover, they are more likely to cause complications in patients who have a pre-existing conditions. Fortunately, the FDA also determined that people who take Cymbalta don’t develop a dependence on the drug. Since it is non-addictive, it might be a better option than some other antidepressants.

 Cymbalta can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, but most of the serious ones are rare

The Impact of Alcohol

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) clearly outlines how excessive and/or chronic alcohol consumption can negatively affect the body:

  • In the brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s regular pathways, and interrupts clear thinking, decision making, coordinated movement, and mood.
  • The heart: Too much alcohol can lead to a number of heart-related complications, including misshapen heart muscles, irregular heart beat, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • In the liver: The liver metabolizes alcohol, and takes a toll from it in the form of a fatty liver, inflammation, scar tissue, and chronic liver damage.
  • In the pancreas: Alcohol prompts the pancreas to produce toxic substances that damage both the pancreas and surrounding organs.

Alcohol has also been studied to put the user at a higher risk of cancer. Too much alcohol causes a heap of unpleasant symptoms, but the combination of alcohol and Cymbalta can yield particularly nasty side effects. 

Cymbalta and Alcohol – A Dangerous Combo

It may not be inherently obvious that these two substances mix poorly, but if one were to take a look at both lists of side effects, the overlap puts the liver at especially high risk.

The FDA noted that Cymbalta should not be prescribed to individuals with pre-existing liver disease or chronic liver damage. This decision was due to the fact that Cymbalta sometimes causes liver damage, and patients who previously had liver complications could suffer severe liver damage.

On the other hand, NIH’s breakdown of alcohol’s effects on the liver include some of the exact side effects. Alcohol can wreak havoc on the liver, resulting in the formation of damaging scar tissue. Thus, excessive alcohol use can create the exact conditions that makes using Cymbalta excessively dangerous.

Alcohol can wreak havoc on the liver, resulting in scar tissue forming and chronic liver damageCymbalta can, however, also be applied to help patients who are struggling to overcome an alcohol addiction.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) conducted a study in which doctors prescribed Cymbalta to help mitigate the anxiety-like effects felt by individuals struggling with alcohol cravings. The participants originally responded well to Cymbalta, showing reduced cravings for alcohol. Unfortunately, many patients of the study suffered severe liver damage as a result of the drug.

Thus, while the drug can help patients overcome alcohol cravings, Cymbalta’s effect on people who had previously suffered from alcohol addiction is primarily negative, and other ways of overcoming cravings are more promising and less damaging to the liver.

Closing Thoughts

Cymbalta, an antidepressant, treats a wide variety of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Some of the side effects from it make it dangerous in individuals who have a liver disease, or who consume a large amount of alcohol.

The anxiety-treating aspect of Cymbalta can help decrease alcohol cravings in patients overcoming addiction, but the liver damage that commonly results make it a poor choice for treating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

To read more about addiction, visit our blog. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today, and we can help you on your journey. Overcoming addiction is difficult, and different for each person, but it doesn’t need to be taken on alone.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol


Combining any drug with alcohol can lead to an overdose and should be avoided. Some combinations, such as hydrocodone and alcohol, are especially dangerous. Generally speaking, drinking alcohol should always be avoided after taking any kind of medication. However, in order to understand why, it is important to know the risks of mixing drugs. 

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid agonist which is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain. It is a moderately potent opioid containing acetaminophen. It works by binding to and activating the mu-opioid receptors in the central nervous system, which in return causes analgesia (inability to feel pain), euphoria, cough suppression, respiratory depression and physical dependence. Hydrocodone’s other side effects include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle tightness
  • Painful urination
  • Ringing ears
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling of extremities

Its ability to cause a sense of euphoria is common amongst all opioids. This euphoria is one of the primary reasons hydrocodone and opioids in general are considered to be highly addictive substances. However, hydrocodone is not commonly considered a powerful opioid, and some people mistakenly see it as a “safe” drug. 

