Substance abuse experts indicate that it is never safe to mix alcohol and Lortab. Although Lortab is a relatively harmless pain reliever when used appropriately, and alcohol is safe in moderation, the combined effects of mixing Lortab and alcohol can lead to severe consequences and the need for immediate, emergency medical treatment.
Alcohol is not considered a dangerous substance when consumed on its own, in moderation. However, it can lead to dangerous physical and cognitive problems when an individual consumes an unhealthy amount in a short period of time. Long-term abusive consumption of alcohol can also cause serious physical damage, especially to the nervous system and an individual’s liver function.
Lortab contains the opioid narcotic painkiller hydrocodone, and acetaminophen, a pain reliever, to produce its desired results. This combination of medications is found in other drugs that are known by different brand names including:
Lortab is generally prescribed to treat severe pain. Used inappropriately for long periods of time, Lortab may become habit-forming, which is why it is only available with a prescription. Even when initially taken as prescribed, use can lead to addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Concurrent Abuse
Alcohol and Lortab abuse each present with their own their own individual effects and symptoms. However, some of these symptoms appear to be very similar to each other.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
- Impaired coordination.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Memory problems.
- Physical weakness.
Signs and Symptoms of Lortab Abuse
- Mood swings.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Itching sensation all over the body.
Combined Effects of Abuse
The combined effects of mixing Lortab and alcohol can lead to severe consequences and the need for immediate, emergency medical treatment.
Since both drugs work as central nervous system (CNS) depressants, their combined use can intensify and exacerbate symptoms of intoxication, causing a person to experience side effects of both substances more quickly and severely. It may also keep an individual from recognizing that he or she has consumed a dangerous amount of either substance or seeking necessary rehabilitation or help, because the effects can arise quickly and suddenly, leading to a rapid overdose.
Depressant substances lead to dangerous side effects related to the body slowing down such as slower heart rate and shallow breathing. These situations can create a medical emergency for an individual who consumed both substances.
Concurrent alcohol and Lortab problems can also lead to a greater likelihood of physical injury when an individual is intoxicated. Loss of coordination, lack of concentration and confusion can all result from mixing the two drugs. This may increase an individual’s likelihood of getting into an accident or a physical altercation.
Both alcohol and Lortab abuse can cause liver damage. Alcohol is notorious for causing liver disease, while Lortab is dangerous because of the acetaminophen in the drug, which causes harm to the liver when taken in excess. Doubling up on these substances only heightens this risk.
Treatment for Co-occurring Addiction
People that are addicted to or dependent on alcohol and Lortab should seek professional treatment for their substance use. The first step will likely be a period of detoxification where the body is allowed to process the substances out of its system. Completing this under medical supervision will increase the levels of comfort and safety for the patient. Medically supervised detox is essential for someone with alcohol dependence, because the withdrawal syndrome from this substance can induce dangerous and even life-threatening symptoms.
Following detox, treatment for co-occurring abuse may involve proper rehabilitation. This treatment could take place in an inpatient, residential rehabilitation, where individuals live together and focus on getting well, treating triggers of use, and maintaining sobriety.
Alternatively, an individual can begin the recovery process on an outpatient basis with:
Often, individuals who are new to sobriety will be paired with another group member who has been in recovery for several months or years. This mentor can help a newly sober individual learn to live without alcohol and Lortab and talk through difficult situations that otherwise could lead to a relapse.
Statistics for Alcohol and Lortab
The growing non-medical, non-prescription use of opiates such as Lortab has become a major public health concern. Opiate-based drugs like Lortab have been responsible for a growing number of emergency room visits, accounting for 6.6% of medical emergencies involving non-medical use pf prescription drugs in 2011 (SAMHSA, 2011). The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that as many as 4.3 million people used prescription pain medications such as Lortab for non-medical purposes in the month before taking the survey.
Alcohol addiction is also an incredibly prevalent public health concern. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 88,000 individuals in the United States die each year due to excessive alcohol use, making it the third leading preventable cause of death (CDC, 2015).
The combination of alcohol and hydrocodone-based pain killers like Lortab accounted for nearly 26,000, or 4.2%, of all emergency department visits involving alcohol consumption in 2011 (SAMHSA, 2011).
Teen Drinking and Lortab Abuse
Substance abuse can permanently alter a teen’s neurological development and continues to be implicated in thousands of emergency room visits each year (1). It is vital that a substance abusing teen gets help as soon as possible in order to prevent lasting damage to their brain.
Underage drinking is common, with about 20% of high school students reporting alcohol use during the month before the survey (NSDUH, 2014). Underage drinkers who are unfamiliar with moderating their consumption may have more difficulty regulating their drinking. This can lead to more serious consequences for a still-developing brain, since neurological development continues into the mid-20s and substance abuse can permanently affect this development.
Drug addiction or abuse is equally as damaging if not more damaging to adolescent brains because it permanently alters neurological development. In 2014, 1.9% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 reported current nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers, though fortunately this number has steadily decreased since 2002 (NSDUH, 2014).
Lortab is a substance that must be regulated by a medical professional, to keep individuals from accidentally overdosing or becoming dependent. Recreational lortab use can lead to serious consequences. Its long-term effects on a developing brain may lead to neurological dysfunction later in life.
Resources, Articles and More Information
If you want assistance with a Lortab or alcohol addiction, please call 1-888-744-0069 . Resources are available to you, and trained professionals are willing to help you transition into sober living and recovery. For more articles, info and statistics, please visit http://www.niaaa.nih.gov.
For more information on alcohol and opiate abuse, see:
- The Need-to-Knows Surrounding Alcohol Abuse
- Overview on Lortab Abuse
- Opiate/Opioid Abuse
- Statistics and History of Hydrocodone Use/Abuse
Join the conversation and find support today at our Forum.
- National Survey of Drug Use and Health. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2015, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/national-survey-drug-use-health
- Hydrocodone. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2015, from http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4760, DAWN Series D-39. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013. Available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/DAWN2k11ED/DAWN2k11ED/DAWN2k11ED.pdf
- Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50). Available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Fact Sheets- Alcohol Use and Your Health. (2015). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm