The effects of each substance are enhanced, which also increases the risk of overdose and possibly death. Additionally, simultaneously using the substances increases the risk of a substance use disorder and need for subsequent addiction treatment.
What Is Dilaudid?
Dilaudid is an opioid medication prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. In a medical setting, it is given to patients following surgery, after a serious injury, to treat moderate to severe cough, or to manage serious pain associated with cancer.
Dilaudid is the brand name drug for hydromorphone. It comes with risks of tolerance and dependence, so use is only recommended when pain cannot be effectively treated with other safer medications. Dilaudid works by altering the way the brain and body perceive pain. When misused, it can also produce a euphoric high and sense of relaxation.
Due to the opioid epidemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added additional warnings about the safe prescribing of opioids like Dilaudid. While Dilaudid has recognized medical benefits, the risk of dependence, addiction, and overdose is high. Patients, caregivers, and prescribing physicians must be aware of signs of opioid abuse as well as symptoms of overdose and how to address it.
The Effects of Combining Alcohol & Dilaudid
Experts warn that mixing alcohol and Dilaudid exposes individuals to the risk of life-threatening effects, as the effects of each substance are enhanced. Opioids and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants.
Side effects of Dilaudid, which can be enhanced by alcohol, include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety and depression
- Stomach pain
- Flushing of the skin
- Itching or hives
- Dry mouth
- Heavy sweating
- Sleep disturbances
- Chest pain
- Agitation and hallucinations
If you or someone you are with begins to exhibit any of the above symptoms, seek medical treatment right away. Symptoms can quickly progress to a life-threatening situation, particularly if respiratory depression occurs. Medical intervention can manage serious effects caused by mixing alcohol and Dilaudid and prevent a fatal overdose.
Risks of Mixing Dilaudid & Alcohol
One of the greatest risks of mixing alcohol and Dilaudid is the risk of overdose. Alcohol and opioids can trigger difficulty breathing or cause a person to stop breathing altogether.
The exact effects of combining any drugs are unpredictable. The effects of the drugs together are likely stronger than when consumed individually. It can be hard to predict how the body will react to the mixture of Dilaudid and alcohol, and the results can be fatal.
Risks associated with polysubstance drug use, or combining two or more substances at once, include the following:
- Overdose, both fatal and non-fatal
- Violence and aggressive behaviors
- Risky sexual behavior
- Contracting chronic diseases
Risk of Addiction
People combining substances are also at a greater risk of developing an alcohol or other substance use disorder. And mixing Dilaudid or any opioid and alcohol indicates misuse of both substances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified several factors associated with higher rates of polysubstance abuse, including use of alcohol and opioids. Such factors include the following:
- Being young and male
- Being non-Hispanic Black
- Having a lower household income
- Frequently binge drinking
Additionally, people who binge drink are four times as likely to also misuse other substances at the same time compared to people who do not drink. Avoiding alcohol consumption when using other substances is the best way to prevent the serious risks of polysubstance abuse.
What Happens to Your Body When Dilaudid & Alcohol Are Mixed?
When Dilaudid and alcohol are mixed, the effects of each substance are amplified, explains the CDC. Combining these substances, either at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other, can impact important bodily functions. Together, opioids and alcohol can cause a person to stop breathing and cause damage to the brain, heart, and other important organs.
In 2017, approximately one in seven opioid-related deaths involved alcohol that was consumed within a few hours of the opioids being taken. The risk of fatal overdose has since grown. From 2019 to 2020, the CDC observed a 41% increase in overdoses deaths involving opioids and alcohol.
Polysubstance abuse may be intentional or unintentional. In either case, it is dangerous to mix substances, particularly two drugs with depressant effects like Dilaudid and alcohol.
Over 250 people die every day due to drug use. As of 2019, half of all drug overdose deaths involved polysubstance use.
Treatment for Polysubstance Abuse
Due to the serious risks of polysubstance use, treatment is essential.
Immediate treatment for polysubstance abuse may include treatment for an overdose. Signs of an overdose from mixing depressants, like Dilaudid and alcohol, include the following:
- Altered mental state
- Passing out
- Slow or stopped breathing
- Weak pulse
If you observe the above signs in someone, call 911 immediately and stay with the person until help arrives.
If you have naloxone (Narcan) available, administer it to the person. Naloxone can immediately reverse an opioid overdose if given soon enough. Further medication care is still needed even if naloxone is given.
Someone with a polysubstance use disorder will require treatment similar to any substance use disorder. Addiction to each substance must be addressed, as well as any underlying health and mental health issues the person may be struggling with. In the case of addiction to Dilaudid and alcohol, the person likely has both an opioid use disorder (OUD) and an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Depending on the individual’s needs, personal situation, and history of substance use, treatment can be offered in an outpatient, inpatient, or residential setting. Comprehensive and individualized treatment plans, including counseling and therapy, medication management, and use of possible medications for substance use disorders, may be appropriate. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is frequently used as an effective treatment for both OUD and AUD.
Upon completion of a treatment program, a plan to maintain sobriety should be established, including identification of peer support groups and any continued care, like ongoing personal therapy, that the individual could benefit from. Both alcohol and Dilaudid are dangerous in their own rights when abused. But ongoing mixing of these substances can be incredibly dangerous, even fatal, so it’s imperative to seek addiction treatment.
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- Polysubstance Use Facts. (February 2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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