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) categorizes drugs based on their potential for abuse and medical utility. For example, a Schedule I drug has no medical uses and has a very high potential for abuse. These include heroin, LSD, ecstacy and peyote. Hydrocodone is classified as a Schedule II drug, as it has some identified medical purposes but a high potential for abuse, addiction, and other health risks.

Hydrocodone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Depressants actively slow down critical nerve functions, such as breathing and cognitive ability. Alcohol is also a CNS depressant and has similar effects. Mixing the two increases the risk of experiencing an overdose.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol

What Happens During an Overdose?

An overdose is simply the body’s negative response to more of a drug or chemical than it can handle. It can occur when taking too much of a drug or when combining two or more drugs which have similar effects. CNS depressants cause critical nerve function to slow down – specifically, the risk lies mostly with the respiratory system (since opioids slow down breathing). If you consume too much of a depressant, an overdose can occur. Not all overdoses are fatal; however, they can cause long-term organ damage. Without a consistent oxygen supply, the brain can experience permanent damage. If breathing is severely or completely impaired for any length of time, a fatal overdose is very likely. 

Other signs of an overdose include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Chest pain
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Blue lips and fingers
  • High body temperature
  • Unresponsiveness 
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

If you think someone has overdosed, call emergency services immediately. The ability to recognize an overdose in its early stages could be the difference between a fatal and non-fatal overdose.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol

What Happens When You Mix Hydrocodone and Alcohol?

Given that both drugs are CNS depressants, combining them makes overdose is more likely. The the body will suffer the combined effects of the opioid and alcohol, which may be too much for it to handle. Generally speaking, when combining two or more drugs, the drugs work to enhance each other’s negative side effects (without increasing any positive ones). This applies to hydrocodone and alcohol. However, even without the overdose risk, the combined influence of the two drugs can cause you to engage in dangerous behavior (such as driving) while under the influence, and increase the risk of accidents. 

Hydrocodone and Alcohol

How long does Hydrocodone stay in your system?

Hydrocodone has a half-life of 3-5 hours. This means it will take 3-5 hours for the ingested dose to effectively reduce to half of its original dose. If you take 10mg of hydrocodone, it will take 3-5 hours for that to reduce down to 5mg in your body. Even after the effects have worn off, drug tests can reveal the presence of hydrocodone in the body for days or weeks. Hydrocodone leaves the body faster than other opioids, but can still be detected in saliva 12-36 hours after last ingestion, in urine 2-4 days, and in hair for up to 90 days.

How quickly the body metabolizes hydrocodone differs from person to person. Various factors such as body fat percentage, age, history with the drug, and organ function all play a role in how effectively your body is able to process drugs and chemicals.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol: Getting help

Addiction is considered a chronic illness ,which means it has the same relapse rates as other chronic diseases. This can make lifelong sobriety very difficult. However, it does not make it impossible. The journey is different for everyone, and most people need professional assistance. A professional can help diagnose and treat the underlying causes behind the addiction, rather than just attempting to manage the symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today so that we can help begin your journey to sobriety.

Benadryl and Alcohol


While most people associate drug overdoses with intentional drug abuse, common over-the-counter drugs can still pose a risk when mixed with other substances. This includes combinations such as Benadryl and alcohol. 

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine medication used to treat mild allergies caused by insect bites, poisonous plants (such as poison oak and ivy), pollen, and some allergic reactions to animals. It is an over-the-counter medicine (OTC). This means that it does not require a prescription and people don’t generally think of it as a dangerous drug. There have been some cases of teens abusing Benadryl in order to experience its sedative effects. However, there is no evidence suggesting it is an addictive drug. The danger with Benadryl and other common OTC drugs is that sometimes people forget that they have taken them and proceed to consume other substances. 

Benadryl and AlcoholBenadryl is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, much like alcohol. CNS depressants slow down critical brain and nerve function. This depressive effect can be heightened when mixed with other depressants. Most of the time, people do not set out to mix Benadryl and alcohol. Rather, they don’t know the combination can be dangerous or simply forget they took it before drinking. Diphenhydramine’s half-life is 3.4 to 9.2 hours. In other words, if you take 10mg of Benadryl, it will take at least 3.4 hours for that amount to reduce to 5mg in your body. 

