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Alcohol and Medications

Can You Drink on Percocet?

Published:
April 2, 2024
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10 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
April 2, 2024
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
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The Facts About Drinking While Taking Percocet

  • Percocet is a commonly prescribed opioid pain reliever. When combined with alcohol, it can produce some serious side effects and possibly cause liver damage.
  • Alcohol and Percocet are both highly addictive. To stay safe, it’s necessary to practice moderation or, even better, discontinue alcohol use while taking Percocet.
  • Reframe offers tools to help you examine your drinking habits and develop strategies to meet your health goals by quitting or cutting back on alcohol.

You recently had a medical procedure, and you were prescribed Percocet for pain management. You’ve been feeling better, and you’ve decided you’re well enough to attend the party you were invited to this weekend. But you’re still taking your Percocet: is it safe to have a few drinks? Let’s explore the science behind how this pain reliever works and what happens when alcohol enters the picture.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a commonly prescribed medication used for managing moderate to severe pain. It contains a combination of oxycodone (an opioid pain reliever) and acetaminophen (known as Tylenol). 

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid and is the primary pain-relieving ingredient in Percocet. Opioids block pain receptors
in the brain so pain signals have a harder time getting through. Acetaminophen is a common, nonopioid, over-the-counter pain reliever, and it’s not nearly as strong as oxycodone. It does, however, enhance and complement oxycodone.

Like all opioid-containing narcotic medications, Percocet is only available with a prescription. It is typically used in the short term to treat cancer-related and post-surgical pain. Percocet is also used sometimes to treat long-term, chronic pain conditions.

Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Percocet can be effective in relieving pain, but like many medications there are interactions to be aware of. As with any medication, it’s always important to read the warning labels and discuss any questions with our pharmacist or healthcare provider before we start taking it.

When we read the label on our Percocet bottle, we may notice a big warning saying not to take it with alcohol. But how serious is this warning? Here are a few side effects of mixing Percocet and alcohol.

  • Central nervous system depression. Both Percocet and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, meaning that combining them can lead to intensified sedation, drowsiness, and even respiratory distress when taken in high doses.
  • Liver toxicity. Both Percocet and alcohol can be harmful to the liver. Acetaminophen, one of the main ingredients, is notoriously hard on the liver, especially when combined with alcohol. When taken in high doses, both alcohol and acetaminophen increase our risk of liver damage; when mixed together, they only amplify this danger to our liver.
  • Impaired judgment and coordination. Mixing Percocet and alcohol can impair our cognitive function, coordination, and decision-making abilities, which in turn may increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and falls. Drinking alcohol is risky enough, but when we add another chemical substance to the mix, we’re setting ourselves up for even more danger. Think about it like this: Just like driving under the influence of alcohol is unsafe on its own, think how much more risky it would be to add another chemical to the equation. Scary!
  • Risk of long-term dependency. We touched on this earlier, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers of long-term use of Percocet and alcohol together. Long-term use of any drug combined with alcohol can be dangerous and set us up for an even higher risk of dependency. Anyone concerned about dependency on alcohol or other medications or who knows someone struggling, seek professional help or contact the local help hotline.
Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Tips for Staying Safe While Taking Medications

It must be said again: always educate yourself on the potential risks associated with any medication you’re taking by speaking with your doctor and pharmacist. Here are some top tips for staying safe while taking medications like Percocet.

  • Abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of medications and multiply the risks. It’s best to stick to the Percocet alone and use this time to reset your relationship with alcohol by staying sober.
  • Read the warning labels. Educate yourself about the medication you’re taking and carefully read the instructions for use. Consult your pharmacist with any questions about side effects or potential dangers before you start taking medication.
  • Take care of yourself. It may sound obvious, but when you’re sick or injured, the best way to stay safe is to take care of yourself. Your immune system is already weakened, so the best path toward a speedy recovery is self-care. Get plenty of rest, drink water, and eat nutritious foods. Experience the many benefits of taking a break from alcohol while you’re sick or recovering from illness or injury.

The Bottom Line

Although we’ve provided a background and some helpful advice, this article is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications out there. Research shows that more than 100 drugs interact with wine, beer, and hard liquor, which can trigger problems ranging from nausea and headaches to life-threatening issues. As we stated above, mixing alcohol with medications is always risky, but it’s particularly harmful in the case of Percocet. Stay educated, stay empowered, and stay safe!

You recently had a medical procedure, and you were prescribed Percocet for pain management. You’ve been feeling better, and you’ve decided you’re well enough to attend the party you were invited to this weekend. But you’re still taking your Percocet: is it safe to have a few drinks? Let’s explore the science behind how this pain reliever works and what happens when alcohol enters the picture.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a commonly prescribed medication used for managing moderate to severe pain. It contains a combination of oxycodone (an opioid pain reliever) and acetaminophen (known as Tylenol). 

