The Dangers of Mixing Fentanyl and Alcohol

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Mixing fentanyl with alcohol is extremely dangerous and can be deadly, even if you do it just once. Fentanyl is a man-made drug that’s much stronger than heroin – it’s so powerful that even a little bit can kill you. Fentanyl and alcohol mixed mean that the dangers get even worse. 

Alcohol makes the effects of fentanyl stronger, which can quickly lead to very serious health problems or even an overdose without meaning to. Using these two together can mess up your heartbeat, stop your breathing, put you in a coma, or even cause death. Read on to learn more about fentanyl abuse, the problems of fentanyl alcohol combined, and fentanyl long-term effects like addiction or overdose.

Fentanyl and Alcohol Interaction

When alcohol and fentanyl are used together, they interact in a way that significantly increases the risk of dangerous and potentially fatal side effects. Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid, and alcohol is a depressant. Both substances slow down the body’s central nervous system, which controls vital functions like breathing and heart rate. When combined, this slowing effect is amplified.

The interaction between fentanyl and alcohol can lead to a dramatic decrease in breathing and heart rate. This is particularly hazardous because it can happen so quickly that the person may not realize they are in danger. The risk of accidental overdose skyrockets, as the body’s ability to handle these substances is overwhelmed. Beyond this, the presence of alcohol can make it harder to effectively reverse a fentanyl overdose with naloxone, a medication used in emergency situations.

Can Mixing Fentanyl and Alcohol Cause Death?

Mixing fentanyl with alcohol can indeed be lethal. The combination of these two substances poses a critical risk due to their compounded depressant effects on the body’s central nervous system. Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, significantly slows down vital functions such as breathing and heart rate. Alcohol, also a depressant, exacerbates these effects. When combined, the likelihood of severe respiratory depression increases, where breathing can slow down to a dangerous level or stop altogether, potentially leading to death.

The danger is heightened because it’s difficult to gauge the combined impact of these substances. Even small amounts of fentanyl, when mixed with alcohol, can rapidly lead to life-threatening situations. The risk of accidental overdose is significantly higher with this combination, as symptoms can quickly progress to an unresponsive state, coma, and potentially death, often resulting from respiratory failure.

Fentanyl and Alcohol Effects

These are the most common effects triggered by mixing fentanyl and alcohol:

  • Respiratory depression: The simultaneous use of fentanyl, a potent opioid, and alcohol, a central nervous system depressant, greatly amplifies the risk of respiratory depression. This condition is characterized by a significant reduction in the rate and depth of breathing. The compounded effect can rapidly escalate to respiratory arrest, a critical condition where breathing ceases completely, posing an immediate threat to life.
  • Impaired cognitive function: The combination of these substances severely impairs cognitive abilities. Individuals may experience profound drowsiness, confusion, disorientation, and a reduced ability to make sound judgments. This impairment can severely impact the ability to perform basic tasks, operate machinery, or make rational decisions. The risk of accidents and injuries rises substantially under these conditions.
  • Increased risk of overdose: When fentanyl and alcohol are used together, the risk of accidental overdose skyrockets. The overlapping effects can lead to severe symptoms such as profound sedation, an inability to wake up, markedly slow or halted breathing, and a lack of responsiveness. Even small amounts of these substances, when combined, can lead to these life-threatening outcomes.
  • Cardiovascular complications: This combination can disrupt normal heart rhythms, leading to irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and critically low blood pressure (hypotension). These cardiovascular disturbances can result in fainting, dizziness, and an increased risk of heart failure or other severe cardiac events.
  • Potential for coma and death: In extreme cases, the synergistic effects of fentanyl and alcohol can induce coma, a state of deep unconsciousness from which a person cannot be awakened. This state often results from severe respiratory failure or cardiovascular collapse and can rapidly lead to death if not immediately addressed.
  • Enhanced mental health risks: Beyond the immediate physical dangers, combining fentanyl and alcohol can exacerbate underlying mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or psychotic disorders. This can lead to a worsening of symptoms and an increased likelihood of engaging in risky or harmful behaviors.
  • Long-term health consequences: Repeated use of fentanyl and alcohol in combination can lead to chronic health issues, including long-term cognitive impairments, persistent respiratory problems, and ongoing cardiovascular health issues. It can also accelerate the progression of addiction and substance use disorders.

The combination of fentanyl and alcohol is extremely hazardous, significantly elevating the potential for acute and long-term adverse health outcomes. The profound risks associated with this combination underscore the critical need for heightened awareness, caution, and avoidance of concurrent use. Both substances are highly addictive and their synergistic effects pose severe threats to health and safety.

Get Treatment for Fentanyl and Alcohol Addiction at Ohio Recovery

Fentanyl is highly addictive, but addiction to this synthetic opioid is also treatable. When you choose outpatient treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers, you will have time to meet your everyday commitments while engaging with personalized therapy at our treatment facility in Cincinnati, OH.

If you feel that you need a more supportive and structured approach to addressing fentanyl addiction, we also offer more intensive outpatient programs.

After detoxing from fentanyl under medical supervision, you can access ongoing psychotherapy, counseling, and medication-assisted treatment. You will also have a chance to participate in holistic therapies to supplement science-based treatments.

Call 877-679-2132 today and kickstart your recovery right away.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn