Alcohol and Morphine:Unveiling the Effects & Risks
Table of Contents
The use of alcohol and morphine, separately or combined, can lead to substantial health problems. As depressants, they can cause immediate effects such as extreme drowsiness, uncoordinated movements, and delayed reactions. The consumption of both substances in high amounts can escalate to life-threatening conditions like coma or death.
This article will explore the following:
- The signs and effects of mixed alcohol and morphine abuse
- The dangers and risks of mixing morphine with alcohol
- Statistical data on alcohol and morphine use
- The physical risks of combining alcohol and hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine
- Teenage drinking and morphine abuse
- Recovery – a viable and achievable alternative to addiction
- The treatment options available for individuals grappling with co-occurring alcohol and morphine addiction
- Frequently asked questions about morphine and alcohol abuse.
Signs of Mixed Alcohol and Morphine Abuse
The dangerous effects of combining alcohol and morphine are manifold. Both substances are depressants, which can significantly slow down body functions. Let’s look at the short and long-term effects of mixing these substances.
The Short-Term Health Effects of Alcohol and Morphine Abuse
The combination of alcohol and morphine can induce extreme drowsiness, lack of coordination, motor skill impairment, and delayed responsiveness. An overdose can trigger severe symptoms such as seizures, confusion, slowed heartbeat, weakness, or even cold and damp skin. Combining these substances disrupts how the brain receives and interprets information, increasing the likelihood of accidental overdose.
The signs of abuse include:
- Shallow breathing
- Cardiac arrest
- Loss of consciousness
- Circulatory system collapse
- Impaired coordination.
If someone is experiencing these symptoms, it is essential to seek immediate medical help.
Download our Brochure
The Long-Term Health Effects of Alcohol and Morphine Abuse
The long-term health effects of alcohol and morphine misuse are severe and can affect multiple organs and systems in the body.
For the brain, chronic alcohol and morphine use can lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss, and changes in mood and behaviour. Misusing these substances can disrupt the brain’s normal functioning, affecting areas responsible for memory, learning, decision-making, and impulse control.
The heart can also be significantly affected by long-term alcohol and morphine misuse. Both substances can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Liver damage is another major health effect of chronic alcohol misuse. Alcohol can cause a range of liver problems, including alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Regular morphine use, meanwhile, can also cause liver damage due to the body’s process of metabolising the drug.
Moreover, alcohol and morphine misuse can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and diseases. They can also disrupt the gastrointestinal system, leading to issues such as constipation, nausea, vomiting, and malnutrition.
Dangers of Mixing Morphine with Alcohol
The dangers of combining morphine and alcohol are alarming. One of these risks is serotonin toxicity, a condition where there is an excess of serotonin in the brain. This can lead to muscle spasms, overactive reflexes, fever, and restlessness. When combined, morphine and alcohol increase the risk of serotonin toxicity.
Another risk is opioid-induced glial activation, a condition where opioids like morphine cause glial cells in the brain to become overactive. When these cells are overactive, they can make the effects of opioids stronger, leading to an increased tolerance to opioids, a stronger dependence on opioids, and a higher risk of respiratory depression.
Lastly, morphine and alcohol can affect the brain’s reward system, leading to addiction. Mixing these substances increases the risk of addiction. This combination of substances can make a small problem a significant health issue, much like gasoline on a fire.
Risks of Mixing Morphine with Alcohol
Combining alcohol and opioids can lead to serious effects such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate and rhythm
- Cardiovascular instability
- Dizziness or loss of coordination
- Abnormal behaviour
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory arrest; coma.
This type of overdose has been on the rise due to an increase in opioid drug addictions. Even if a person takes a painkiller as prescribed and drinks a small amount of alcohol, the drugs can enhance each other’s effects, making dangerous intoxication and overdose all the more likely.
It’s important to note that it is not encouraged to drink any amount of alcohol while taking narcotic painkillers. If you mix the two, you should follow your physician’s advice and practice safe and responsible alcohol use.