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid and is the primary pain-relieving ingredient in Percocet. Opioids block pain receptors
in the brain so pain signals have a harder time getting through. Acetaminophen is a common, nonopioid, over-the-counter pain reliever, and it’s not nearly as strong as oxycodone. It does, however, enhance and complement oxycodone.

Like all opioid-containing narcotic medications, Percocet is only available with a prescription. It is typically used in the short term to treat cancer-related and post-surgical pain. Percocet is also used sometimes to treat long-term, chronic pain conditions.

Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Percocet can be effective in relieving pain, but like many medications there are interactions to be aware of. As with any medication, it’s always important to read the warning labels and discuss any questions with our pharmacist or healthcare provider before we start taking it.

When we read the label on our Percocet bottle, we may notice a big warning saying not to take it with alcohol. But how serious is this warning? Here are a few side effects of mixing Percocet and alcohol.

  • Central nervous system depression. Both Percocet and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, meaning that combining them can lead to intensified sedation, drowsiness, and even respiratory distress when taken in high doses.
  • Liver toxicity. Both Percocet and alcohol can be harmful to the liver. Acetaminophen, one of the main ingredients, is notoriously hard on the liver, especially when combined with alcohol. When taken in high doses, both alcohol and acetaminophen increase our risk of liver damage; when mixed together, they only amplify this danger to our liver.
  • Impaired judgment and coordination. Mixing Percocet and alcohol can impair our cognitive function, coordination, and decision-making abilities, which in turn may increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and falls. Drinking alcohol is risky enough, but when we add another chemical substance to the mix, we’re setting ourselves up for even more danger. Think about it like this: Just like driving under the influence of alcohol is unsafe on its own, think how much more risky it would be to add another chemical to the equation. Scary!
  • Risk of long-term dependency. We touched on this earlier, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers of long-term use of Percocet and alcohol together. Long-term use of any drug combined with alcohol can be dangerous and set us up for an even higher risk of dependency. Anyone concerned about dependency on alcohol or other medications or who knows someone struggling, seek professional help or contact the local help hotline.
Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Tips for Staying Safe While Taking Medications

It must be said again: always educate yourself on the potential risks associated with any medication you’re taking by speaking with your doctor and pharmacist. Here are some top tips for staying safe while taking medications like Percocet.

  • Abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of medications and multiply the risks. It’s best to stick to the Percocet alone and use this time to reset your relationship with alcohol by staying sober.
  • Read the warning labels. Educate yourself about the medication you’re taking and carefully read the instructions for use. Consult your pharmacist with any questions about side effects or potential dangers before you start taking medication.
  • Take care of yourself. It may sound obvious, but when you’re sick or injured, the best way to stay safe is to take care of yourself. Your immune system is already weakened, so the best path toward a speedy recovery is self-care. Get plenty of rest, drink water, and eat nutritious foods. Experience the many benefits of taking a break from alcohol while you’re sick or recovering from illness or injury.

The Bottom Line

Although we’ve provided a background and some helpful advice, this article is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications out there. Research shows that more than 100 drugs interact with wine, beer, and hard liquor, which can trigger problems ranging from nausea and headaches to life-threatening issues. As we stated above, mixing alcohol with medications is always risky, but it’s particularly harmful in the case of Percocet. Stay educated, stay empowered, and stay safe!

Summary FAQs

1. What is Percocet made of?

Percocet is a commonly prescribed medication for managing moderate to severe pain. It contains a combination of oxycodone — potent opioid pain reliever — and acetaminophen, a nonopioid pain reliever commonly found in over-the-counter pain relief products.

2. Can you drink on Percocet?

It’s best not to. Combining Percocet and alcohol is particularly risky because they both slow down respiratory rate (breathing) by different mechanisms. They also compete for attention in the liver, leading to slower elimination and significantly more stress on the liver. Moderate intake of alcohol and Percocet is not fatal, but any amount is going to stress the liver. It’s not something to do habitually or in high doses.

3. What are the risks of combining alcohol with Percocet?

Potential risk factors of drinking alcohol while taking Percocet include liver damage, drowsiness, impaired cognitive function and motor skills, and long-term dependency.

4. Could I die from mixing Percocet with alcohol?

It’s always advised to read the warning labels before taking a medication or combining any medication with alcohol. Long-term abuse of Percocet and/or alcohol may cause serious liver damage or other dangerous health conditions, but it is not necessarily fatal in small doses. Always check with your doctor, especially if you have a history of liver disease — and always be honest with your doctor about your substance use!

Make Safer Drinking Choices With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

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