Alcohol and Benadryl: What Are the Risks?

Unintentionally mixing of two or more drugs can cause overdoses, especially if one of them is alcohol. When people take them together intentionally, it is called polysubstance abuse. The danger with Benadryl and other similar OTC drugs is that their half-lives are quite long. It can be easy to take an appropriate dose of Benadryl and forget about it later in the day when consuming alcoholic beverages. If the Benadryl and alcohol overpower the nervous system, experiencing an overdose is possible. 

Benadryl and Alcohol

Diphenhydramine Side Effects

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine have side effects that can become stronger when combined with alcohol. In general, mixing two or more drugs will enhance their negative effects. Some of Benadryl’s side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Stomach aches 
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth

Alcohol consumption poses an additional risk to people taking Benadryl. Some medications contain alcohol and should not be taken with antihistamines. These include laxatives and cough syrups. While mixing the two medications will not necessarily lead to overdose, it will likely cause intense discomfort and make the user feel as if they were drunk. Further, operating machinery or vehicles while mixing Benadryl with alcohol or another drug containing alcohol can lead to heavy impairment and could result in serious injury or death.

Benadryl for Sleep

Some people intentionally take Benadryl to help them fall asleep. This is due to the drowsiness the drug can cause, though doctors do not generally recommend it. While it is sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid, you should never take it for sleep without consulting a doctor or medical professional first. If you have trouble sleeping, it is best to consult a doctor who can then advise or prescribe the proper medication for the situation. 

Benadryl and Alcohol FAQ’s

Can you die when taking Benadryl and alcohol?

While mixing Benadryl and alcohol can lead to heavy sedation and an impared mental state, it is unlikely you will experience a fatal overdose from the mixture alone. The real risk lies in activities you might perform while impaired. Driving after taking Benadryl is never a good idea. When it is mixed with any amount of alcohol, it can pose serious driving risks. 

How long does Benadryl stay in your system?

Benadryl’s half life is 3 to 9 hours. This means the drug will typically leave the system within 24-48 hours. However, improper liver or kidney function can increase this window. There are no Benadryl drug tests, and employers will not look for it when testing for other substances. However, this does not mean it won’t be harmful to your health when not taken as directed.

Can a Benadryl and alcohol overdose cause shaking hands?

Alcohol consumption can cause an uncontrollable shaking, though this is not a common side effect. However, different people experience different reactions with Benadryl and alcohol, and all medications should be supervised when possible. Uncontrollable shaking can also mean an overdose, in which case you should seek medical attention immediately. An overdose commonly occurs when drug stimuli overwhelm the CNS, leading to critical organ failure. Since Benadryl and alcohol are both CNS depressants, it is possible to mix the two and experience an overdose at high enough levels. Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breath cessation 
  • Blue fingers or lips
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures

Benadryl and Alcohol

Getting Help

Addiction can take many forms and may not be easy to recognize at first. If you are consistently taking Benadryl or alcohol in large quantities to self-medicate for any reason, it may be time to seek help. Getting professional help can ensure that you are addressing the root causes and not just managing symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with any form of addiction, please contact us today so that we can help you on your journey to recovery.

Speedballing


Speedballing is combining heroin and cocaine. For many users, it brings about a longer-lasting, more intense high. However, it comes with a serious risk of experiencing a fatal overdose. 

What is Speedballing?

Speedballing involves mixing heroin, which is an opioid, and cocaine, a stimulant. With strong pain-killing potential, heroin is derived from morphine. Even though some opioids, such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, can have medical uses,  heroin is considered to be too addictive and has too high of a potential for abuse to have any medical use. Most drugs which lack medical use and are considered generally dangerous to an individual’s health are listed as  Schedule I drugs by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). 

SpeedballingA common misconception is that the stimulating effects of cocaine and the depressive effects of heroin cancel each other out, causing a risk-free high. However, mixing the two drugs can cause long term health effects and increase the likelihood of experiencing a fatal overdose. 

How does Heroin affect the body?

