Stuck on Opioids? Learn About Telemedicine Suboxone - Insurance Accepted.

Learn More

Combining Dilaudid & Alcohol: What Are the Dangers & Risks?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated May 20, 2023 • 3 cited sources
prescription pills with glass of alcohol

Dilaudid is a powerful prescription painkiller, and it’s not entirely safe to use independently. Combining it with alcohol is even more dangerous. Unfortunately, far too many people mix alcohol and opioids like Dilaudid.

Experts say excessive drinking is associated with plenty of health problems. And co-occurring alcohol use is a common issue among people who report high rates of prescription drug misuse.[1] 

If you mix alcohol and Dilaudid, you are risking your life and should stop. It’s simply not worth it.

What Do Dilaudid & Alcohol Do?

Learning about Dilaudid and alcohol can help you understand why mixing them is so unwise and why so many people do it. 

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a liquid central nervous system depressant. Each sip triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters, flooding the body with signals to relax and unwind. 

Drinking can help people feel relaxed, happy and free from consequences. As your inhibitions drop, you may be likely to make poor decisions, including taking painkillers. 

What Is Dilaudid?

Dilaudid is the brand name of hydromorphone, an opioid painkiller. Doctors prescribe this drug to patients with strong pain signals that don’t respond to other forms of therapy.

Dilaudid comes in pills, tablets and injections. It’s also available from street dealers, but you can’t be sure that the drugs you buy actually contain hydromorphone or some other drug. When Dilaudid pills purchased on the street contain fentanyl, overdose is likely.

Some people misuse Dilaudid because it causes euphoria, even when used at therapeutic levels. Some people start using this drug due to pain but keep using it because of the changes it delivers. Once use repeats for long enough, it can be very difficult to stop.

Can You Mix Dilaudid & Alcohol?

While many people mix these two substances, no one should. Combining Dilaudid with alcohol is not safe at any level. 

Experts say combining Dilaudid with alcohol can increase your overdose risk. A dose of Dilaudid you might take that seems safe could be far too much when combined with even a small amount of alcohol.[2]

Some people who are prescribed Dilaudid to manage pain simply forget that they aren’t supposed to mix it with alcohol. Others who misuse Dilaudid recreationally may intentionally combine it with alcohol in an effort to achieve greater euphoria. Either way, the practice is very dangerous.

What Are the Risks & Dangers Associated With Mixing?

Mixing alcohol with Dilaudid can cause life-threatening problems, even when you don’t think you’re taking too much of either substance. 

Mixing Dilaudid with alcohol can lead to overdose symptoms, including the following:[3]

  • Dizziness
  • Extreme sedation
  • Slow or uneven breathing
  • Unresponsiveness 

Other problems can occur too. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, capable of slowing your breathing and heart rates. Anytime you drink, these changes can happen. But when you mix alcohol with other drugs, the alcohol can do the following:[2]

  • Increase the sedation other drugs can cause
  • Slow down the other drug’s removal from your body 
  • Transform some drugs into chemicals that can harm your liver

Don’t mix alcohol with Dilaudid. Even if you think it’s safe, you could be wrong, and the results could be deadly. 

Treatment Options for Polysubstance Misuse

While you might know that mixing Dilaudid with alcohol is unsafe, you may also feel incapable of quitting. You might need a program that uses Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT). 

In an MAT program, doctors use medications to treat opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. For OUD, medications like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) can reduce chemical imbalances that are caused by drugs like Dilaudid. 

While you’re using Suboxone, you will likely not experience opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because you are not distracted by discomfort, you are able to focus on building a new life that doesn’t involve drug misuse. 

Other medications (like disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate) are used to treat AUD. Other medications may also be prescribed to address co-occurring disorders or individual health issues. Your treatment team can determine the right medications to use for your specific case.

You can stay in an MAT program indefinitely, and many people do. The longer you use your medications, the less likely you may be to relapse to drugs. As long as a medication continues to support your recovery efforts, it’s worth continuing.

Bicycle Health uses telemedicine to administer MAT. Meet with your doctor in a video appointment, and pick up your medications at a pharmacy near you. Contact us today to find out if this type of treatment is right for you and your future.

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Alcohol Involvement in Opioid Pain Reliever and Benzodiazepine Drug Abuse-Related Department Visits and Drug-Related Deaths: United States, 2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 2014. Accessed April 2023.
  2. The Interrelationship Between the Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs. Office of Justice Programs Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project American University. August 1999. Accessed April 2023.
  3. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA Warns About Serious Risks and Death When Combining Opioid Pain or Cough Medicines with Benzodiazepines; Requires Its Strongest Warning. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. August 2016. Accessed April 2023.
Safe, effective Suboxone treatment from home. Learn More

Imagine what’s possible on the other side of opioid use disorder.

Our science-backed approach boasts 95% of patients reporting no withdrawal symptoms at 7 days. We can help you achieve easier days and a happier future.