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Does Alcohol Help Opiate Withdrawal?

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Last updated: 09/17/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 2 minutes

No, alcohol does not help opiate withdrawal. Although on the surface it might seem to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal, it can be a very dangerous choice for treating opiate withdrawal. Some circles say that being drunk is a way to stop feeling the symptoms of opiate withdrawal but it also opens up a whole new set of problems. There are several reasons why you should not use alcohol to treat opiate withdrawal and several alternatives to try instead.

Reasons Not to Use Alcohol to Treat Opiate Withdrawal

It might seem like a good idea because alcohol is known to relieve anxiety and calm the mind and body, but there are a lot of reasons why using alcohol for opiate withdrawal is an extremely bad idea.

Mixing Alcohol and Opiates can Kill you

Mixing alcohol and opiates can easily cause a fatal overdose. They both depress the respiratory system which causes you to stop breathing.

Opens the Door to Binge Drinking

At the very least opiate withdrawal lasts three to five days. If you drink to avoid all of the effects of opiate withdrawal, what you are doing is binge drinking and going on a bender (drinking until drunk every day).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, both of these types of drinking can lead to these serious health risks:

  • Violence
  • High risk sexual activity
  • Suicide
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke

When you binge drink or go on a bender you also put yourself at risk for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. This deadly condition makes opiate withdrawal look pleasant.

Alcohol Causes Nausea and Vomiting in High Doses

Opiate withdrawal causes nausea and vomiting adding alcohol to the mix increases these symptoms. Using alcohol for opiate withdrawal makes these symptoms of opiate withdrawal worse.

Alcohol Dehydrates you

Both alcohol and opiates withdrawal can cause dehydration. Dehydration is a leading cause of hospitalization during opiate withdrawal. Do you really want to risk putting yourself into the hospital?

Alcohol can Damage the Immune System

Alcohol can decimate an immune system already ravaged by opiate abuse and withdrawal. This leaves you open to a variety of infections.

Alcohol can Give you a Hangover

Let’s face it, if you are using alcohol for opiate withdrawal there is a good chance you will drink too much of it. A hangover on top of opiate withdrawal will just make the opiate withdrawal worse.

Treating Opiate Withdrawal Without Using Alcohol

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, medication assisted treatment uses these medications to relieve the opiate withdrawal symptoms:

During medication assisted treatment you can also receive treatment for an alcohol use disorder if that is the reason why you are considering using alcohol to relieve opiate withdrawal symptoms.

You will also receive the counseling that you need for your opiate addiction and to help you with the cravings many people get after opiate withdrawal.

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