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The Risks of Combining Alcohol & Treatment Medications

Duke City Recovery Toolbox in Albuquerque, New Mexico provides medication-assisted treatment to address opioid dependency and/or drug (narcotic) addiction. For many participants, treatment medications allow them to lead pretty normal lives. However, that “normal” life should not include drinking alcohol, even socially. The combination of treatment medications and alcohol is dangerous, possibly even fatal.

How Opioid Treatment Medications Work

The medications used in pharmacology therapy include methadone and suboxone. These medications are central nervous system depressants—they slow vital system functions, including:

  • Respiratory rate
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure

If abused, these medications can cause an overdose. While opioid antagonists like Narcan can reverse an overdose, the medication takes time to work—up to five minutes. In five minutes, the brain can be starved of oxygen, causing permanent brain damage.

Dangerous Combination

Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant. When alcohol is combined with opioids and/or opioid replacement medications, the chances of overdose and poisoning increase.

One reason that overdose risk increases is because treatment medications stay in the system significantly longer than heroin or prescription pain killers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. So, if an individual simply feels “balanced” (not “high”) and reaches for a drink, there are likely still enough opioids in their systems to present a problematic combination with any amount of alcohol.

Preventing Overdose

Although we take every precaution to prevent overdose, ultimately, only a participant can prevent it. To encourage compliance with your treatment program and change behaviors that put you at risk, we offer more than medical services. We offer a number of therapies to help you identify triggers, overcome resistance to change and support to stay on your path to sobriety.

To start your individualized addiction recovery program, contact us to schedule an intake appointment. You may also walk-in for an intake between 6:00 and 8:00 am Monday through Thursday.

Understand the risks of combining alcohol and recovery medications. Contact us if you need additional support or resources.

Re-tooling Lives and Restoring Souls