Mixing Alcohol & Methadone | Effects & Dangers

When methadone is taken with alcohol, it can cause severe side effects that include labored breathing and unconsciousness

Methadone is a prescription opioid and central nervous system (CNS) depressant that’s often used in methadone treatment for opioid addiction. It can help ease opioid withdrawal symptoms and opioid/opiate cravings. It does this by blocking the euphoric feelings that come with opioid use.

However, methadone is still an opioid that’s classified as a schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse.

Alcohol (also known as ethanol) is also a CNS depressant with a high potential for abuse. When methadone is taken with alcohol, it can cause severe side effects that include labored breathing and unconsciousness.

Effects Of Mixing Alcohol & Methadone

Since methadone and alcohol both depress the central nervous system, the depressant effects can increase when you abuse the two together. Mixing them can lead to shallow breathing and increase the risk of an opioid overdose.

The side effects of methadone and alcohol may also include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • changes in behavior and mood
  • difficulty with motor control
  • memory problems
  • slurred speech
  • impaired judgment
  • extreme fatigue
  • fainting
  • unconsciousness
  • changes in vision
  • balance problems

Dangers Of Mixing Methadone & Alcohol

Besides the side effects of mixing alcohol and methadone, some serious dangers can also occur when mixing these two CNS depressants.

Physical Dependence & Withdrawal Symptoms

Because methadone and alcohol both have a high risk of abuse, they also carry a high risk for physical dependence.

This means that if you take a high dose of methadone along with large quantities of alcohol over a long period of time, your body can build up dependence to the point where it may not work properly if you stop drinking alcohol or taking methadone.

Trying to quit once you’ve built up a dependence can lead to withdrawal symptoms like:

  • anxiety
  • shaky hands
  • nausea/vomiting
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • confusion
  • racing heart
  • high blood pressure
  • fever
  • heavy sweating
  • tiredness
  • restlessness

Overdose

Mixing alcohol and methadone can also increase your risk of overdose and can make it easier to overdose than if you were only taking one substance or the other. Taking the two together can lead you to become intoxicated much quicker and with more intensity.

Additionally, since both substances are CNS depressants, they amplify the effects of one another and can lead to breathing problems, a low heart rate, coma, and even death.

Liver Damage

If you’re abusing methadone and alcohol together, you can also have a higher risk of liver damage. Alcohol abuse is well-known for damaging the liver. Methadone abuse has also been shown to have a negative impact on the liver.

When excessive alcohol consumption is mixed with methadone, that impact can increase and lead to serious liver issues.

Brain Damage

Alcohol use has also been shown to lead to brain damage. When drinking excessive amounts, alcohol can lead to depression of the nervous system which can shrink brain tissue and destroy cells.

Abusing methadone on top of that can lead to difficulty breathing which can further harm and damage the brain when it doesn’t get enough oxygen.

Treating Opioid & Alcohol Use Disorders

If you or a loved one lives with methadone and/or alcohol addiction, both addictions likely need to be treated simultaneously.

The first step is likely a detoxification treatment program. A detox program can ensure you’re in a safe environment and that any issues that occur are treated appropriately by a healthcare provider.

After you’re stabilized, the next step is usually either inpatient or outpatient treatment. They offer similar services like individual therapy, group therapy, and co-occurring disorder treatment for other mental health issues.

At Northeast Addiction Treatment Center, we offer a number of outpatient treatment options for substance use disorder, including medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and ongoing peer support.

To learn more about our substance abuse treatment services, please contact us today.

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