Mixing Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) and Alcohol: Effects and Risks

Last Updated: April 25, 2023

Dilaudid can help treat pain, but taking Dilaudid and alcohol together can increase your risk of dangerous side effects, including overdose.

The opioid epidemic has claimed almost one million American lives. Opioids like Dilaudid may work well for relieving pain but carry a risk of health consequences like an overdose. Many opioid overdoses involve the use of other substances like benzodiazepines or alcohol. For this reason, it is important to understand the risks of drinking if you take Dilaudid.

What Is Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)? 

Dilaudid is the brand name for the opioid hydromorphone, an opioid four times stronger than morphine. The drug works by acting on the brain’s opioid receptors to relieve pain and is prescribed for acute and chronic pain that is bad enough to need an opioid. Dilaudid is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence.

Dilaudid’s side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Flushed skin
  • Mood changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Itchy skin
  • Constipation
  • Headache

Dilaudid and Alcohol Interactions

Dilaudid and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow down the activity of your brain and nerves. Because of this, they have similar effects on the body, including side effects. Although it is not recommended to combine them, some people might mix them to become more sedated than they would on each substance alone. Others might not realize the risk of drinking while taking Dilaudid while accidentally risking their health when they drink.

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Dilaudid

Because alcohol and Dilaudid are central nervous system depressants, combining them can cause increased side effects. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as:

  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Concentration problems
  • Impaired thinking 
  • Poor judgment

However, more dangerous side effects, including overdose, are possible in severe cases.

Dangers of Combining Dilaudid and Alcohol 

Mixing central nervous system depressants like alcohol and Dilaudid can be dangerous over the short and long term. If you or a loved one mix alcohol and Dilaudid, it is important to be aware of the health consequences.

Short-term Effects

Even in the short term, mixing Dilaudid and alcohol can be dangerous. Although taking them together in any amount is risky, the health risks can increase with larger amounts. Some of the short-term effects of combining Dilaudid and alcohol include:

  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing
  • Fainting
  • Coma
  • Death

If you take a long-acting form of Dilaudid, drinking alcohol can make the drug release more quickly into your bloodstream than intended, increasing your risk of an opioid overdose.

Long-term Effects

Little is known about the long-term effects of combining alcohol and Dilaudid or other opioids. However, the long-term risks of these individual substances are well known and include lifelong health problems.

Long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to complications like:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver disease
  • Digestive problems, including poor vitamin absorption
  • Cancers, including those of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon and rectum
  • Weakened immune system
  • Cognitive problems with learning and memory 
  • Mental health problems like depression and anxiety
  • Social problems
  • Alcohol addiction

Long-term opioid use can lead to complications such as:

  • Constipation
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Falls and fractures
  • Hormone abnormalities
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Weakened immune system
  • Opioid addiction

Overdose Potential

Mixing alcohol and Dilaudid can increase your risk of overdosing on both substances. As many as 29% of all opioid overdose deaths involve alcohol use. It is important to be aware of the overdose symptoms for both agents, as they are similar.

Dilaudid’s overdose symptoms include:

  • Pale or clammy skin
  • Limp muscles
  • Purple or blue lips or fingernails
  • Vomiting or gurgling noises
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat

Symptoms of an alcohol overdose are:

  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slowed or irregular breathing 
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Clammy skin
  • Dulled physical responses
  • Low body temperature
  • Bluish or pale skin 

An overdose of alcohol or Dilaudid is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is overdosing on one or both of these substances, you should call 911 immediately. If the person has taken Dilaudid, you can administer the opioid reversal agent (Narcan) if available after calling 911.

Help for Dilaudid and Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one struggle with Dilaudid and alcohol, help is available. Quitting multiple substances (polysubstance abuse) can be overwhelming on your own. But The Recovery Village Columbus can help through our medical detox program to wean you off alcohol and Dilaudid and our rehab programs to help you stay sober over the long term. Don’t wait — contact a Recovery Advocate  today to learn more.

Need to Talk to Someone Now?

Our Recovery Advocates are available 24/7 to help connect you to the resources you need.

All calls are 100% confidential

Our Recovery Advocates


Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.

Get your life back

Recovery is possible. Begin your journey today

Call Us Now Admissions Check Insurance

What To Expect

When you call our team, you will speak to a Recovery Advocate who will answer any questions and perform a pre-assessment to determine your eligibility for treatment. If eligible, we will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. If The Recovery Village is not the right fit for you or your loved one, we will help refer you to a facility that is. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

All calls are 100% free and confidential.