In order to better understand how mixing the two drugs can increase the overall risk, it can be helpful to better understand how the drugs work independently. Heroin is an opioid. Opioids are powerful painkillers which bind to the opiate receptors in the brain and spinal cord. To put it simply, these opiate receptors help receive nerve impulses that indicate the body is in pain. By binding to these receptors, the body can better suppress physical pain. In addition to its ability to rid feelings of pain, opioids can create a euphoric high in individuals. This is the main driver behind its illicit use.

This euphoric high promotes the body to release dopamine, the “feel good chemical,” in large amounts. Dopamine is the chemical our body releases when it receives a pleasurable input. This dopamine release is what motivated early humans to hunt and reproduce. In modern days, humans get dopamine from various inputs, such as eating, drinking, playing video games, and even being on our phones. This pursuit of pleasure is commonly what drives addiction, especially when coupled with mental health disorders (commonly referred to as  co-occuring disorders or dual diagnoses).

Further, opioids slow down brain and nerve function. This is partly the cause of the euphoric high people experience while taking these drugs. The drug can slow critical organ function such as breathing and heart rate to dangerously low levels. At a certain point, the drug can cause the complete cessation of these functions, causing an overdose. 

Speedballing

How does Cocaine affect the body?

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant, and like opioids, it causes the release of dopamine into the body – making it a highly addictive drug. Cocaine highs usually come with very intense feelings of energy and alertness. This drug essentially functions as the opposite of opioids. Cocaine overdoses are more rare than opioid overdoses; however, it is still very possible to do so if the levels become too toxic for the body to handle. As with opioids, the body will develop a tolerance to cocaine, making it harder and harder to achieve the same euphoric high feeling after consecutive uses. This leads users to take more of the drug each time, in hopes that it will recreate the same high they first felt. These increasing doses can eventually overwhelm the body and cause an overdose. 

Speedballing Side Effects

The mixture of cocaine and heroin can be ingested either by mixing the two drugs together and injecting or snorting it, or “piggybacked,” where the user injects one drug immediately after the other. Speedballing can cause serious long term effects on the brain, liver, and heart. It can also cause a fatal overdose. Other side effects of speedballing include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Aneurysm
  • Respiratory failure
  • Confusion 
  • Blurry vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Paranoia 
  • Insomnia 

Also, given the depressive and stimulant effects of the drugs, the body will experience a push and pull effect. This means that the effects of one drug will overcome the other momentarily. The heart rate may rapidly increase and decrease, leading to arrhythmias and heart failure. 

In general, mixing two or more drugs (polysubstance abuse) will cause the drugs to enhance each other. This may sound like a more enjoyable experience, but it also enhances the side effects drastically. 

In 2015 alone, there were 4,271 cocaine related deaths which involved any opioid; 3,481 of those directly involved heroin. This consisted of 65.4% of all cocaine-related deaths that year. Therefore, mixing heroin and cocaine can be directly related to an increase in the chance of death.

Getting help for Speedballing

Cocaine and heroin are two very addictive drugs which are extremely hard to quit. Given the complexities of these drugs, always seek professional help when attempting to recover. This is especially important since powerful withdrawal symptoms can occur when quitting either substance. Find a professional who understands your circumstances and can help you cure your addiction rather than just manage symptoms. Recovery is absolutely possible, but you do not need to do it alone. If you have any questions, or you or a loved one needs help beginning the road to recovery, please contact us today.

Ketamine and Alcohol

Many people have seen ketamine on the news as a rising drug of concern. While many think of it as a ‘horse tranquilizer’, though it acts as an anesthetic, there are other uses. Additionally, a lot of research is still necessary to fully understand it. A lot of people use ketamine recreationally and frequently in a party setting. Subsequently, ketamine and alcohol is an increasingly common combination with many not realizing the dangers.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a common dissociative drug with use as an anesthetic for medical purposes. However, as is the case with many medical drugs, it is possible to find and buy on the street. Dissociative drugs distort the users perception of sound and sight. Many users report feeling expressions of dissociation from their body and mind and find it rather calming. It is possible for an out of mind experience to produce powerful effects and leave the user craving more. This often occurs given its blissful and calming effects. However, these effects are also addictive and can cause a user to abuse ketamine in order to feel happy or high. Some clinical trials show the possibility of using ketamine as an antidepressant. However, there is not yet approval due to the lack of understanding on how ketamine affects the brain chemically.

