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Combined Drug Intoxication: Deadly Cocktails

Combined Drug Intoxication | Just Believe Recovery
In This Article

Many people who use multiple drugs or drink alcohol in combination are unaware of the potentially life-threatening consequences of combined drug intoxication. Alcohol is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant. When used in conjunction with other drugs that depress the CNS (opioids, for example), the compounded effect can be far more hazardous than the abuse of either substance alone.

Conversely, mixing alcohol with stimulants can cause conflict within the body since it must work overtime to make sense of the conflicting effects. This reaction can put extreme strain on the heart and result in arrhythmia or sudden cardiac arrest.

Finally, using prescription or illicit drugs, even without alcohol, can be equally problematic Common yet dangerous combinations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Prescription/illicit opioids and benzodiazepines
  • Prescription/illicit opioids and cocaine or meth
  • Benzodiazepines (benzos) and cocaine or meth

Other drugs that can cause side effects when used with substances without medical supervision include muscle relaxers, hypnotics, antipsychotics, and certain antidepressants. The more drugs that are in a person’s system, the more unpredictable and dangerous the effects will be.

Opioids and Alcohol

Prescription painkillers, such as hydrocodone, and illicit opioids, such as heroin, are highly addictive and risky to use excessively even on their own. Severe side effects may include decreased heart rate, depressed breathing, and profound drowsiness. When combined with alcohol, the risk of life-threatening CNS depression and respiratory arrest can be much higher.

Other severe side effects associated with mixing alcohol and prescription painkillers include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe depression
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma and death

Benzos and Alcohol

Benzos and alcohol are both depressants, and when mixed, oversedation can occur rapidly. If this happens, breathing may be depressed to the point of respiratory failure and can result in sudden death.

Other hazardous side effects of combining alcohol with benzos include the following:

  • Mania
  • Delusions
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Mood swings

Opioids and Benzos

Both opioid medications and their illicit counterparts have a high potential for abuse and addiction when taken alone. When used in any combination, all of these risks increase exponentially.

Benzos and opioids, when taken together, are particularly dangerous because benzos enhance the effects of opioids. In long-term opioid users, tolerance tends to occur. This means they no longer experience the sought-after effects their drug of choice and may be compelled to use increasing amounts or additional substances.

When benzos are added to the mix, they may find they can achieve that initial euphoria. However, they also may not realize that the effects of the two drugs combined increase exponentially and raise the risk of oversedation, respiratory issues, and death by overdose.

Symptoms of an overdose of depressants include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Unconsciousness
  • Irregular, depressed breathing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Confusion
  • Reduced reaction to stimuli
  • Brain damage
  • Coma and death

Cocaine and Alcohol

Combined Drug Intoxication | Just Believe Recovery

When used together, cocaine and alcohol can incite the liver to produce cocaethylene. This dangerous chemical can put enormous stress on one or more major organs. This chemical can also induce many life-threatening side effects, including cardiac arrest, aneurysm, brain damage, hemorrhage, and death.

Even without the presence of cocaethylene, using cocaine and alcohol can result in other unwanted or dangerous effects that include the following:

  • Stomach pain
  • Labored breathing
  • Impaired coordination
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Coma

Ecstasy (MDMA) and Alcohol

Ecstasy (MDMA, Molly) is a popular drug among teens and young adults, especially in social scenes such as raves, parties, concerts, and clubs. Combining ecstasy and alcohol can initially enhance feelings of energy and euphoria, but can also lead to an intense comedown or crash. When taking MDMA, the user may feel as if they can drink more alcohol than usual and remain relatively sober and alert. For this reason, however, alcohol poisoning may be more likely to occur.

Other adverse effects of combining alcohol and ecstasy include the following:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dehydration
  • Risky behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Heart attack
  • Hyperthermia
  • Kidney or liver damage

Opioids and Stimulants

Combining opioids and stimulants can ultimately lead to a tug-of-war reaction in the body as it is trying to figure out how to respond to the competing messages it is receiving.

Moreover, opioid send signals that work to depress the nervous system, while stimulants, such as meth in its various forms and cocaine, are trying to accelerate it. The overall effect can result in a cancelation of some of the unwanted symptoms of either drug. Unfortunately, however, the user, although feeling good, may be ignorant of the fact that he or she has ingested a potentially lethal cocktail.

Dangerous symptoms of mixing depressants with stimulants include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired coordination
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Coma
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death

Getting Treatment for Addiction

You should never use any drugs or alcohol in combination with another substance without a prescription or medical direction from a doctor.

If you are abusing multiple substances, we urge you to contact us today and find out how we can get you back on the path to recovery and good health, one step at a time!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Percocet and Alcohol
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