The Risky Mix: Potential Side Effects of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

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Prescription medications are powerful drugs that provide relief from a variety of health problems. When doctors tell you not to drink while taking prescriptions, it isn’t just some off-handed warning that can be taken lightly. Alcohol-medication interactions can lead to unexpected, potentially disastrous side effects.1

This is especially true for prescription opioids such as Vicodin. This powerful prescription opioid medication provides pain relief for severe pain. Mixing Vicodin and alcohol can be dangerous and cause lasting harm. What are some of the potential side effects of alcohol-medication interactions with opioids?

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a brand-name prescription pain medication that contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid pain reliever and one of the most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. Vicodin is a helpful medication when taken as prescribed, but it also has a high potential for misuse, particularly when combined with other substances.

Alcohol-Medication Interactions: Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

Mixing Vicodin and alcohol can be dangerous. Alcohol is a depressant that can enhance the effects of other substances in your system. The risks of alcohol-medication interaction are serious and should not be taken lightly.2 There are numerous risks for potential combinations when you mix Vicodin and alcohol including:

  • Central Nervous System Depression. Both Vicodin and alcohol can depress the central nervous system (CNS). When combined, this can lead to severe CNS depression, potentially causing slowed breathing, drowsiness, impaired coordination, and confusion.
  • Respiratory Depression. Alcohol-medication interactions with opioids can significantly slow down the respiratory system. This can lead to dangerously shallow or slowed breathing, which may be life-threatening.
  • Increased Risk of Overdose. Combining Vicodin and alcohol increases the risk of overdose, as the sedative effects can make it difficult to notice signs of overdose and respond in time.
  • Liver Damage. Both alcohol and acetaminophen are metabolized by the liver. Combining them can place additional stress on the liver and increase the risk of liver damage or liver failure.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues. The combination of opioids and alcohol can increase the risk of nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Impaired Judgment. Combining alcohol and Vicodin can impair judgment and decision-making, leading to risky behaviors and accidents.
  • Memory Impairment. The interaction between alcohol and opioids can lead to memory impairment and blackouts.
  • Increased Tolerance and Dependence. Using alcohol and opioids together can increase tolerance to both substances. This can lead to increased use and a higher risk of dependence or the development of a substance use disorder.

Treatment for Vicodin and Alcohol

It is essential to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and medication label warnings when taking Vicodin or any other prescription medication. If you are prescribed Vicodin, it’s crucial to avoid alcohol while taking it to reduce the risks associated with their combined use. 

If you currently struggle with mixing alcohol and Vicodin, help is available. Addiction treatment programs like Pasadena Villa understand the effects of alcohol-medication interaction. We’re equipped to provide a path out of the grips of addiction and into the light of recovery. Call us at 407-215-2519 or submit an online contact form today to learn more about our programs and find out how we can help.


  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014). Harmful Interactions Mixing Alcohol with Medicines.
  2. University of Michigan. (2021). The Effects of Combining Alcohol with Other Drugs.

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