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

Elena Hill, MD, MPH profile image
Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH • Updated May 13, 2023 • 7 cited sources
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Combining morphine and alcohol can be dangerous. Risks include severe respiratory depression and fatal overdose in the short term, and addiction in the long term. 

In the short term, Morphine and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants. Therefore their effects, when taken together, may be exacerbated. Taking them together can increase the risk of accidental overdose and death. 

In the long term, if you’re struggling with an opioid use disorder (OUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD) simultaneously, you could have more difficulty maintaining recovery. 

What Do Morphine & Alcohol Do?

What Does Alcohol Do?

Alcohol is a natural fermentation product, created by rotting fruits, grains or vegetables. It is a depressant substance. [1]  It is also a legal substance, meaning it is used frequently. In 2020, about 1.34 billion people worldwide consumed alcohol.[2] 

What Does Morphine Do?

Morphine is from a class of medications called opioids. Opioids have a number of roles in the body. At a simplistic level, morphine and other opioids prompt the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine. These chemicals produce feelings of euphoria and dampen sensations of pain. Opioids, like alcohol, have properties of respiratory suppression. 

Can You Mix Morphine & Alcohol?

Because opioids and alcohol both cause respiratory depression and sedation, mixing them can lead to dangerous side effects. [4] If taken in combination, one increases the risk of extreme sedation, respiratory suppression and even death. 

Long term, alcohol misuse can change your reaction to drugs like morphine.[5] You may need more of the drug to address pain, increasing the risk of developing an opioid use disorder (OUD).

Treatment Options for Morphine & Alcohol Misuse

Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) programs are designed for people with OUD and alcohol use disorder (AUD). If you’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with morphine or alcohol, a MAT program could be what you need to quit for good.

MAT programs to treat OUD use medications like Suboxone and Methadone to treat opioid use disorder. For AUD, medications like disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate are used.

Bicycle Health uses telemedicine to deliver MAT treatment to individuals managing a substance use disorder. Contact us to find out if a virtual approach to SUD treatment is right for you.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where ... Read More

  1. Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 2022. Accessed April 2023.
  2. Global Study Finds Surprising Results for Alcohol Consumption. CNN. July 2022. Accessed April 2023.
  3. Facts on Addiction and Opioids. Arlington, Virginia. Accessed April 2023.
  4. Can I Drink Alcohol If I'm Taking Painkillers? National Health Service. January 2020. Accessed April 2023.
  5. Binge-Like Exposure to Ethanol Enhances Morphine's Anti-Nociception in B6 Mice. Frontiers in Psychiatry. January 2019. Accessed April 2023.
  6. Effects of Alcohol on the Pharmacokinetics of Morphine Sulfate and Naltrexone Hydrochloride Extended Release Capsules. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. May 2011. Accessed April 2023.
  7. About the Epidemic. State of Michigan. Accessed April 2023.
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