Over 40 Years of Experience Treating Addiction
Statistics for Alcohol and Morphine Use
The misuse of alcohol and morphine is a significant public health concern in the United Kingdom. According to the National Health Service (NHS) England, there were 358,000 hospital admissions in 2018/19, primarily due to alcohol consumption. This figure was 6% higher than the previous year and 19% higher than in 2008/09.
Meanwhile, the misuse of morphine, an opioid medication, is also a significant issue. The broader category of opioid misuse, which includes morphine, is a substantial concern. The abuse of opioids has been linked to a considerable number of deaths. The Office for National Statistics reports a pattern of increasing deaths where an opioid pain medicine (OPM) is present on the death certificate. In the latest data set, deaths related to tramadol, an OPM, have risen to 240 per annum.
Furthermore, the Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed that about 5.4% of adults aged 16 to 59 years had misused a prescription-only painkiller not prescribed to them. The misuse of painkillers was found to be more common among younger individuals. The survey also highlighted that the abuse of prescription painkillers did not vary significantly by frequency of alcohol consumption, suggesting that alcohol misuse and painkiller misuse can coexist in the same individuals.
The National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), a national database that collects data from substance use disorder treatment services, has also provided valuable insights. NDTMS data shows a significant number of patients presenting to drug treatment services with misuse of prescription opioids, including morphine. There is an increasing trend of individuals using prescription opioids as their sole drug of dependency, representing a growing proportion of presentations to drug dependency and recovery services.
It’s important to note that these statistics represent only the tip of the iceberg. Many cases of alcohol and morphine misuse likely go unreported, and the true scale of the problem is likely much larger. These statistics underscore the importance of prevention efforts, including education about the risks of alcohol and morphine misuse, as well as treatment and recovery services for those struggling with addiction.
The Physical Risks of Combining Alcohol and Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, or Morphine
The physical risks of combining alcohol with hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine are severe and potentially life-threatening. These substances, all classified as opioids, have similar effects on the body as alcohol, primarily acting as central nervous system depressants. This means they slow down brain function and reduce the rate of breathing. When combined with alcohol, the effects are amplified, leading to a higher risk of overdose and death.
The most immediate risk of combining alcohol with these opioids is respiratory depression, where breathing becomes shallow or even stops. This can lead to a lack of oxygen to the brain, causing permanent brain damage or death. Other risks include extreme drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and an increased likelihood of accidents due to impaired motor skills and judgment. Long-term use can lead to liver damage, addiction, and a host of other health problems. Understanding these risks is crucial and avoiding combining alcohol with hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine.
Teen Drinking and Morphine Abuse
The abuse of alcohol and morphine among teenagers is a serious public health concern. Both substances can severely affect the developing adolescent brain, leading to long-term cognitive and behavioural issues. For instance, morphine abuse can lead to changes in brain structure and function, including alterations in areas responsible for decision-making, impulse control, and reward processing. These changes can contribute to developing substance use disorders and other mental health problems later in life.
Alcohol consumption during adolescence can also have serious consequences. It can disrupt normal brain development, leading to cognitive deficits and an increased risk of alcohol use disorder in adulthood. Furthermore, alcohol can exacerbate the effects of morphine, increasing the risk of overdose and other harmful outcomes.
The combination of alcohol and morphine can also increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours, such as unsafe sex or driving under the influence, which can have serious consequences.
Moreover, the co-use of alcohol and morphine can have a synergistic effect on the reward system in the brain, making the combined use of these substances more pleasurable and reinforcing than the use of either substance alone. This can lead to a cycle of escalating use and addiction, with serious implications for physical health, mental well-being, and academic performance.
Choose Recovery Over Addiction
Choosing recovery over addiction is a powerful and life-changing decision. It’s a commitment to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling future. While the journey may be challenging, it’s important to remember that recovery is not only possible but achievable for everyone. It requires courage, determination, and a willingness to seek help, but the rewards are immeasurable. A life free from the constraints of addiction allows for renewed relationships, improved health, and the opportunity to pursue dreams and goals that may have been sidelined due to substance misuse.
