People who abuse alcohol can develop a tolerance to the drug, making them more likely to drink a greater amount to feel the same effects. Over time, they may feel as though alcohol is not enough to take the edge off or to help them relax, and they may turn to other recreational drugs. However, mixing recreational drugs with alcohol can be dangerous, or even fatal.
Mixing Depressants with Alcohol
Alcohol depresses the nervous system, causing the organs to function more slowly and making the user feel calm, uninhibited, and relaxed. When alcohol is abused, it can also cause drowsiness and reduce reaction time. If you take a depressant, such as Valium or another anti-anxiety drug, with alcohol, it can slow down your nervous system so much that it stops functioning. Your heart rate and breathing can slow down dangerously, leading to death. When recreational drugs are mixed with alcohol, they can lead to overdose, even if the amount of each would not normally cause an overdose on its own.
It is easy to overdose on GHB, a recreational depressant, because it is often difficult to determine the exact concentration when the drug is taken in liquid form. Recreational users also often increase the dosage to feel the effects of the drug more intensely. GHB can cause unconsciousness or vomiting, and those effects are intensified by alcohol consumption. Mixing GHB with alcohol can lead to coma, suffocation from inhaling one's own vomit, and death.
Although marijuana is not classified specifically as a depressant, using it with alcohol can intensify the sedative effects of both drugs. This can cause a lack of coordination, slow reaction time, and can make you feel even more intoxicated than you would if you took either substance alone.
Concerns of Mixing Alcohol with Other Drugs
Mixing Stimulants with Alcohol
Even though mixing a stimulant, which speeds up the nervous system, may seem like it might counteract the effects of alcohol, it's a dangerous combination. Alcohol can increase the effects of the stimulant, and the stimulant can increase the effects of the alcohol, but the user is less likely to notice, making it more likely that the user will overdose. Taking alcohol with some drugs may prolong the existence of the drug in the body, increasing the risk of side effects. Taking a stimulant with alcohol may make the user drink too much, leading to alcohol poisoning.
Mixing stimulants and alcohol can send the cardiovascular system into overdrive or cause liver or kidney damage. It can also cause strokes and convulsions.
Cocaine and alcohol combine in the body to form a toxic substance that intensifies the effects of the cocaine. This may cause cardiovascular problems like heart failure. Mixing alcohol with MDMA (ecstasy) can cause severe dehydration, which increases the risk of alcohol poisoning and death. Even combining alcohol with caffeine can be dangerous. If you mix highly caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol, you may not feel tired as you consume more alcohol, and you might be more likely to drink more than your body can handle. This can cause dehydration, cardiac arrest, and an intense hangover.
Chronic Abuse of Recreational Drugs and Alcohol
Although taking recreational drugs with alcohol just once can cause major health issues or death, mixing drugs and alcohol regularly can increase the likelihood of dependence. People who are addicted to stimulants may drink to take the edge off or to mellow out the side effects caused by the stimulant. However, taking drugs with alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of both, leading to health problems over time. People who have a problem with the abuse of recreational drugs or alcohol can seek treatment through several different avenues. They can attend group or individual counseling sessions, go through a rehab program, or meet with support groups. A free helpline is available for people seeking help with drug or alcohol addiction. Call us to find out more about resources for drug and alcohol treatment.