Published date: 5/06/2019
Our bodies react differently to different drugs, so when opioids and other medications are combined, it can be unpredictable and dangerous. It’s important to be aware that mixing opioids with other prescribed medication, over-the-counter medicines, illicit drugs or alcohol can lead to serious risks.¹
Combining your prescription opioids with other medication and alcohol can cause unwanted side effects, reduce the effectiveness of one or more of the medicines² or potentially increase your chance of overdose.³ Similar risks apply when you combine your prescription opioids with illegal drugs and substances.
Many people don’t think of alcohol as a drug, but it is, and it’s an important one to keep in mind. Combining opioids with alcohol can cause your breathing to slow down, and your heart rate to decrease dangerously, increasing your chance of accidental overdose.⁴
When you take any medications, it’s important to be informed; know the risks and possible side effects as well as the benefits.
Steps you can take to avoid harmful medicine combinations:
- Follow the directions on medicine labels including the warnings to avoid alcohol. If you’re not sure, ask a health professional for advice.
- Talk to your healthcare professional about all of the medicines you are taking, including other prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.
- Do not take someone else’s prescribed medication.
- Check the consumer medicine information (CMI) for information on your medication. Labelling may change as new findings come about, so it’s important to review it frequently.⁵ Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, or check online here.
- The free MedicineWise smartphone app is an effective tool to manage multiple medicines. It enables you to keep your up-to-date medicines list handy, set multiple reminders and alerts, and record key information.
If you have any questions or concerns about your opioid medication, including how they could be interacting with other medicines or alcohol, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.