Mixing Alcohol with Cocaine: What Are the Dangers?
As it often happens, once a rumor starts, it’s tough to ignore — especially if it hangs around so long that it becomes truth for those who want to believe it. One of these rumors-turned-gospel is actually a myth. And it’s a dangerous one:
That mixing alcohol and cocaine is a safe way to manage the effects these substances produce on their own.
The truth is quite the opposite. Cocaine is an “upper” or stimulant, and alcohol is a “downer” or depressant. Someone addicted to cocaine may mix it with alcohol to bring their energy level down. On the other hand, a person who drinks alcohol regularly may take cocaine to boost energy so they can make it through the day.
Both individuals mistakenly believe the two substances together cancel each other out or, at the very least, one mitigates the effects of the other. But that isn’t the case, and for someone struggling with drug addiction and alcohol use disorder, trying to separate fact from fiction isn’t easy. And the dangers are concerning.
Are you worried about your substance use or that of a loved one? Call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 to speak to one of our caring specialists.
How Cocaine Affects the Body
Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances, and long-term cocaine use can lead to physical and psychological dependence. How long it takes to become addicted, the severity of cocaine addiction, and the chances of overdose or death, depend heavily on how long a person has used cocaine and how much they use.
A person’s body builds tolerance over time. As with any substance abuse, long-term use of cocaine can also lead to dependence. High tolerance and physical dependence on cocaine leads to higher and more frequent use, which can lead to overdose and, ultimately, death.
Cocaine isn’t a new stimulant drug. It’s been used for thousands of years and was even an original ingredient in the well-known carbonated beverage Coca-cola® — Coke®. It produces painkilling, intoxicating, and energizing effects and has two forms:
- Powder. The powder form is typically snorted through the nose or mixed with water and injected into the bloodstream.
- Crack and Freebase. Freebase and crack cocaine are similar but not identical chemically. Both are usually smoked by heating the cocaine “rock” in a pipe, but they’re also injected.
Some of the most common effects of cocaine include:
- Immediate elation or intense happiness
- Boost of energy
- Irresistible urge to talk
- Increased mental alertness
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Shaking or restlessness
- Panic attack
- Asthmatic breathing
Other biological effects occurring in the body that may not be outwardly apparent include:
- Increasing body temperature
- Rise in heart rate
- Spikes in blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Taxing of heart muscles
Note: This is not an exclusive list of cocaine’s negative effects on the body. If you have experienced any of these or others, or you’re worried about mixing alcohol and cocaine, please get in touch with Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 to speak to one of our caring specialists.
What Happens When You Mix Cocaine and Alcohol?
Any combination of substances is dangerous and can be deadly. Mixing alcohol with other substances can be especially dangerous. According to a 2022 report from Europe’s Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, more than 50% of people suffering from cocaine dependence also have an alcohol addiction. To complicate matters, mental health conditions often drive individuals to self-medicate with alcohol and other substances before receiving professional medical advice. However, addiction can worsen mental health conditions and aggravate or produce co-occurring disorders.
Additional Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Cocaine
Separately, use of alcohol and cocaine can wreak havoc on your body, lead to overdose, and result in long-term health issues and even sudden death. On top of that, the combined effects of these two substances on cognitive functions make it difficult to know when enough is enough, which can lead to side effects such as alcohol poisoning. Many potential side effects are multiplied when alcohol and cocaine are mixed.
The most significant danger of mixing cocaine with alcohol consumption is the effect on your liver. As your liver metabolizes cocaine and alcohol, it produces metabolites and a deadly byproduct called cocaethylene. This compound is acutely harmful and creates a cocaethylene toxicity response in the body. It can remain for as little as a few days to as long as a few weeks.
When this compound is present in the body, especially at toxic levels, it can lead to serious consequences for cocaine users with alcohol addiction and even first-time users. Short-term consequences include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
- Faster heart rate
- Loss of cognitive capacity
- Violent thoughts
- Decreased coordination or ability to move
The longer it remains in the body, the worse these potential conditions become and can lead to:
- Heart attack
- Brain damage
- Liver damage
- Bleeding on the brain
- Heart disease
- Arrythmia, which can cause a heart attack
These two substances mixed can also lower or entirely remove inhibitions. This can create the potential for risky behaviors the individual wouldn’t normally engage in, such as:
- Unprotected sex
- Sharing needles
These behaviors can cause:
- Bacterial or other infections
The long-term combination of cocaine and alcohol has even been linked to an increased risk of suicide.
Zinnia Healing Can Help
If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of alcohol abuse, cocaine abuse, or mixing these two substances, help is available. Reach out to us online or call us at (855) 430-9439 to speak with one of our specialists. Treatment options exist. The end of substance use begins with the first step, and Zinnia Healing can guide you through every next step on your road to recovery.