What Are the Effects of Mixing Crystal Meth and Alcohol?
Crystal meth (methamphetamine) is a potent stimulant drug that people use to obtain feelings of euphoria and to increase physical and sexual performance capabilities. These rewarding, pleasurable feelings can be so addictive that users ignore or deny the many negative symptoms of crystal meth use. It is a seriously dangerous drug on its own, and when combined with alcohol it can be even more deadly. In addition to ruining your physical health, destroying your mental well-being, and wreaking havoc on your relationships and career, an alcohol and crystal meth interaction can kill you. The dangers of crystal meth and alcohol intensify if a person is addicted to both substances.
The Side Effects of Using Crystal Meth With Alcoholic Drinks
Whether it’s smoked, snorted, or injected, crystal meth often results in feelings of euphoria – a false sense of confidence and increased feelings of well-being that can last for up to 24 hours.These rewarding, pleasurable feelings can be so addictive that users ignore or deny the many negative symptoms of crystal meth use. Some of the short and long-term negative consequences of crystal meth can include:1
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Loss of appetite.
- Severe weight loss.
- Serious tooth decay.
- Hallucinations or delusions.
- Feelings of insects crawling on the skin, which can result in severe scratching and wounds.
- Brain damage.
- Damage to the circulatory and nervous systems.
Once the so-called “positive” or desirable stimulant effects fade, the user craves more of the drug at more frequent intervals, thus resulting in a powerful addiction that can be difficult to overcome.
People may use alcohol as a way to intensify the pleasurable symptoms of crystal meth use. Since crystal meth is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, they are sometimes used to blunt the extremes of the other. For example, a person might first drink alcohol to obtain a “buzz” but then take crystal meth in an attempt to “sober up.” Similarly, alcohol might be used to take the edge off an unpleasantly speedy experience with methamphetamine or in an attempt to manage the anxiety associated with coming down off of the drug.
Many people use crystal meth and alcohol in binge-like patterns to help offset the negative effects of each, which can be the beginning of a cycle of serious dependence. Crystal meth and alcohol use can result in serious, negative physical and mental health consequences, especially when taken in high doses. Some of the dangers can include:2,3
- An increase in risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex.
- An increased risk of contracting HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.
- Compromised decision-making abilities.
- An increased risk of accidents or injuries.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- An increased heart rate.
- High blood pressure.
- An increased risk of birth defects.
- An increased risk of suicide.
Concerns of Mixing Alcohol with Other Drugs
- Crack Cocaine
- Bath Salts
Treatment for Addiction to Crystal Meth and Alcohol
Admitting that you or a loved one has a problem with crystal meth and alcohol is the first step on the road to recovery. Trying to stop cold-turkey isn’t advisable, as you may be faced with mild to serious withdrawal symptoms such as:3
- Mental fog or confusion.
Seeking professional help is the best way to overcome an addiction to crystal meth and alcohol. At this point, there are no medications to specifically manage a crystal meth and alcohol addiction. Some of the most successful options for treatment are based on cognitive and behavioral interventions and may include:2,4
- Medically supervised detox. This is usually the first step in a comprehensive recovery program. Detox can provide the proper support and assistance an addict needs to cope during withdrawal phase.
- Inpatient treatment. Inpatient residential treatment programs provide safe, structured and supervised environments with care and assistance available 24/7. This form of treatment is often most useful for people who have a severe dependency or for those who prefer an intensive, multifaceted approach to care.
- Outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment programs based on the Matrix model or on contingency management interventions are beneficial forms of treatment for crystal meth. The Matrix model involves 16 weeks of treatment that includes behavior therapy, group counseling, drug testing, 12-step groups and family education. Contingency management interventions involve stimulating motivation for recovery based on a reward system -- the recovery center and therapist offer rewards to the patient in exchange for participation in treatment and abstinence.
- Individual counseling. Once a person is well on the road to recovery, or for those who require less intensive treatment, individual counseling on a weekly basis can provide the support a person needs to stay clean and sober.
- 12-step programs. Many recovering addicts choose to participate in and work through the 12-steps of recovery for the rest of their lives.
Hotline to Call
Please call our 24-hour hotline if you need information about treatment for addiction to crystal meth or alcohol for yourself or for a loved one who’s experiencing the effects of mixing crystal meth and alcohol.
- Foundation for a Drug-Free World. (2016). The Deadly Effects of Meth.
- Jenner, L. & Lee, N. (2008). Australian Government, Department of Health and Aging. Treatment Approaches for Users of Methamphetamine: A Practical Guide for Frontline Workers.
- Australian Drug Foundation. (2014). DrugInfo: Ice Facts.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). Methamphetamine: What treatments are effective for people who abuse methamphetamine?