Article at a Glance:

  • Methadone is a prescription opioid used to treat opioid addiction and, like alcohol, is a central nervous system depressant.
  • Combining methadone and alcohol can increase the side effects of each and increase your risk of overdose on either substance.
  • If someone you love is abusing methadone or alcohol, they may need treatment for an opioid addiction, alcohol addiction or both.

What Happens When you Mix Methadone and Alcohol?

Methadone is a prescription opioid prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and as a part of an opioid addiction treatment plan. If you are prescribed methadone, you may wonder if you can still have alcohol while taking the medication. This is not recommended and can have dangerous health complications.

Understanding the side effects of mixing methadone and alcohol and what makes this combination harmful can help you avoid a potentially fatal outcome. If you or someone you know is struggling with a methadone or alcohol addiction, help is available.

What Is Methadone?

As a prescription opioid, methadone depresses the central nervous system, which essentially alters the way the body responds to pain. It’s also commonly used in the detoxification phase and replacement therapy for heroin addiction and other severe opioid addictions because it helps to avoid or reduce a patient’s opioid withdrawal symptoms. Its extended-release formulation helps prevent opioid abuse by avoiding the high possible with other opioid medications.

What Are the Side Effects of Methadone and Alcohol?

Even if used as prescribed, methadone can have its share of negative side effects on the body and the brain. Some of the side effects associated with methadone and alcohol abuse include:

  • Slow or shallow breathing (methadone)
  • Sweating (methadone)
  • Slurred speech (alcohol)
  • Impaired judgment (alcohol)
  • Nausea/vomiting (both)
  • Dizziness or drowsiness (both)
  • Extreme fatigue (both)
  • Fainting/unconsciousness (both)
  • Seizures (both)

Shallow or slowed breathing can be a sign of respiratory depression, a symptom of an opioid overdose. While it is difficult to overdose on methadone due to its lower abuse potential and how slowly it enters the body, it is still possible if injected, snorted or otherwise misused.

These are only the short-term, external side effects. There are several internal, long-term side effects as well, especially of excessive alcohol consumption. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • A higher cancer risk

Dangers of Mixing Methadone and Alcohol

Methadone and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants, so combining them can amplify the effects of each. Taking methadone and alcohol together also increases one’s risk of overdose, which can lead to breathing problems, a weak heart rate, coma and death.

Both methadone and alcohol also carry a risk of physical dependence, in which a person experiences uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the substance. Physical dependence often leads to an addiction that requires treatment to get better. Using multiple substances at once, called polysubstance use, can make a person’s addiction more complicated and difficult to treat.

Treatment for Methadone and Alcohol

If you or someone you care about is struggling with methadone and alcohol misuse, either on their own or combined, treatment should be sought as soon as possible. Many of the side effects of methadone and alcohol abuse are entirely treatable and reversible, so now is the time to seek professional help. The Recovery Village offers various individualized treatment programs that address various substance abuse cases, including those related to methadone and alcohol abuse. Call today to speak with one of our trained professionals.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.

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