Percocet and Alcohol
Percocet is an opioid painkilling medication that contains two drugs, oxycodone—an opioid—and acetaminophen—an analgesic more commonly known in the U.S. as Tylenol.1 It is typically prescribed for moderate to severe acute pain where treatments with non-opioid analgesics aren’t sufficient, such as surgery.1
Alcohol is the most widely available and used intoxicating substance in the U.S. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about half of the people aged 12 or older (51.1%) drank alcohol in the past month.2 Drinking is so pervasive and socially acceptable that many may not think twice about mixing prescription drugs and alcohol.
Alcohol and Oxycodone are Synergistic
Despite clear warnings on the drug label, some people may mix Percocet along with alcohol. Perhaps they can’t imagine the dangers inherent in the combination, however, mixing alcohol and an opioid like Percocet can lead to adverse outcomes up to and including overdose and death.1
Drinking while taking Percocet increases the risk of over-sedation, which can lead to a decline in coordination and resultant injury; blackout, loss of consciousness, and memory loss; as well as profound respiratory depression.1,3
Risk of Liver Damage
There are additional risks due to the acetaminophen in Percocet. Acetaminophen is a non-opioid analgesic (i.e., pain reliever) and is commonly known by the brand name Tylenol. When taken in large enough doses and/or too frequently, acetaminophen can become toxic to the liver.4 Chronic heavy alcohol use can lower the threshold for sustaining injury to your liver tissue, making acetaminophen toxicity increasingly likely.4
Polydrug Abuse Can Be Deadly
Combining medications and alcohol can be risky to a person’s health. Knowing how alcohol and Percocet act together and the potential risks is important, especially since combination overdoses can be deadly. Alcohol is involved in about 15% of opioid-related overdoses and the mortality rate for opioid overdoses involving alcohol has increased by about 5.5 times from 1999 to 2017.5 If you’re concerned that you or someone nearby is experiencing an overdose, call 9-1-1 immediately to get them emergency medical attention.
MORE ON MIXING WITH ALCOHOL:
- Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Drug Label: Percocet.
- Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2020). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.
- Medline Plus. (2019). Oxycodone.
- Opioids. (2020). In LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
- Tori, M. E., Larochelle, M. R., & Naimi, T. S. (2020). Alcohol or Benzodiazepine Co-involvement With Opioid Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017. JAMA Network Open, 3(4), e202361.