What Happens When You Mix Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

Mixing prescription drugs and alcohol can be dangerous, even deadly. Many people do it because they don’t think it’s that dangerous, but that’s not always the case. Mixing drugs and alcohol can lead to all sorts of problems, from mild nausea to death. Understanding these effects can help stop people from mixing prescription drugs and alcohol, which can, in turn, prevent illness and save lives.

Most Commonly Misused Prescription Drugs

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs are the most commonly misused substances in the United States. The most commonly abused classes of drugs include:

  • opioids (such as OxyContin and Vicodin)
  • central nervous system depressants (such as Xanax and Valium)
  • stimulants (such as Adderall and Ritalin)

These drugs are typically prescribed for legitimate medical purposes but can be dangerous when used improperly.

What Happens When Prescription Drugs Are Misused?

Misusing prescription drugs means taking the medication in a way that is not intended by the prescribing doctor. This can include taking a higher dose than prescribed, taking someone else’s medication, or taking the medication for reasons other than what it is prescribed.

As the body becomes tolerant to the effects of the drugs, larger and more frequent doses may be required in order to achieve the desired effect. This increased use can quickly spiral out of control, leading to physical and psychological dependence. In addition, misusing prescription drugs can lead to a number of health issues, including liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, and cardiac problems. Additionally, it can lead to impaired judgment and decision making, which can in turn lead to accidents and injuries. Finally, misusing prescription drugs is illegal and can result in a prison sentence.

Opioid Misuse

When used as prescribed by a doctor, opioids can provide significant pain relief. However, these medications can also be misused, leading to several health problems. Opioids work by binding to receptors in the brain, which alters pain perception and can produce feelings of euphoria. This effect makes opioids so effective at relieving pain, but it also makes them so addictive. When opioids are misused, they can cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, and even coma. In extreme cases, misusing opioids can lead to death.

Depressant Misuse

Depressants are substances that slow down the nervous system. This can lead to feelings of relaxation and improved mood. However, depressants also come with a risk of misuse and abuse. Depressants can cause slurred speech, impaired coordination, and slowed breathing when taken in large doses. In extreme cases, they can even lead to coma or death. Misusing depressants can also lead to tolerance, which means that larger doses are needed to achieve the same effects. Tolerance can lead to dependence. When individuals become dependent on depressants they experience withdrawal symptoms when use ends.

Stimulant Misuse

When taken as prescribed, stimulants can benefit people suffering from conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy. However, when these drugs are misused, they can have serious consequences. Stimulants increase alertness, energy, and focus, which can lead to problems like insomnia and anxiety. When taken in large doses, stimulants can lead to heart problems and psychosis. In addition, stimulants are often abused with other drugs or alcohol, which can amplify their effects and increase the risk of overdose.

What Happens When You Mix Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

Mixing prescription drugs and alcohol can have dangerous consequences. Alcohol can increase the effects of some drugs and decrease the effects of others. It can also interact with drugs in ways that lead to serious side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired judgment
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of overdose

Opioids and Alcohol

When you mix opioids and alcohol, the two substances interact in your body to produce a third substance called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene is more toxic than either alcohol or cocaine alone, and it can stay in your system for up to 72 hours. Mixing opioids and alcohol also intensifies the effects of both drugs, increasing the risk of overdose and other serious side effects. For example, drinking alcohol while taking OxyContin can make you feel sedated and dizzy and slow your breathing. Mixing opioids with alcohol is particularly dangerous because it increases your chances of accidentally overdosing.

Depressants and Alcohol

When you mix alcohol with other depressants, such as sleeping pills or illegal drugs, you risk several dangerous side effects. The most serious potential complication is respiratory depression, which occurs when the breathing rate slows down to the point where it can no longer effectively exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. This can lead to unconsciousness and even death. Other risks associated with mixing depressants and alcohol include impaired motor skills, impaired judgment, and increased risk of accidents. So if you’re planning on drinking, avoiding mixing alcohol with any other substance that could impact your respiration is best.

Stimulants and Alcohol

When you mix stimulants and alcohol, the resulting effect can be both dangerous and unpredictable. Alcohol is a depressant, while stimulants are drugs that increase alertness and energy levels. Stimulants include caffeine, nicotine, and methamphetamine. This means that the two substances can have opposite effects on the body. Mixing alcohol with stimulants can counteract the sedating effects of alcohol, leading to increased alertness and energy levels. This can cause people to drink more than they otherwise would, leading to intoxication and potentially dangerous behaviors. In addition, the stimulant effects of caffeine and nicotine can mask the drunkenness caused by alcohol, leading people to underestimate their level of intoxication. Mixing these two types of substances can also lead to dangerously high blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increased anxiety and aggression. Sometimes, it can also lead to seizure activity or death. Because of the potential risks, it is always best to avoid mixing stimulants and alcohol.

Get On The Road To Recovery Today

If you’re struggling with prescription drug and alcohol addiction, it’s not too late to get help. Contact us today and let us show you how we can get you back on track. You don’t have to suffer any longer — there is hope for a better tomorrow. With the right support, you can overcome your addiction and reclaim your life.

Innovative, Evidence-Based Therapies

Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

This low-impact magnetic stimulation activates neurons inside the brain, relieving symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

qEEG/Brain Mapping

Using brain scanning and readings, we create a map of our patients’ brains, helping us develop more targeted and effective treatments.


This process assists patients in visualizing their own brain functionality through continuous EEG readings.

Spravato Therapy

We use carefully monitored doses of Spravato to help patients struggling with complex mental health disorders, including severe depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Patients use this practice to help reframe intrusive or negative thought patterns and develop coping techniques for long-term recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This practice helps patients learn to regulate emotions, communicate more effectively, and process their own thoughts and feelings..

Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR)

Licensed and trained therapists guide patients through this technique for managing stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.

Individual Therapy

Patients experience one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist to provide a safe and private place to recover and heal.

Group/Family Therapy

Patients can practice the skills and techniques they have learned in treatment with others in a safe, therapist-guided space.

Contact StoneRidge Centers

5940 E. Copper Hill Dr. Ste B & E, Prescott Valley, AZ. 86314

We exercise progressive, leading brain science in our treatment approach for patients in our community and across the country who are struggling with mental health and addiction challenges.