ketamine and alcohol

Ketamine was developed as a replacement for phencyclidine (PCP) but was discovered to have a high potential for abuse and was later categorized as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Specifically, ketamine is a Schedule III which according to the DEA indicates that it has “ a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Ketamine affects many neurotransmitters in the brain, but its full chemical mechanism is not yet understood. So far, scientists believe that it blocks the release of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. NMDA is part of the glutamate class of neurotransmitters which represent one of the largest groups of transmitters in the brain. When released, NMDA speeds up brain function and the firing of neurons in the brain and spinal cord; therefore, when ketamine blocks the release of NMDA, the anesthetic and dissociative functions begin.

ketamine and alcohol

Side Effects

Like any drugs, even if someone perceives there are positive effects, there are negative side effects as well. There are plenty of side effects from taking ketamine which often worsen in combination with other drugs. Some side effects include:

  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Bluish lips or skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Vertigo
  • Skin rash
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate

Ketamine’s design is to slow brain function in order to help patients feel no pain during surgeries. Given that it slows brain function, it has the ability to affect respiratory performance by slowing your breathing down. 

Mixing Ketamine and Alcohol

Alcohol, when taken in smaller doses, can have stimulant-like effects on the body and brain; however, it is classified as a depressant. A central nervous system depressant slows down critical CNS functions such as breathing and coordination. When mixing two or more drugs (also known as polysubstance abuse), the effects of one will enhance the effects of the other. In other words, the depressive effects of alcohol will enhance the depressive effects of ketamine and vice-versa. While ketamine overdoses are rare on their own, mixing it with alcohol can greatly increase the chances of a fatal overdose. 

ketamine and alcohol

What is an OD?

An overdose, or commonly referred to as an OD, is your body’s negative biological response to having taken too much of a substance or mix of substances. Someone overdosing from a depressant (such as alcohol) will experience a severe drop in blood pressure, body temperature and breathing. A fatal overdose can occur if the effects of the overdose are so powerful, that breathing completely stops. Again, while ketamine overdoses are quite rare, mixing it with alcohol (or any other powerful depressant such as opioids or benzodiazepines) will exacerbate the overall response and can cause an overdose.

Treatment

substance use disorder

Addiction is considered to be a chronic disease which means that the genetic disposition to have addictive behaviors can be passed down from family members- similar to how other diseases such as Type II Diabetes can be inherited. That also means that addiction has similar relapse rates as some chronic diseases which is why seeking professional treatment and guidance is important in achieving a sober life. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), In 2017, 19.7 million Americans battled with a substance use disorder- and that number is on the rise. With more and more people dealing with the difficulties of addiction, many are finding that professional treatment and support groups offer the best chance at rehabilitation. If you or a loved one is suffering with addiction, please contact us today so we can work together to achieve a sober life.

Sleeping Pill Overdose

When people think about overdosing, sleeping pills are usually on the bottom of the list of drugs that can cause an overdose. Many individuals seem to think that sleeping pills improve the quality of sleep and therefore it has to be ok or at the very least, harmless to the body. Realistically, how much damage could come from sleeping? Unfortunately, the dangers of sleeping pills is commonly underestimated and can cause your sleep to worsen, and potentially result in permanent damage or even death. 

Sleep 101

Sleep feels amazing. There is no doubt about that. However, many people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep. According to the Sleep Research Society (SRS), the US economy loses $63 billion each year due to loss in productivity related to insomnia. Further, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly 35% of Americans do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. The causes of insomnia and other sleep issues are very complex. In some cases, there are reports of family history, depression, increasing work hours and even obesity as a cause for insomnia. Other issues such as the blue light emitted from our devices can contribute to sleep disorders. 

sleeping pill overdose

Millions of Americans use sleeping pills to help achieve better sleep and there are many options to pick from. For example, Benzodiazepine (benzos) sedatives are powerful prescription medications which sedate the body. Benzos are a less popular option due to the high potential for developing a dependence to the drug. Other popular options include Ambien, a sedative which falls under the hypnotic class of drugs, or Melatonin, a very common OTC sleep aid.

sleeping pill overdose

Can You Overdose on Sleeping Pills?

