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The Deadly Cost of Mixing Fentanyl & Alcohol

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Oct 2, 2023 • 8 cited sources

The combination of fentanyl and alcohol can have lethal consequences.[1] Both substances depress the central nervous system, amplifying the risk of respiratory depression, which can lead to a loss of consciousness, brain damage or death. 

The combination of the two drugs together amplifies the effects, so the result is far more powerful than simply adding the effects of alcohol to the effects of fentanyl. This dangerous synergy increases the chance of life-threatening overdose exponentially compared to the risk of taking either drug alone, even in large amounts.[7] 

Should You Mix Fentanyl With Alcohol?

No, it is never a good idea to mix fentanyl and alcohol.[2] Both substances act as central nervous system depressants, meaning that they slow down activity in the mind and body. When taken together, this combination may lead to severe respiratory depression that can result in coma or even death.

If you are taking fentanyl for pain management, it is important to avoid drinking alcohol or taking other substances that could interact with the medication.[1] Strictly follow all directions from your physician and take the medication exactly as prescribed.

The Dangers of Mixing Fentanyl With Alcohol

Alcohol and fentanyl may interact in ways that pose risks to the user. A few of the issues that alcohol and fentanyl may trigger when mixed include the following:[1,3]

Enhanced Depressant Effects

Again, alcohol and fentanyl are both central nervous system depressants. Taken together, they may lead to increased sedation and relaxation that could slow cognitive and motor functions, possibly impairing judgment and coordination.

Increased Respiratory Risk

One of the primary concerns associated with mixing alcohol and fentanyl is its potential to induce respiratory depression. Both substances have individual properties that slow breathing. When taken together, that effect is heightened considerably.

Potential for Overdose

Fentanyl is notoriously strong among opioids, and mixing the drug with alcohol could increase the risk of overdose.[4] Because these substances become exceptionally stronger when ingested together, it may be harder to avoid taking too much of either or both, increasing the risk of potential adverse reactions.

Individual Variability

Individual responses to drug interactions depend on factors like tolerance, metabolism and overall health. A dose that is not overly harmful to one individual may bring devastating consequences to someone else. 

Similarly, body systems tend to fluctuate significantly when one is living with an active opioid use disorder (OUD). A dose that is nonlethal one day could trigger an overdose the next.

Medical Considerations

Alcohol and fentanyl could present additional obstacles when it comes to medical treatment. When treating an overdose that occurred due to use of a combination of substances with complex interactions, standard overdose treatments may not be effective. Emergency medical personnel may struggle to identify the cause of the overdose and to effectively address it before it is too late.

Behavioral Risks 

Combining alcohol with fentanyl may lower inhibitions and decrease decision-making abilities. This can mean making choices that harm yourself physically or mentally, hurt bystanders in the event of an accident, and damage other areas of life, including work and personal relationships.  

MAT for Fentanyl Misuse & Alcohol Use Disorder

Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) is a successful approach in addressing both OUD related to fentanyl misuse and alcohol use disorder (AUD). MAT combines the use of medication with behavioral therapies for an integrated and comprehensive way to treat both OUD and AUD.[5,8]

At Bicycle Health, we offer Suboxone to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with OUD. Our program offers the following:

Comprehensive Assessment

We start the healing process by conducting a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s medical history, substance use patterns and overall health to develop an individualized treatment plan that fits their unique needs and challenges in recovery.

Medication Management

MAT refers to the use of FDA-approved medications like Suboxone to help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, while minimizing the risk of relapse.[6] At Bicycle Health, we offer online consultations, and you can often get a same-day prescription for Suboxone.

Telehealth Services

With virtual counseling sessions available via telehealth services, we make care accessible to individuals who may have difficulty accessing in-person services due to factors like location, transportation costs or time restrictions.

Monitoring & Adjustments

We work closely with each patient to help them manage the ups and downs that come with long-term recovery. We keep a close eye on progress, modifying treatment plans as needed. Supportive supervision and monitoring are important steps toward improving overall health over time.

Get Help Today

At Bicycle Health, we’re ready to help you take the first step toward a life without fentanyl and alcohol misuse. While it may have felt impossible to stop using a potent drug like fentanyl in the past, MAT makes the process manageable. 

Reach out to us today to learn more about our life-changing MAT treatment program for OUD.

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. Fentanyl | Opioids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published August 8, 2023. Accessed August 19, 2023.
  2. How drugs can kill and how to stop them. Learn Genetics Utah. Accessed August 19, 2023.
  3. Understanding the dangers of alcohol overdose. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Published January 2023. Accessed August 19, 2023.
  4. Fentanyl. Your Room. Accessed August 19, 2023.
  5. Understanding alcohol use disorder. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Published 2020. Accessed August 19, 2023.
  6. Information about medication assisted treatment (MAT). U.S Food & Drug Administration. Published May 23, 2023. Accessed August 19, 2023.
  7. Singh AK. Alcohol interaction with cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, nicotine, cannabis, and γ-hydroxybutyric acid. Biomedicines. 2019; 7(1):16.
  8. Kadam M, Sinha A, Nimkar S, Matcheswalla Y, De Sousa A. A Comparative Study of Factors Associated with Relapse in Alcohol Dependence and Opioid Dependence. Indian J Psychol Med. 2017;39(5):627-633. doi:10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_356_17

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