What Is Butorphanol?

Butorphanol is a prescription medication that can be used to treat pain ranging from moderate to severe. Butorphanol is similar in many ways to morphine, and it’s classified as a synthetic agonist-antagonist opioidanalgesic. Butorphanol was at one point available as the brand-name drug Stadol. Now, that’s been discontinued, and it’s only available as a generic drug. Butorphanol is available as an injectable tartrate and as an intranasal spray. A tablet version of butorphanol is used in veterinary medicine. The most common way butorphanol is prescribed is as a nasal spray, used to treat migraine headaches. Butorphanol is also used in the injectable version to treat pain experienced during labor.

Butorphanol has a lower potential for misuse than other prescription narcotic pain relievers for a few reasons. First, it selectively activates opioid receptors but also serves as an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the effects of other opioids. Butorphanol is only a partial opioid receptor, so the effects are milder than with other opioids. Butorphanol is believed to have a ceiling effect as well. This means that beyond a certain amount, butorphanol’s effects won’t continue to increase. Despite the lower misuse potential, it is still possible, and there is a black box warning about misuse and dependence when using butorphanol. Butorphanol is a Schedule IV Narcotic controlled substance in the U.S.

Mixing Alcohol And Butorphanol

There may be different situations where someone could mix alcohol and butorphanol. If someone is prescribed the medicine, they could inadvertently mix it with alcohol without thinking about it. Some people might mix alcohol and butorphanol purposely, however, to increase the effects of the substances. Regardless of why someone is mixing alcohol and butorphanol, it can be dangerous. Even in the best-case scenario, mixing alcohol and butorphanol is likely to create side effects like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and drowsiness. People who mix alcohol and butorphanol might experience short-term memory loss or blackouts as well. Butorphanol is primarily metabolized by the liver as is alcohol. This can make the concentrations of butorphanol higher in the system of a patient who’s mixing it with alcohol. It can also cause liver impairment to mix alcohol and butorphanol.

There is a black box warning with butorphanol about the risk of breathing problems that can stem from the use of this medication. Since butorphanol affects the central nervous system and is a depressant, it can slow breathing. Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant. When the two are combined, it can cause breathing problems that are serious or can become deadly. Patients are warned against mixing alcohol and butorphanol because of the risk of death that can occur. Other central nervous system depressants shouldn’t be used with butorphanol either. Other CNS depressants can include benzodiazepines and prescription sleep aids.

Summing Up Side Effects, Interactions And Blackouts Of Mixing Alcohol And Butorphanol

The risks of mixing alcohol and butorphanol can range from nausea and vomiting to severe or life-threatening respiratory depression. If someone is regularly mixing alcohol and butorphanol, they may also become addicted to both substances. This would represent a polysubstance addiction, which can be more complex to treat and recover from. Mixing alcohol and butorphanol can mean that someone has a dependence on both substances as well, which can complicate withdrawal and make it riskier. There’s not a good reason in any circumstance to combine alcohol and butorphanol, and it can be a fatal combination.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.