Is Mixing Opioids and Alcohol Dangerous?

Table of Contents

Combining opioids with alcohol is extremely dangerous and strongly discouraged. Both substances act as depressants of the CNS (central nervous system), reducing brain activity and triggering effects like drowsiness, impaired coordination, and slowed breathing. Mixing the substances leads to intensified depressive effects, dramatically increasing the likelihood of severe complications like unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and overdose, alongside an increased risk of accidents and injuries. Use opioids only as directed by a prescribing physician and avoid consuming alcohol concurrently.

Alcohol and Opioids Interactions

When someone combines opioids with alcohol, it carries the risk of severe and sometimes fatal risks. Alcohol and opioid interactions include:

  • Increased risk of overdose: Both alcohol and opioids depress the CNS, and this is magnified when the substances are used simultaneously. This increases the chance of a life-threatening opioid overdose. With synthetic opioids like fentanyl, just a few grains could be deadly.
  • Loss of motor skills and compromised judgment:  Individually, alcohol and opioids diminish cognitive and motor capabilities. When used together, though, these impairments are magnified. Resultantly, this form of polysubstance abuse is associated with an increased risk of accidents.
  • Extreme sedation: the concurrent use of alcohol and opioids can provoke extreme drowsiness and sedation, potentially leading to unconsciousness or a coma-like state.
  • Memory issues: Opioids and alcohol together can disrupt the formation of memories, leading to blackouts and an inability to recall events.
  • Worsening mental health conditions: The mix can inflame symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, complicating existing conditions.
  • GI distress: Combining these CNS depressants can provoke nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, contributing to health risks and overall discomfort.
  • Liver damage: Both alcohol and opioids strain the liver individually. Their combined effects heighten the chances of someone developing liver damage. It may also worsen existing liver issues.
  • Dependence and addiction: Using opioids and alcohol together significantly raises the risk of dependence and addiction, complicating discontinuation.
an image of someone dealing with effects of mixing alcohol and opioids

Effects of Mixing Opioids and Alcohol

The intensified effects of mixing alcohol with opioids can result in grave health issues, including the risk of overdose, organ damage, severely depressed breathing, coma, or even death. Opioids alone can cause slowed breathing, drowsiness, confusion, constipation, and nausea, while alcohol consumption may lead to slurred speech, loss of coordination, an unsteady walk, eye movement issues, and cognitive impairments, potentially culminating in stupor or coma.

The combination of alcohol and opioids increases the likelihood of engaging in dangerous behaviors, susceptibility to chronic diseases, involvement in violence, injury risks, overdose potential, and the chances of developing dependence and addiction.

Physical dependence emerges when the body adjusts to the presence of a substance, leading to withdrawal symptoms if substance use is reduced or discontinued. Addiction, a chronic yet treatable condition, is characterized by compulsive substance use despite adverse effects on all areas of life.

What to Do for Opioids and Alcohol Overdose

If you suspect that someone is experiencing an overdose from opioids and alcohol, act quickly and carry out the following steps:

  • Call emergency services immediately: Dial 911. Time is critical in an overdose situation.
  • Provide clear information: Tell the emergency responders exactly which substances were taken, if known, and any other relevant medical history of the person overdosing.
  • Do not leave the person alone: Stay with them until help arrives. If they are unconscious, try to keep them on their side to prevent choking.
  • Administer naloxone if available: If you have access to naloxone (Narcan) and know how to use it, administer it as soon as possible. Naloxone can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose but does not counteract alcohol poisoning.
  • Follow CPR instructions: If the person is not breathing and you are trained in CPR, begin the procedure and continue until medical help arrives. If you are not trained, the emergency operator may guide you over the phone.

Remember, an overdose of opioids and alcohol is a medical emergency. Quick and informed action can save a life.


Is it safe to mix opioids and alcohol?

No, mixing opioids and alcohol is unsafe. This combination can intensify the effects of both substances, increasing the risk of overdose and respiratory depression.

Can mixing alcohol and opioids kill you?

Yes, mixing alcohol and opioids can be lethal. The combination can provoke dangerous levels of respiratory depression, potentially leading to fatal overdose.

How can I help someone who has been mixing opioids and alcohol?

Encourage them to seek medical help immediately and offer your support as they pursue medical treatment. Being available to listen and providing information on local resources can also be beneficial.

I’ve been mixing opioids and alcohol, what should I do?

Seek medical assistance as soon as possible if you’ve been mixing opioids and alcohol. Reach out to a healthcare provider or a local addiction treatment center to discuss your recovery options.

ohio community center building representing alcohol and opioids addiction treatment

Get Help Overcoming Opioids and Alcohol Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you need help recovering from the effects of opioids or alcohol abuse, reach out to Ohio Recovery Centers. We specialize in the outpatient treatment of opioid addictions at our rehab facility in Cincinnati, OH.

Outpatient therapy equips you with the skills you need to tackle opioid use disorder without forcing you to neglect your everyday commitments. Outpatient treatment is not only flexible and affordable, it’s also almost always covered by health insurance.

Due to the unique presentations of all addictions, expect to access personalized treatments that blend medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy, and holistic treatments with a comprehensive aftercare component.

Call 877-679-2132 today and move beyond opioid and alcohol addiction.

Table of Contents

an image of author Joe Gilmore

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.
An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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!

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

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