Mixing Alcohol And Subsys Side Effects, Interactions And Blackouts

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Subsys is a pain medication intended to be used to manage breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are at least 18 years old. Subsys provides a spray version of fentanyl, which is a very potent opioid medication. The patient sprays the medication under their tongue and holds it there for up to a minute. They will then receive rapid pain relief as it absorbs through the transmucosal membranes. Someone prescribed Subsys should also be on an around-the-clock opioid medication to treat underlying, ongoing pain. Individuals prescribed Subsys should be opioid-tolerant as well. Since Subsys is an opioid, when someone uses it, there are specific risks. These risks can include addiction and dependence. Subsys can also cause respiratory depression, which is why it should only be used in opioid-tolerant patients. Subsys is estimated to be 100 times more powerful than morphine. Despite rigid prescribing guidelines for Subsys, it is sometimes misprescribed to people who don’t have cancer pain. It’s also diverted from medical use in some cases.

Subsys, as with other opioids, comes with a black box warning. The warning refers to the risks of fatal respiratory depression and the importance of keeping this medicine away from children. There are also warnings about potentially deadly interactions between Subsys and other central nervous system depressants. Before someone can be prescribed Subsys, their physician is supposed to talk to them about their history of substance misuse, and any substances they regularly use including alcohol. Additionally, there are specific prescribing instructions indicating Subsys should not be prescribed for acute or postoperative pain, migraine headache pain or dental pain. It shouldn’t be used in the emergency room either.

Mixing Alcohol And Subsys Side Effects, Interactions And Blackouts
Mixing alcohol and Subsys can be dangerous and, not uncommonly, deadly. Anytime someone is mixing an opioid, which is what Subsys is, with alcohol, it’s risky. Both alcohol and Subsys are central nervous system depressants. While they have different mechanisms of action, both alcohol and Subsys slow the functions of the central nervous system down. The CNS is responsible for some of the body’s key functions. This includes breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. At a minimum, mixing alcohol and Subsys can lead to severe intoxication, drowsiness, loss of coordination, and cognition and memory problems. Someone who mixes alcohol and Subsys is at high risk of being in an accident, hurting themselves or hurting someone else. The worst-case scenario when mixing alcohol and Subsys is that a person’s breathing could slow so much that it causes an overdose. Mixing alcohol and Subsys can cause brain and organ damage because of a lack of oxygen. Mixing alcohol and Subsys can also cause breathing to stop altogether.
If someone is using two substances simultaneously, such as alcohol and Subsys, they likely will require specialized addiction treatment. A person using such a dangerous combination of substances without regard to the high likelihood of death will require addiction treatment that addresses each addiction on its own and how they relate to one another. Before someone can begin addiction treatment for mixing alcohol and Subsys, they will likely have to complete a medical detox. Alcohol withdrawal can be deadly, and while fentanyl withdrawal isn’t likely to be deadly, it can be highly uncomfortable. Once someone safely and comfortably completes detox, they can receive treatment for their use of alcohol and Subsys. Due to the significant risk level of mixing alcohol and Subsys, it’s extremely important to seek help sooner rather than later.

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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.