Mixing Alcohol and Other Substances
As the most commonly used intoxicant in the United States (and much of the world), alcohol is very likely to be mixed with any number of legal and illicit drugs. Because alcohol is a highly reactive substance that impacts many different body systems, it is also very likely to encounter any other substances in the body and react with them.
In some cases (such as with many opioids), alcohol magnifies and amplifies the effects of the other medication, often to a dangerous level. In other cases (including a number of prescription medications), alcohol will partially or fully negate the impact of the other drug, which can have equally drastic consequences. Sometimes, alcohol will react with another drug (a well-known example being cocaine) and create impacts that are entirely different from either of the original substances.
Because so many of the interactions between drugs and alcohol are dangerous, it is very important that you never mix alcohol with any drugs without first consulting a physician. If you are on a prescription but find that you are unable to stop drinking in order to take it, you may need help. Find a rehab facility now that can help you deal with an alcohol use disorder.
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Substances Commonly Mixed With Alcohol
People mix alcohol with Adderall to lessen the depressive symptoms of alcohol due to a common myth that people can combine stimulants with depressants because they “cancel each other out.” This misconception is based on a misunderstanding of how alcohol and Adderall affect the mental and physical systems of the body when used simultaneously. In fact, the combined actions of these two drugs can increase the negative effects that both drugs have on the body causing severe health risks. It is true that the sensation of the sedative effects of alcohol can be significantly diminished by taking Adderall while drinking, however this can cause an individual to consume larger amounts of alcohol than the body can manage resulting in an overdose or other complications. Alcohol and Adderall have negative effects when combined on the heart, including:
- Accelerated heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Risk of heart attack, stroke, or other heart disease
Therefore, it is highly dangerous and risky to consume Alcohol while taking Adderall.
There are many different types of antibiotics, each of which will interact with alcohol differently. It is very important to consult with a physician and carefully read all labels. The biggest risk to mixing alcohol and antibiotics is liver damage, as both are metabolized in the liver. Other common reactions including nausea, dizziness, vomiting, tiredness, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath. Additionally, many anti-biotics will not work effectively in the body if you consume alcohol while taking them.
Antidepressants and alcohol magnify the impacts of each other, making an individual feel more intoxicated than they would otherwise. Alcohol can also negate the effect of the antidepressant, eliminating the desired impacts and possibly limiting the success of treatment. This combination can also cause unexpected and extreme emotions.
Alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of antihistamines if the body chooses to metabolize the alcohol before the antihistamine. Alcohol may cause more severe side effects when mixed with certain antihistamines.
There is a widespread myth that cocaine and alcohol cancel each other out, but that is far from the truth. Alcohol and cocaine combine in the body to form a third substance, cocaethylene. Cocaethylene causes the highest level of cardiovascular activity of any drug, which puts extreme pressure and stress on the heart and often leads to cardiac arrest and death.
These drinks trick your body into thinking it is less tired and intoxicated than it truly is, leading to greater, and potentially dangerous, levels of alcohol consumption. These drinks also dehydrate the body, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning and the severity of hangovers. Those who drink alcohol with caffeine are more than twice as likely to be injured, require medical attention, or accept a ride from an intoxicated driver than those who drank alcohol without caffeine.
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Alcohol reduces the euphoric feeling that Ecstasy causes and the physical impairments caused by the drug, but combining the two puts a tremendous strain on the kidneys. Mixing alcohol with Ecstasy causes dangerous dehydration. Most Ecstasy-related deaths are the result of mixing the drug with alcohol. Furthermore, both drugs lower inhibitions on their own, but when taken together, there is a significant increase risky behavior, such as having unprotected sex. Since users may feel less impaired on alcohol when combined with Ecstasy, people are at much greater risk of overdose or alcohol poisoning. To increase euphoria, users are more likely to use more of either substance when combined, resulting in heart failure, high blood pressure, seizures, loss of consciousness, panic attacks, and fainting. Ecstasy is especially dangerous because Ecstasy pills are not usually pure MDMA; they are often combined with other substances. Therefore, it may be difficult for the user to determine what they are actually consuming with alcohol, which can increase the risk of overdose as well.
Legal and Illicit Opioids
Mixing alcohol with opioids such as heroin, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Percocet, and more is extremely dangerous. Alcohol and opioids magnify the depressive effects of each other, leading to potentially fatal sedation and respiratory failure. The most life-threatening side effect of combining alcohol with Opioids is depressed breathing. Without enough oxygen, the brain will begin to shut down organ systems, and the person can eventually suffer brain damage or death due to lack of oxygen. These two types of drugs can also cause serious liver damage if mixed.
Combining alcohol with opioids can lead to other side effects as well, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate and rhythm
- Cardiovascular instability
- Dizziness or loss of coordination
- Marked disinhibition
- Abnormal behavior
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory arrest
Mixing marijuana and alcohol can cause severe effects, including severe intoxication, dizziness, vomiting, paranoia, and decreased functioning. Marijuana suppresses the gag reflex and may leave intoxicated individuals unable to throw up, therefore causing alcohol poisoning The overlap of these two substances result in feeling numb, dizzy, losing track of time and space, and can result in a high rate of errors and accidents due to real time function and rational thinking impairment on specific tasks. More dangerously, the result of combining marijuana with alcohol can result in major impact on the Central Nervous System. The most common side effects include:
- Changes in emotional behavior
- Compromised judgment
- Decreased attention, perception, and memory
- Impaired motor coordination, thinking, and problem solving
- Memory loss
Mixing alcohol with hallucinogens is commonly done, particularly when having a bad trip as alcohol often mellows more adverse side effects of hallucinogens. In contrast, hallucinogens, such as mushrooms or LSD, cancels-out some of the side effects of alcohol, such as the feeling of “drunkenness.” It is very dangerous to mix alcohol with hallucinogens because it is very frequent for the ingredients in these substances to not be pure so the user does not actually know what they are taking.
Even in their purest form, mixing alcohol with hallucinogens is likely to cause adverse side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and other gastrological effects. Severe depression is often a side-effect that occurs while combining alcohol with hallucinogens. This severe depression will last longer and often result in suicidal thoughts. Alcohol also exacerbates the risk-taking behavior often seen on individuals using hallucinogens. This often leads to legal, financial, and social consequences. Mixing alcohol with hallucinogens can also cause mentally scarring, “bad trips.”
Mixing alcohol with meth is one of the most dangerous possible combinations. The combination of alcohol and meth puts extreme pressure on the heart and greatly raises blood pressure. Violent behavior and sexual promiscuity are very common with both of these substances, however they become even more likely when you mix them. This mix also causes significant kidney damage and worsens hangovers.
Treating Addiction to Alcohol and Other Substances
In many cases, the same individual may be addicted to alcohol and other substances at the same time. This poses extra challenges during treatment, because the patient will have more specialized needs. In particular, detox can be especially challenging and dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms from all substances may be present and exaggerated. It is critical that patients who are addicted to alcohol and other substances detox under the supervision of a professional because of the many serious and potentially fatal impacts that can occur. Even after initial detox is completed, treatment professionals will have to deal with all addictions at once, which can be difficult. After leaving treatment, the patient is advised to attend support groups for all substances, for example Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
The Time for Treatment Is Now
If you have a prescription medication that requires you to stop drinking, but you find that you can’t you need help. If you’re mixing alcohol with illicit drugs, you also need help. Luckily, there are dedicated treatment providers waiting on the line to help you find the right treatment center to get your life back. Contact a dedicated treatment provider to get started on the road to recovery.