The short answer to “can you overdose on sleeping pills’ is yes. It is indeed possible to suffer a potentially fatal overdose on drugs such as Ambien. However, it is quite rare. Instead, most people will find that taking large doses or mixing sleeping aids with other drugs will produce a very bad experience, or in severe cases, permanent damage to the body. Sleeping pills in the past were more dangerous than they are now (such as Halcion) and saw high use among suicidal people as the idea of slowly falling asleep and never waking up sounded more pleasant.

Newer sleeping pills and sedatives have a design meant to help reduce the possibility of an overdose. For example, Ambien is typically prescribed in 10mg doses. Anything above 600mg can put you into overdose territory and cause permanent damage to your body. 2000mg is reported to be the fatal dose of Ambien- 200x the recommended dose.

Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

While all sleeping pills help induce some form of lethargy and sedation, different types of sedatives can have different side effects. 

For example, some side effects of pills such as Ambien, Rozerem, and Halcion include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Stomach pain

In some severe cases, people may experience parasomnias. Parasomnias are involuntary actions during sleep which you are not aware of or have control of. Some parasomnia behaviors include sleepwalking, sleep eating, making phone calls or even sleep driving. It is difficult to predict if you will experience parasomnia until you try taking sleeping aids. 

sleeping pill overdose

What Does a Sleeping Pill Overdose Look Like?

A sleeping pill overdose may be hard to identify at first. Most pills help people sleep by sedating the individuals central nervous system and slowing brain activity until they fall asleep. The danger of taking too much is that the drug will suppress the body too much and critical organs such as your lungs, slowly cease to work. This can be worsened when sleeping pills are combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.

Some indicators of a sleeping pill overdose are:

  • Extreme lethargy- By design, these medications will make you feel tired and very lethargic. However, there is a noticable difference between just sleepy and unable to function properly. In the latter case, it may be smart to contact emergency services just in case. 
  • Breathing problems- As mentioned, sedatives slow critical bodily function. However, a healthy dose will not make it uncomfortable and should be barely noticeable. If bodily functions begin to slow too much, this may be a sign of an overdose. Paying attention to breathing patterns is usually a good indicator of whether or not someone is experiencing an overdose.

Unfortunately, sleeping pill overdoses may even go unnoticed by the victim as they are fast asleep and too sedated to do anything about it. It may take the help of a bystander to get someone the help they need.

sleeping pill overdose

Sleeping Pills and Alcohol

While it is unlikely that someone will overdose on just sleeping pills, the mixing of any two central nervous system depressants can greatly increase the risk of an overdose. CNS depressants slow critical body function like breathing and brain function. Mixing ambien and alcohol for example can overpower the body causing the cessation of breathing and dangerously low brain and heart function. The mixing of two drugs is also known as polysubstance abuse and brings about its own deadly set of consequences.

Sleeping pills are not the only option when seeking better quality sleep. Usually, people struggle with getting sleep because of environmental and behavioral habits. Some ways to manage your sleep are:

  • Reducing stress or finding ways to manage it by picking up hobbies such as yoga
  • Better time management
  • Avoiding stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine in the evenings
  • Drinking more water
  • Avoiding daytime naps
  • Eating healthy food
sleeping pill overdose

The Bottom Line

Sleeping pills can be helpful for those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, everything comes in moderation and taking more of a sleeping aid does not mean you will enjoy a better night’s sleep. In fact, taking too much of an aid like melatonin, can cause more sleep problems and make you feel less rested and more tired the next day. It is always recommended that you moderate your use to the prescribed amount and always seek professional opinion before taking any sleep supplements.

If you or a loved one you know is suffering from dependence to sleeping pills, please contact us today so we can help you on your path to recovery.