In this article, I’m going to educate you on the subject of mixing methadone and alcohol. Taking methadone and alcohol together is not good for your health. Additionally, this combination can even have serious negative consequences, including overdose and death.
My goal with this post is to inform you on what the combination of alcohol and methadone does in your body, and why this mixture is not recommended by doctors, addiction therapists, nor me.
I too was on methadone many years ago (only for 7 days) and for me, methadone completely repelled me from alcohol. Just the thought of drinking alcohol while on methadone made me a bit nauseous.
COFFEE, on the other hand, was way more desirable while I was on methadone. The combination of methadone and coffee first thing in the morning made me feel pretty good.
Thank God for methadone!
Anyways, my point here is this:
Most beverages are fine on methadone. However, alcohol is not one of them.
Why is it a bad idea to mix methadone and alcohol?
Let’s talk about this…shall we?
Methadone and Alcohol – Methadone Overview
Methadone can totally eliminate 100% of your opiate withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This is because methadone is a powerful opioid drug.
Since methadone is an opioid, it binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body that drugs like heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and other opioids bind to. Since it completely fills the opioid receptors to the fullest impact, methadone is referred to as a full opioid agonist. Once methadone binds to these receptors, the opioid effects come on.
Common effects of methadone are the same as other opioids:
- Pain Relief
- CNS Depression
- Constricted Pupils
Methadone and Alcohol – Dangers of Mixing the Two
Methadone and alcohol may seem like a harmless combination at first thought. However, methadone is a very powerful central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Furthermore, it has a very long half-life, so it has the ability to cause respiratory depression for a long time after taking methadone.
Why is it potentially dangerous to take methadone and alcohol together?
Here is a bullet-point breakdown of the problem with this mixture:
- For starters, both methadone and alcohol are extremely powerful CNS depressants.
- Alone, both methadone and alcohol have the ability to cause significant respiratory depression. Used together, this combination results in synergy.
- Methadone/alcohol synergy is when the combined effect is greater than the sum of the effects of these two CNS depressants.
When you combine two CNS depressants, in this case, methadone and alcohol, this significantly increases the chances of respiratory depression and can ultimately lead to death from your body not breathing anymore.
Methadone and Alcohol – Importance of Hydration
Obviously, if you have a tolerance to methadone and you only drink a beer, glass of wine, or a shot of liquor, you’re probably not at risk of dying. However, alcohol is extremely dehydrating, and it depletes your body of B-vitamins and many other essential nutrients as well.
When you’re taking methadone, you want to do everything in your power to stay healthy and decrease the possibility of side effects and/or bad and potentially dangerous interactions. And along with avoiding all of the methadone contraindications (such as alcohol), you also want to focus on eating and drinking healthy foods and beverages.
In fact, if you’re not already drinking at least 4-5 liters of water a day, that’s your first step to getting healthier right there.
Staying hydrated is absolutely essential for physical and psychological health.
When I was a counselor at a methadone clinic, I had some patients that would drink alcohol on methadone and they would get so dehydrated and nauseous. I also had one patient that was a severe alcoholic and the nurses at the dosing window would have to give him a breathalyzer before they gave him his methadone dose.
They did this because sometimes he came in reeking of alcohol and he would blow on the breathalyzer and come up positive for alcohol.
When that happened, he didn’t get his methadone for that day.
Drinking alcohol on methadone is not only unhealthy, but it can be very, very dangerous.
Methadone and Alcohol – Key Concepts
Now that you’ve been educated on the potential negative health consequences of mixing methadone and alcohol, I hope you’ll stay away from alcohol while you’re on this medication.
You only have one body, so treat it well.
The following key concepts will help you stay healthy on methadone:
- Avoid the combination of methadone and alcohol.
- Avoid all other CNS depressants while taking methadone.
- Drink at least 4-5 liters of water a day or more.
- If you drink soda, cut that out too or at least limit it to no more than 1-2 sodas a week.
- Focus on eating primarily organic whole foods, and eliminate or limit processed and refined foods.
- Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep or more per night on a regular basis.
- Exercise at least 3-4 days a week or more, using a combination of cardio, strength-training, and stretching.
As a former substance abuse counselor at an Opiate Treatment Program (OTP) and a current Opiate Recovery Coach, I’ve always been outspoken about the potential dangers of mixing methadone or other opioids with other CNS depressants.
The synergy is real, and thus it’s really not worth the risk.
If you have any comments or questions about the topic of mixing methadone and alcohol, please post them in the comment box below. Be safe, and take care of yourself.
The comment I just made I don’t want my last name posted a Nd my email was incorrect. In this post it is correct. Please post my comment about mixing the two.
I have been drinking alcohol for 30 years, I’m a alcoholic. I’ve been taking methadone for ten years, just now my doctor decided to taper me off methadone in 21 days. I take 100 milligrams a day. I drink a pint of vodka everyday. I never felt any risk or any respitory problems. I feel out of danger of mixing the two because of the long term of taken the two. Now I have to do the unbearable of withdrawal. I don’t think by body can handle it, I’m 52 with blood pressure problems. I no someone that doesn’t drink and does mix the two there’s a risk. But I seriously doubt that it would happen to me. I’m in serious trouble now, thoughts?
Hi Matt . I’ve been on methadone for quite awhile now and I have always been an alcoholic as well. I’ve slowed down significantly but not quite enough to feel safe stopping. I have no way to get into any kind of detox. No money and just medi-cal insurance which medical detox’s do not accept. My question is what can I do? I’m trying to stop drinking and then get off the methadone. I’ve done this before but that was at a really expensive treatment center . I’ve started weening off the booze and I’m down to a few cocktails a day from over a fifth a day . Should I switch to beer for a couple days and then just stop or will I need Valium ?
I am so worried. My boyfriend and father of my kids has been on methodone for years and is now drinking regularly. He is slowly decreasing his dosage of methodone but it seems like every time he has tried this, something bad happens (ie, relapse when he was down to 5 mg)