Professional support plays a crucial role in the recovery process. Trained professionals can provide the necessary tools and resources to navigate the path to recovery effectively. They offer a range of services, including therapy, counselling, and medication management, all tailored to the individual’s unique needs. Such services are designed to address not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the psychological and emotional factors that often accompany it. With their help, individuals can learn to manage cravings, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and build a supportive network to sustain their recovery.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Alcohol and Morphine Addiction
Recovery from alcohol and morphine abuse is a challenging but entirely achievable endeavour. The recovery process generally involves detoxification, therapy, medication, and aftercare.
During detoxification, the individual stops using the substances, and the body starts to purge the drugs from the system. This step can lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe, particularly for individuals who have been using alcohol and morphine for a long time. Medical supervision is often necessary during this phase to manage the symptoms and ensure the safety of the individual.
Therapy, which often follows detoxification, is crucial for understanding the root causes of substance misuse and learning new coping strategies. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common approach, helping individuals to change harmful thought patterns that lead to substance misuse. Group therapy can also be beneficial, providing a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences and learn from others.
Medications can help manage withdrawal symptoms, decrease cravings, and treat co-occurring mental health conditions that often accompany substance misuse. One piece of research suggested that a drug called disulfiram, which affects norepinephrine could be helpful in treating addiction. In simple terms, this means that understanding how different chemicals in our bodies contribute to addiction could help us find better treatments.
Aftercare, the final step in the recovery process, involves ongoing support to prevent relapse. It can include continuing therapy, attending support group meetings, and having regular check-ups with healthcare providers.
Get Help for Alcohol and Morphine Addiction
Recovering from morphine and alcohol addiction is a significant challenge that demands dedication, support, and expert intervention. Overcoming this dependency is challenging, but it is possible with the proper treatment and support. An effective recovery programme usually comprises medical detoxification, therapy to address the root psychological issues, and sustained aftercare for maintaining sobriety. The Smarmore Clinic in Ireland exemplifies such a comprehensive approach to addiction recovery.
The Smarmore Clinic, a specialist family-run rehab, provides a clinically proven treatment programme to help individuals overcome alcoholism, drug addiction, and behavioural addictions. This multidisciplinary programme incorporates a variety of therapies, including medical detox, cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma-informed therapy, and group therapy, all designed to address the root causes of addiction, such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. The clinic also offers complementary therapies like equine therapy and drumming alongside fitness facilities, promoting physical well-being alongside mental health recovery.
Post-treatment, Smarmore provides an aftercare programme to reduce the risk of relapse and support patients as they reintegrate into daily life. This includes an individualised one-year continuing care plan, free group therapy sessions, and one-to-one teletherapy for those unable to attend in-person sessions. Private individual therapy sessions are available through their specialist addiction outpatient centre, CATCH Recovery.
Smarmore provides specific groups for those who have relapsed and for former patients accompanied by a family member. They also facilitate connections to local support groups, ensuring their clients have a comprehensive support network as they navigate their journey to recovery.
- Gillman, P.K., 2005. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, opioid analgesics and serotonin toxicity. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 95(4), pp.434–441. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/bja/aei210 [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- Watkins, L.R., Hutchinson, M.R., Rice, K.C. and Maier, S.F., 2009. The “Toll” of Opioid-Induced Glial Activation: Improving the Clinical Efficacy of Opioids by Targeting Glia. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 30(11), pp.581–591. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tips.2009.08.002 [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- NHS Digital, 2020. Statistics on Alcohol, England 2020. Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-alcohol/2020 [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- Weinshenker, D. and Schroeder, J.P., 2007. There and Back Again: A Tale of Norepinephrine and Drug Addiction.
- Berke, J.D. and Hyman, S.E., 2000. Addiction, Dopamine, and the Molecular Mechanisms of Memory.
- CDC, 2023. Prescription Opioids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/prescribed.html [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- NIDA, 2023. Misuse of Prescription Drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-are-risks-associated-misuse-prescription-drugs [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- Jones, J.D., Mogali, S. and Comer, S.D., 2012. Polydrug abuse: a review of opioid and benzodiazepine combination use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 125(1-2), pp.8–18. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.07.004 [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- 2012. Concurrent Use of Alcohol and Sedatives among Persons Prescribed Chronic Opioid Therapy: Prevalence and Risk Factors. Available at: https://europepmc.org/articles/pmc3294025?pdf=render [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- 2023. The Case for Screening and Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/co-occurring-disorders [Accessed 28 May 2023].
- Wise, R.A., 2002. Brain Reward Circuitry. Neuron, 36(2), pp.229–240.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Met Morphine?
Drinking alcohol while taking morphine is strongly discouraged. Alcohol and morphine have depressant effects on the central nervous system, which slow down brain function and impede neural activity. When combined, they can intensify each other’s effects, leading to potentially dangerous outcomes such as severe drowsiness, respiratory depression, coma, or even death. If you’re taking morphine, it’s crucial to avoid consuming alcohol to maintain your safety.
Why Should Morphine Not Be Combined With Alcohol Because of the Increased Risk?
Combining morphine with alcohol can significantly increase the risk of harmful effects. Both substances are central nervous system depressants, which can slow breathing and potentially lead to respiratory failure. Additionally, they can cause drowsiness and dizziness, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries. The combination can also exacerbate the sedative effects of both substances, leading to unconsciousness, overdose, or even death. Therefore, it’s essential to avoid alcohol when taking morphine.
Can You Take Pain Medicine With Alcohol?
It is generally unsafe to mix pain medication with alcohol. Many pain medications, including opioids and non-prescription drugs like ibuprofen, can interact negatively with alcohol. Depending on the specific medicines, this combination can lead to a range of dangerous outcomes, from stomach bleeding and liver damage to respiratory distress. Always consult with a healthcare professional before consuming alcohol if you’re taking any pain medication.
What Medication Can You Not Drink Alcohol With?
Many medications should not be mixed with alcohol due to the risk of dangerous interactions. These include but are not limited to certain antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, pain relievers, sleeping pills, and muscle relaxants. Alcohol can interfere with these medications, either reducing their effectiveness or increasing the risk of harmful side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, and liver damage. Always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist about potential interactions between your medication and alcohol.
- How to Access Rehab With Health Insurance
For those experiencing existing mental health conditions in Ireland, there are private medical insurers who can help you cover treatment. As addiction experts, we know that receiving the appropriate care and support when you have a mental health disorder is pivotal to attaining long-lasting recovery. Below, we will go through the various health insurance options to help you understand your options when it comes to seeking private residential care for substance abuse. Please note that there is no guarantee that you can be covered for all addiction problems as policies are always assessed on a case-by-case basis. Find Out More
- My Loved One Doesn’t Want Help, What Do I Do?
You can’t force someone to go to rehab. At the end of the day, it needs to be their decision because they are the ones that need to be open to turning their lives around. There are ways in which you can encourage someone to enter treatment, one of these ways is via an intervention with a trained interventionist, who facilitates an honest discussion between family members and the addict. This is something Smarmore Castle can arrange – contact us today.
- Which Drugs Does Smarmore Castle Detox From?
- How Long Is the Treatment Programme?
Our treatment programme starts at 4 weeks and is flexible in length, giving you the opportunity to extend for a longer period if you need it.
- Do You Treat Dual Diagnosis?
All patients are reviewed by a consultant psychiatrist in the first week and we can diagnose and provide treatment for a number of co-occurring mental health conditions.
- Do I Need to Be Abstinent Before Admission?
Our medically managed detoxification with 24/7 medical cover means that we can perform complete and complex detoxes at Smarmore Castle. You don’t need to be abstinent before arrival.
- How Do I Get To Rehab Safely?
Smarmore Castle is one hour north of Dublin international airport and we can arrange a driver to collect you and bring you straight to us for free.
We can also arrange a ‘sober transport’ service with a trusted driver, from anywhere in Ireland or Northern Ireland, at an additional cost.