You should take precautions when using any medication, especially prescription painkillers. Drugs like Vicodin are best used on their own, without any other substances, especially alcohol. When combined, Vicodin and alcohol can heighten the side effects of the prescription drug and compound the individual effects of each substance. Confusion, breathing problems and liver damage are all potential reactions to Vicodin and alcohol.

You should always consult with your doctor about potential negative reactions to any prescription medication, especially when used in conjunction with other medications or substances like alcohol. Be sure to follow all warning labels on your medication, especially those that warn against consuming alcohol while taking Vicodin.

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a prescription medication made with a combination of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) and hydrocodone (an opioid painkiller). These two ingredients work together to combat moderate to severe pain and reduce fever. Hydrocodone works to block nerve cells in the brain that produce the sensation of pain. Acetaminophen blocks the body’s creation of chemicals that cause pain and fever.

Vicodin doesn’t come without risks, especially when used in conjunction with other substances like alcohol. It’s important to talk to your doctor about all potential reactions, particularly with common substances like alcohol. Because it has the potential to cause a host of negative side effects like liver damage, it is best to avoid combining alcohol and Vicodin.

What are the Side Effects of Vicodin and Alcohol?

Both Vicodin and alcohol act as depressants and can have negative side effects when taken together. Alcohol and Vicodin are both addictive substances, so if you have a personal or family history of substance use disorder, it is best to avoid them, especially together. One of the biggest risks of mixing alcohol and Vicodin is liver damage.

Other side effects may include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of coordination and motor function
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Liver damage

Dangers of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

Vicodin and alcohol are both serious substances that carry individual risks. These hazards are amplified when the substances are used together. Because both acetaminophen and alcohol have the potential to cause liver damage, the combination of the two is particularly dangerous. Some reactions may be fatal. Hydrocodone can decrease breathing, particularly in the elderly or people with serious lung issues.

It is important to understand the risks involved with Vicodin use and avoid combining it with alcohol. If you have any other concerns or questions regarding the interactions between Vicodin and alcohol or other substances, talk to your doctor. Rehabilitation centers like The Recovery Village can help you manage your Vicodin and alcohol use if they have gotten out of hand.

Treatment for Vicodin and Alcohol

Alcohol is known to be one of the most widely used addictive substances. When used in conjunction with Vicodin, some may develop a dependence on both. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, alcohol or both, there are services that can help. The Recovery Village specializes in caring for patients who are experiencing substance use disorders or co-occurring disorders (addiction and mental illness together).   

Treatment for alcohol and prescription drugs like Vicodin usually starts with medical detox, a clinical process that transitions people away from substances. After this crucial stage, patients typically move into inpatient or outpatient programs, where they gain the confidence and skills necessary to live a life free from drugs and alcohol. Group and individual therapy are vital parts of therapy and can equip you with the tools necessary for long-term recovery. To find out more about treatment options, contact an intake coordinator at The Recovery Village and kick-start your healing.

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
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.