Cocaine is an extremely addictive illegal drug that acts as a central nervous system stimulant. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Some addicts mix the two substances to counteract the unpleasant side effects of either one. Others are convinced that drinking alcohol while using cocaine prolongs the "high," or sense of euphoria and escape, for which they turn to cocaine.
Dangers of Cocaethelylene
Regardless of any perceived or real advantages that addicts ascribe to using the two substances together, the effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol are very dangerous. The two substances combine to form a chemical called cocaethylene, which can cause severe heart damage and liver disease as it builds up in the liver over a long period of time. Patients who are addicted to cocaine and alcohol are at risk for severe and rapid cardiac damage due to the large amounts of both substances that they abuse on a regular basis.
In some cases, the effects of the cocaethylene produced by the use of both cocaine and alcohol are acute and immediate. Cocaine causes the heart to beat faster, and when it combines with alcohol, the increase in heart rate can reach levels that lead to a heart attack or cardiac arrest. An emergency of this type often serves as a warning that treatment for addiction to cocaine and alcohol is necessary.
If you or your loved one has needed emergency medical treatment after using cocaine while drinking alcohol, please call our 24-hour helpline. We will assist you in finding the right treatment to prevent any further harm that is caused by the effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol.
Even if an addict escapes acute effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol, cocaethylene will build up in the liver. When this occurs, a patient who is addicted to cocaine and alcohol develops a risk of liver disease as well as heart damage, since the liver stores cocaethylene and cannot eliminate it from the bloodstream. Sudden heart attacks remain a risk even if an addict stops abusing alcohol and cocaine, so that the sooner a patient who is addicted to cocaine and alcohol begins treatment, the easier it is to prevent the long-term harmful effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol.
Treatment for patients who are addicted to cocaine and alcohol begins with detoxification. Whenever more than one substance is involved, and especially given the dangerous effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol, detoxification should begin in a treatment facility. Once the patient is no longer in need of acute treatment to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cocaine and alcohol, intensive counseling can begin.
Concerns of Mixing Alcohol with Other Drugs
Dangers of Mixing Alcohol with Specific Stimulants
Counseling for Addicts
Counseling is directed toward helping the addict deal with the particular personal experiences and pressures that led him or her to become addicted to cocaine and alcohol. In many cases, this addiction starts due to social pressure. Cocaine and alcohol are often available at parties and other social events that are frequented by young people who see themselves and their behavior as daring, or avant-garde, or otherwise positive. Guests at such events convince each other to drink alcohol while using cocaine, to enhance the pleasant and euphoric events of the illegal drug. Removing a recovering addict from any social milieu in which cocaine and alcohol are considered positive in any way is a key part of the recovery process.
Therefore, it is best that residential treatment for addiction to cocaine and alcohol continues for as long as possible until it is clear that the patient has made progress toward facing the causes of his or her addiction. A sober living environment that includes supervision, monitoring and ongoing counseling is recommended after the acute rehabilitation treatment ends, as this will ensure that the recovering addict does not seek out social events in which cocaine and alcohol are made available. Alternately, inpatient treatment for addiction to cocaine and alcohol can be followed up with intensive outpatient counseling and support. Rehabilitation treatment and follow-up should also include medical care for the physical effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol.
Hotline to Call
Please call our 24-hour hotline if you need information on treatment for addiction to cocaine or alcohol for yourself or for a loved one who is experiencing the effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol.