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Lortab & Alcohol | Potential Dangers to Your Overall Health

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Sep 25, 2023 • 8 cited sources

Combining Lortab with alcohol is dangerous because both substances act as depressants, suppressing some of the body’s necessary functions. 

Mixing Lortab and alcohol can lead to severe drowsiness, breathing issues, impaired judgment and reduced cognitive functioning. The mixture can trigger a potentially life-threatening overdose.[1] 

It is important for patients who are prescribed Lortab to know the risks in advance and refrain from mixing the drug with any other substances, including alcohol.

Lortab Side Effects

Lortab is a prescription pain reliever made up of hydrocodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen (a pain reliever).

As with any medication, Lortab may cause side effects. These unintended and often undesirable reactions are usually short-lived and fade as the body adjusts to the medication. However, they may recur when the dosage is increased. 

Not everyone experiences side effects when taking Lortab, but when they do occur, it is generally due to one of the following causes:[1]

Central Nervous System (CNS) Effects

The hydrocodone in Lortab works to alleviate pain by binding to specific opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, but this interaction may have adverse side effects, such as drowsiness, sedation and respiratory depression.

Lortab can lead to various CNS side effects, such as dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion and impaired cognitive function.[2] These side effects may result from its effect on neurotransmitters in the brain.

Gastrointestinal Effects

Hydrocodone and acetaminophen can irritate the digestive system, leading to adverse side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation and abdominal discomfort.[1]

Histamine Release

Opioids such as hydrocodone can activate a histamine release, an allergy-causing substance that is responsible for side effects like itchiness and rash.[6]

Dosage & Duration of Lortab Use

Higher doses or prolonged use of the drug can increase both the likelihood and severity of side effects.[2]

Drug Interactions

Lortab may interact with other medications the user is taking, potentially leading to harmful or worsening side effects.[1]

Pre-Existing Conditions

Certain pre-existing medical conditions, including respiratory issues, liver problems or kidney disease, may increase your chances of experiencing certain side effects from Lortab. These pre-existing conditions often cause side effects to last longer or be more severe.

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Lortab

Combining alcohol and Lortab can be very hazardous and should be avoided at all costs. Both substances have central nervous system depressant effects, and mixing them could intensify side effects of each substance with potentially deadly results.[1] 

Here are some potential serious adverse reactions of mixing alcohol with Lortab:[3]

  • Increased sedation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Increased risk of overdose 
  • Liver toxicity
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased addiction risk

The reasons why someone may mix alcohol and Lortab may have an impact on the exact effects experienced. 

If someone has a drink while taking Lortab and is unaware of the risks associated with combining those two substances, the effects are usually finite and include the more immediate effects, such as impaired motor skills, poor judgment and increased sedation. As long as there are no underlying substance misuse issues, liver problems or gastrointestinal issues, and the doses of both Lortab and alcohol are low, the dangers associated with accidental ingestion of the two substances will generally pass with the effects of the drug. 

But if someone purposefully misuses Lortab and alcohol in order to get high or routinely mixes substances as a part of an ongoing opioid use disorder (OUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD), or in order to self-medicate underlying mental health issues, risks increase. They may be more likely to experience significant and life-altering dangers of mixing these substances, such as respiratory depression, overdose and liver toxicity.[3]

Long-Term Effects of Lortab Misuse

Long-term Lortab misuse can have lasting and harmful consequences on both physical and mental health. If Lortab misuse develops into an OUD, those effects can be significant and potentially life-threatening. 

Possible effects of Lortab misuse include the following:[1] 

  • Physical dependence on Lortab
  • Tolerance
  • Organ damage
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Respiratory issues
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Mood disorders
  • Social and occupational challenges
  • Heightened risk of overdose, which can be fatal
  • Legal issues
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Relationship strain
  • Financial difficulties

Finding Help for Opioid & Alcohol Misuse

While misuse of either Lortab or alcohol on their own is dangerous, the risks rise exponentially when the substances are misused together. 

Together, they have a synergistic effect, meaning that their cumulative effect on the brain and body are exponentially more impactful than the sum of their two effects separately.[7] This means a higher chance of being overwhelmed by the combination physically and mentally. You may make poor decisions under the influence that change the course of your life, or you may experience a life-threatening overdose.[8]

Every time you combine Lortab and alcohol, you put your life at risk. We can help. 

At Bicycle Health, we are here to support you on your path to recovery. We offer Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) with Suboxone, a medication that can effectively manage OUD.

With MAT, you won’t experience intense cravings for Lortab or withdrawal symptoms.[5] You can focus on getting well in therapy and building a better future. To learn more about our unique program, contact us today. 

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. Lortab – hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablet. US National Library of Medicine. Published July 21, 2010. Accessed August 4, 2023.
  2. Substance use – prescription drugs. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Published April 30, 2022. Accessed August 4, 2023.
  3. Harmful interactions: mixing alcohol with medicines. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Published 2003. Accessed August 4, 2023.
  4. Alcohol and other substance use. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published July 25, 2022. Accessed August 4, 2023.
  5. How can prescription drug addiction be treated? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published March 9, 2023. Accessed August 4, 2023.
  6. DeDea, Larissa PharmD, BCPS, PA-C. Prescribing opioids safely in patients with an opiate allergy. JAAPA 25(1):p 17, January 2012.
  7. Singh AK. Alcohol interaction with cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, nicotine, cannabis, and γ-hydroxybutyric acid. Biomedicines. 2019;7(1):16. Published 2019 Mar 7. doi:10.3390/biomedicines7010016
  8. Tori ME, Larochelle MR, Naimi TS. Alcohol or benzodiazepine co-involvement with opioid overdose deaths in the United States, 1999-2017. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(4):e202361. Published 2020 Apr 1. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.2361

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