As a result of the current opioid crisis that is wreaking havoc on the United States, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that life expectancy among Americans has decreased for the third year in a row. Suicide and drug overdose are to blame for the current state of affairs, and overall in 2017, there were more than 2.8 million deaths, which is 70,000 more than the year before.

It was the most deaths in a single year since the government began tracking the statistic more than a century ago. The figures are a wake-up call that we are losing too many citizens of this country, and addiction to opioids is playing a significant role in this phenomenon. The problem is the increased access to synthetic drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

Each day in the United States, an estimated 130 people succumb to their opioid addiction and die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse and addiction to these opioid drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, and prescription pain relievers is a severe national crisis affecting public health as well as social and economic warfare. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of opioid overdose.

An estimated 1.7 million people struggle with a substance use disorder related to prescription opioid pain relievers, while another 652,000 are dealing with a heroin use disorder. Overdoses began to increase from 30 percent to 52 percent between July 2016 and September 2017, and it highlights a growing trend as time moves forward. The issue has become a public health crisis with devastating consequences.

Drugs like methadone are used in a practice known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and many of those who are sober from drugs like heroin may see no problem with using alcohol. Many believe that because they didn’t have a problem with alcohol, then it’s OK to use. Alcohol abuse and addiction is another severe crisis that affects Americans on all levels. Due to its legality and easy access, alcoholism remains a national threat.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has conducted studies on individuals age 18 or older and found that 70 percent of them admitted to drinking in the past year, with another 56 percent reporting that they drank in the past month.

While social drinking may not cause alcohol use disorder, those who binge drink may find themselves on the fast track to addiction. A reported 15.1 million adults aged 18 or older struggle with alcohol use disorders in the country, and only 6.7 percent of them have received treatment.

A staggering 88,000 people died in 2015 from alcohol abuse, making it one of the leading preventable causes of death in the country. With two such prominent figures in our underworld, the combination of alcohol and methadone may sound safe to some, but the reality is that it is far from safe. Let’s take a more in-depth look at this combination below.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid drug that is prescribed to treat symptoms related to opioid use disorder. The drug depresses the central nervous system (CNS) and alters the way the body responds to pain. It is highly useful for those in treatment because it can reduce withdrawal symptoms, which are often a barrier for individuals to get sober. While methadone has its benefits, many health issues can be complicated by taking the drug. Some of these complications include:

  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Abusing methadone

It’s imperative that the medication is used only when prescribed by a doctor. When the drug is being used, it should never be taken in conjunction with other substances. Methadone can cause intense side effects such as:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore tongue
  • Flushing
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Vision problems
  • Difficult falling asleep or staying asleep

Some More Severe Side Effects of Methadone Include:

  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Seizures
  • Inability to get or keep an erection
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness

Dangers of Mixing Methadone and Alcohol

Methadone and alcohol may seem like a harmless combination, but methadone is a potent central nervous system depressant. It has a long half-life, and it can cause respiratory depression for a prolonged period after the drug has been ingested. Alcohol is also a potent central nervous system depressant, and using the two in conjunction can cause significant respiratory depression.

When methadone and alcohol are mixed, it creates something known as a synergy. When you combine two central nervous system depressants, it increases the chance of respiratory depression, which can ultimately lead to death from the body’s inability to breathe. By taking the two, it has the power to amplify the effects of one another, leading to a much quicker intoxication rate. It can also cause a weak heart rate, coma, and potentially death.

If you have a tolerance to methadone and drink a glass of wine or consume a beer, it may not cause any immediate danger, but alcohol is dehydrating, and it depletes your body of vitamin B as well as other essential nutrients. When you are taking methadone, you must take every precaution to keep your body healthy. By doing so, it will prevent the possibility of dangerous interactions.

Are There Consequences?

Combining drugs is never safe, but combining two depressants can have severe consequences, which include death. Alcohol can affect the body’s metabolism rate, and when someone is using methadone for maintenance, alcohol can reduce the drug’s therapeutic effects. You may end up wanting to take another dose of the medication before its maximum effect is achieved.

Alcohol and methadone can increase your heartbeat, and this can lead to cardiac arrest if not monitored properly. There is a real possibility that even if the person’s addicted to methadone and alcohol does not have a history of a cardiac-related problem. For this reason, you can never know if mixing the two drugs is going to cause an adverse effect.

If you or anyone you know is abusing both methadone and alcohol, it’s imperative that you start the arduous process of stopping the drugs. You must never forgo this process under your own power, and you must seek medical detoxification so that a team of professionals can guide you.

Stopping alcohol cold turkey is dangerous and can cause seizures or death.

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