Partial Opioid Agonists And Alcohol Mixed

Last Updated: August 8, 2019

alcohol and partial opioid agonists

Over the last couple of years, the use of partial opioid agonists and alcohol has increased greatly. Concomitant use of alcohol and partial opioid agonist can lead to serious and permanent health problems, which can increase the risk of overdose and death with similar results to a combination of augmentin and alcohol. Opioids are classified depending on the receptor binding and affinity. There are full opioid agonists and partial opioid agonists. Partial opioid agonists activate the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a lesser degree when compared to its full agonists cousins. However, they share similar side effects. This article explains all side effects of partial opioid agonists with alcohol, drug synergy and overdose, and the treatment of concurrent addiction.

What Are The Partial Opioid Agonists?

Partial opioid agonists are a heterogeneous group of drugs whose function is to bind and activate a given receptor in the brain but produce fewer effects when compared with full opioid agonists. Sometimes, partial agonists can be referred to ligands— which displays two different effects; Both agonistic and antagonistic effects. E.g. Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is considered as a partial agonist drug since it activates the opioid receptors to a lesser degree. However, buprenorphine also acts as an antagonist. In the case where a full agonist drug like heroin, oxycodone, or hydrocodone is used, usage of buprenorphine helps to neutralize the effects of the full agonist drug (s)  by competing for the receptor occupancy, hence, the activation of the receptor is to a minimal level.

Examples of other partial opioid agonists include:

  • Butorphanol
  • Pentazocine
  • Tramadol
  • Suboxone (contains buprenorphine and naloxone. However, buprenorphine is the primary ingredient)

Health Effects Of Partial Opioid Agonists And Alcohol

The consumption of partial opioid agonist drugs like buprenorphine, butorphanol, tramadol, or suboxone with liquor can lead to numerous health problems. The whole purpose of opioid agonist drugs is to block pain signals sent from the brain to the rest of the body. This relieves pain and makes people feel happy and relaxed. Alcohol, on the other hand, produces a similar result of euphoria and sudden relaxation. These two drugs have different side effects. A combination of them means more side effects and health complications since they both act on the brain and body. Listed below are some ways partial opioid agonists and drinking can affect health:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased breathing
  • Numbness
  • Fainting, loss of consciousness
  • Dehydration
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Death.

All these complications mentioned above can be associated with some of the long term effects of drugs and alcohol. Regular intake of partial opioid agonists and liquor increases a person’s tolerance to both substances meaning the user would have to use more quantity of both substances to be able to experience the same effects as before which then leads to overdose just like cannabis mixed with alcohol.

Statistics Of Partial Opioid Agonists And Drinking

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, In USA, about 76% of 51 injecting and 49 non-injecting out-of-treatment users reported having obtained buprenorphine/naloxone, one of the partial opioid agonists, illicitly, with a majority using the illicit medication for therapeutic purposes. More IDUs than non-IDUs reported using illicit buprenorphine/naloxone for these purposes, while more non-IDUs than IDUs reported using buprenorphine to “get high.”

Also, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4% of people from 18 years and above reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. 56.0% said they drank in the past month, and 70.1%, in the past year.

alcoholic cocktail

“Drug synergy” And Overdose On POAs And Ethanol

The following are drug interactions between alcohol and some partial opioid agonists which can cause the total effect of each drug to be greater than the sum of the individual effects:

  • Subutex and alcohol: Subutex is a well-known buprenorphine drug that has many side effects on its own. When consumed with alcohol, can lead to serious health complications. There is a higher concentration of the two substances due to increased drug absorption. On a general note, it is not advisable to take alcohol while on Subutex treatment unless under the supervision of a health professional.
  • Suboxone and Alcohol: Drinking alcohol on suboxone is a dangerous action. The side effects of this combination include the decrease in blood pressure leading to hypertension, decreased respiratory rate, increase absorption rate, sedation, anxiety, etc. Liquor also intensifies the effects of suboxone by augmenting the most common symptoms associated with suboxone use which is vertigo and lethargy.
  • Tramadol and alcohol: Tramadol is a well-known drug mostly abused by youths today. When consumed together with alcohol causes drug synergism leading to overdose and death. Both substances are central nervous system depressant, which slows down the brain function causing depression which may lead to suicidal thoughts.

POAs Can Help In Alcoholism Treatment

The use of partial opioid agonists can help reduce alcohol craving in addicts, A reduction in cravings can help prevent relapse and allow addicts to live a life free from alcohol. According to the Journal of Psychiatry, a test was carried out on a patient who had been drinking alcohol for many years.

A low dose of buprenorphine (4 mg daily) helped to reduce the patient’s cravings for alcohol.
Additionally, the National Center for Biotechnology Information claims that the NOP agonistic properties of buprenorphine might be useful in the treatment of alcoholism.

Treating Concurrent Addiction

Treatment for addiction to alcohol and suboxone or any other partial opioid agonist drugs begin with consulting a healthcare professional. A medical detox program is recommended for someone who has a history of taking partial opioid agonist drugs and alcohol together. Depending on the severity, patients are given the option to choose from either a program of outpatient rehabilitation or an inpatient/residential rehab center. In cases of severe addiction where an individual has made attempts to stop but relapsed, an inpatient treatment program can help provide consistent support in a therapeutic environment. There are also several rehab programs and treatment options for patients suffering from concurrent addictions like Phenobarbital or Xanax and alcohol which is said to increase the activity of inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) in the brain.


Brian Obinna Obodeze

Brian Obodeze

Content Writer

Brian Obinna Obodeze is a professional health-niche content developer for with six years of experience as a research writer. He is an expert in medical content development, especially in the field of addictions, general health, homeopathic medicine, and pharmaceuticals.

Brian has a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Benin and has worked as a Lab Scientist and as a public healthcare officer. His hobbies include physical fitness, reading, and social entrepreneurship.

Medical review by Dr. Gregory Okhifun

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