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Mixing Prescription Painkillers and Alcohol – What’s the Risk?

Many people who are using pain medications are warned to avoid alcohol by their physician or pharmacist. This is because mixing prescription painkillers and alcohol tends to adversely react on the patient. While most people are familiar with the warnings associated with alcohol and over-the-counter cold medications, few are aware of the deadly combination of prescription painkillers and alcohol.

A Dangerous Combination: Prescription Painkillers and Alcohol

Alcohol by itself can cause some of the following symptoms in users:

  • drowsiness
  • loss of fine motor control
  • depression
  • dizziness

Alcohol can also cause dangerous blood pressure changes that lead to fainting and can cause damage to both the heart and the liver. Pain medicines such as benzodiazepines can cause liver failure in large doses and lead to repressed breathing. When these two substances are combined, the chances for a serious overdose greatly increase.

In extreme cases, mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol can lead to depressed breathing. This can be fatal and should be classified as a medical emergency. Sadly, both prescription painkillers and alcohol can be addictive, and mixing the two can be deadly. A person who is heavily addicted to painkillers, for example, may not have the presence of mind to understand that drinking while using these medications can kill them. The risk of overdosing and dying from such a combination is very, very high. Anyone who is struggling with an addiction to both of these substances needs to seek professional help. Mixing prescription painkillers and alcohol can be deadly.

Getting Help for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

People who are abusing prescription painkillers and alcohol may need to be encouraged to seek help from an outside source, such as friends or family. However, the person struggling with substance abuse may not get the full benefit of a recovery program until they understand that they want to recover for their own sake.

Once a person realizes that they want to overcome their addiction to prescription painkillers and alcohol and commit to a long-term solution, then the next step usually involves seeking professional treatment of some kind. There are several options available, but the two most commonly used recovery programs are outpatient and inpatient therapy. The latter tends to be more successful in assisting patients with long-term recovery and stability.

Why Inpatient Therapy?

Inpatient therapy is one of the best options available for a person who needs to recover from their addiction to both alcohol and prescription pain medications. Inpatient programs can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, or even longer if it is deemed necessary by a court or a medical authority. They are often covered by insurance plans, and payment plans can be arranged for those who do not have insurance.

One of the biggest advantages of inpatient therapy is that constant professional supervision is provided to the patient. This is especially important during the initial period of physical withdrawal from substances. After this, they will have access to group therapy sessions, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions, and one-on-one sessions with trained professionals. They can also participate in groups that will provide them with the skills they need to maintain their recovery after they leave the inpatient facility. Recreational activities are also provided. This helps them form relationships with others who are recovering, thus creating a new support network for the patient after they return to their lives and social circles.

Finally, inpatient therapy is probably the best option available because it keeps the patient away from the environment in which they used to abuse alcohol and prescription painkillers. With outpatient therapy, the patient regularly returns to the situation that reminds them of the prior substance abuse. This can trigger a relapse, which can be deadly due to the potential side effects of alcohol and pain medicines. In extreme cases, patients may even have to stop associating with people from their former lives entirely so that they avoid relapsing.

You Can Recover from Addiction to Prescription Painkillers

Recovery cannot be accomplished alone, as the risk of relapsing is too great. In order for treatment to be successful, the patient needs to be surrounded by a community of health professionals and individuals who have also chosen recovery. Simply put, painkillers and alcohol do not mix. Those who struggle with an addiction to both need to focus on getting better in an inpatient setting.

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