Percocet and Alcohol: What Happens When One Mixes Them Together?

Last Updated: June 24, 2020

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Patients who find it challenging to handle substance abuse, are likely not to be limited to one substance. In this instance, taking Percocet and alcohol together it the common thing to happen. People who feel the need to mix their painkiller medications with a stimulant might find themselves prone to dangers of drug interactions. Alcohol and acetaminophen, an active ingredient in Percocet, could give to users a kind of euphoric effect, but this is strictly discouraged as these two types of substances could damage the body severely. Getting to know how alcohol and Percocet work together can help patients to understand why interacting these two substances are discouraged by health professionals.

What is Alcohol-Acetaminophen Syndrome?

woman showing liver pain and holding glass of red winePatients mixing Percocet and alcohol have high chances of developing the Alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome. This syndrome is a disorder which could cause severe liver damage. Alcohol is processed in the liver, and so is Percocet’s acetaminophen component also known as Tylenol. The use of each substance could damage one’s liver. Due to the dangers each substances exhibit, patients should be aware of the fatality rates in which a combination of the two substances could cause to their health. Professionals are currently unsure of how many Percocet can cause death because even an average daily dosage of Percocet could cause an overdose.
There is no reliable, consistent cure for the Alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome, although medications can reverse the process if it is detected early enough. The syndrome is difficult to diagnose but could show visible signs and effects. Most times, it is non-evident till the liver damage is irreparable.
The belief and caution about the hepatotoxicity of Alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome in people who drink alcohol regularly is shared by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Signs of the Alcohol-Acetaminophen Syndrome

The liver is responsible for breaking down both Percocet and alcohol. Studies have also proved these and linked both substances to liver damage. An article by the National Health Service (NHS) states that it is safe to take a small amount of alcohol and some painkillers (mostly over the counter prescriptions), but not prescribed painkillers like Percocet.
However, when a patient gets Alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome, it can cause signs and effects ranging from minor to severe with the possibility of fatal liver damage. These risks are higher on people with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). They include:

  • Bleeding and ulcers
  • Stomach upset
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Acute liver damage
  • Kidney damage

How Often Alcohol-Acetaminophen Syndrome Appears?

In an article posted by the NCBI, it was found that long-term users of alcohol have been discovered to have a high potential of developing the AAS. It further went on to state that high suspicion should be maintained and patients with evidence of hepatic injury should always be checked for their acetaminophen levels. They also advise that therapy should be initiated as early as possible to manage the dangers of Alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome.
According to the CDC, 115 people, a day die from an opioid overdose in the US. Another survey was done by the National Institute on alcohol abuse which they found out that 88,000 people die yearly from alcohol abuse. With this statistics, it is therefore known that the combination of Percocet and alcohol is highly discouraged. It could also lead to Alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome, is something patients don’t want to experience.

Other Side Effects of Percocet with Alcohol

Individually, alcohol and Percocet have their own risks and side effects. When these two are mixed, they could create a possibility of impacting negatively to both the patient’s nervous system and digestive system. Coupled with the fact that Percocet can make a patient sleepy, dizzy and hardly able to function well, adding alcohol to it might make the side effects more intense. This could also make patients more addicted to causing withdrawal from Percocet very difficult.
The most common side effects include:

  • Constipation Female doctor checking blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Depressed respiration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Numbness on the body
  • Heart attack
  • Colon cancer
  • Liver problems which could lead to failure
  • Coma
  • Death

When is it Safe to Drink Again?

Pill bottle in doctor handsDrinking alcohol when taking painkillers like Oxycontin or Percocet is generally unsafe and should not be done together, however, drinking could be done after some time depending on how fast Perocet leaves the system.
For an average human, it is advised to avoid alcohol for about two days (48 hours) after the initial dose. For the elderly, it is also highly recommended to stay off alcohol for at least for three days (72 hours). The reason is that as the body age and the capacity of the liver to metabolize Percocet reduces.
It is also recommended patients eat well when they want to start drinking again. After taking painkillers, the stomach mucosa is too vulnerable to be exposed to alcohol without eating. Taking alcohol in that state is as bad as interacting Percocet with Gabapentin.

Treatment for Percocet and Alcohol

In other to avoid these, support can be obtained through treatment programs. These rehab programs can help fight Percocet addictions not only with detoxification but also with the complex of physical and mental effects of drug abuse. The professionals are also experienced in helping patients who combine drugs with therapy, skills, and methods to stop the use of both Percocet and alcohol to ensure a better result.

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Published on: November 1st, 2018

Updated on: June 24th, 2020

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


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