There are an estimated 20 million alcoholics in America, and about 6 million people dependent and using pain pills daily. Of course a significant number of these chemically dependent people are using the two together

An addiction to pain pills and alcohol concurrently presents with some significant problems, and as with any addiction, the earlier it's dealt with the better the prognosis and the easier the detox.

People may develop an addiction to alcohol with opiate type pain pills as they use alcohol to increase the analgesic or pain killing effect of the pills or more commonly, they use alcohol to increase the intoxicating effects of the pills.

Alcohol can increase the effects of pills substantially, and unfortunately, though concurrent use increases the pleasure of the high, it also intensifies the entrenchment of the addiction, and makes for a far more difficult period of detox.

The health risks of an addiction to alcohol and pills

The health risks of a combined addiction to alcohol and pills also exceed that of an addiction to either substance alone. Acutely, alcohol and pills can combine together to increase the respiratory slowing effects of the opiate type pill, and in overdose reactions, respiration stoppage and death is a scary possibility.

Pills also increase the risks of acute and chronic liver damage from drinking. Vicodin, the most commonly abused pain killer with its acetaminophen content is particularly problematic, and addicts abusing vicodin alone are at risk for liver damage, and when alcohol is also abused, the potential for damage increases greatly.

With the risks of overdose and death and long term health deficits, as well as all of the social and familial problems that a concurrent addiction can create, it's important to tackle any addiction to pills and alcohol without delay

How to detox off of alcohol and pills

The detox off of pills alone can be very arduous, and is much like heroin in duration and intensity. The detox off of alcohol, although not as uncomfortable, is actually more dangerous, and the symptoms of detox can be so severe as to be lethal. The combination when taken together presents with a detox of particular challenge, and risks to health.

Clinical research has shown that the detox off of alcohol and the influence of the hyperactive neurotransmitter GABA during this alcohol detox, actually has the effect of intensifying and prolonging the pains of opiate detox.

Because the dual detox can be dangerous, and is almost certainly very uncomfortable, most people are unable to detox on their own, and need medical supervision for safety, and for success.

Additionally because of the extreme discomfort of a concurrent detox, and the severe cravings typical of the days of withdrawal, very few people can maintain a resolve to stay off of drugs that they know will take all the pains away. A sequestered detox away from access to drugs and alcohol offers a far better likelihood of success.

It's going to be tough, and you should get some help

Although the detox off of alcohol and pills together is likely to be a very challenging few days, once concurrently addicted there is no advantage to delaying the inevitable, and especially as with every further day of abuse the addiction entrenches and the future pains and dangers of detox grow worse.

You very likely need professional and supervised detox for a safe and effective withdrawal, and detox is of course only the first step to sobriety, and most people will benefit enormously from a following period of drug treatment therapies.

It's going to be tough, but you can do it.

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