February 6, 2009, Newsletter Issue #221: Painkillers and Alcohol

Tip of the Week

Painkillers can be addictive on their own, but addiction is often associated with the simultaneous use of the drugs with alcohol.

The makers of OxyContin, Vicodin, and other painkillers warn patients not to consume alcohol while taking the drug, and the vast majority of patients do. Those who ignore the advice, knowingly or unknowingly, risk physical collapse and death. Even before such symptoms set in, the combination can cause unpredictable behavior and disturbing symptoms such as vomiting.

Some people begin drinking alcohol while taking painkillers as a way to deal with increased pain. If you are taking painkillers and feel like you "need" a beer or a glass of wine, stop and call your doctor to see if your medication needs to be changed.

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