Substance Use

Mixing Heroin and Alcohol

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

whiskey and heroin syringe liquor bottle

Mixing Alcohol With Heroin: What Are the Dangers?

Mixing alcohol use with heroin can be a deadly combination. When these two substances are combined, they can slow down the respiratory system to the point of cessation. Mixing alcohol and heroin also amplifies the sedative effects of both drugs, increasing the risk of overdose. In addition, the combination can make it difficult to assess how much of each substance has been consumed, further increasing the chances of overdosing.

In this blog post, we’ll look at what heroin is, the dangers of mixing it with alcohol, and the long-term effects of this dangerous combination. We’ll also explore why people mix these two substances in the first place.

Addiction is a serious disease that can destroy lives. It doesn’t discriminate, affecting people of every age group, including young adults and adolescents. If you are struggling with drug abuse or addiction, talk to a health professional as soon as possible. When left untreated, addiction can lead to health problems, job loss, financial ruin, and even death.

To learn more about your treatment options, call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439.

Heroin: What Is It? 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug made from morphine. It is typically sold as a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance known as “black tar heroin.” Heroin can be smoked, injected, or snorted. When it is injected, it is usually dissolved in water and then injected into the veins. Smoking involves inhaling heroin vapor or smoke through a pipe. Snorting involves sniffing powdered heroin through the nose.

Short-term effects of this illicit drug include slowed breathing and impaired mental function. Heroin use can also lead to overdose and death.

Mixing Alcohol and Heroin: What Happens?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns against polysubstance use, using two or more substances together or within a short period.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, the prevalence of polysubstance use is high. People also combine alcohol and binge drinking with:

  • Stimulants like methamphetamine
  • Hallucinogens like LSD
  • Inhalants
  • Prescription drugs like codeine or oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • PCP

Mixing alcohol and heroin is particularly dangerous because the two substances have a synergistic effect on the body. This means that the combined influence of the two drugs is greater than the sum of the individual effects. In other words, when alcohol and heroin are mixed, they potentiate each other’s toxicity.

Due to how alcohol and heroin affect the brain, the intoxication that results from mixing them is much more intense than using just one of them on their own. Both alcohol and heroin are central nervous system depressants, which can cause similar adverse side effects. Combining the two substances raises the risk factor of a user having a negative effect.

Short-term effects may include:

Respiratory depression reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain. This can cause a person to pass out or even die. Additionally, both drugs can cause vomiting, and when mixed, this effect is amplified. The risk of choking on one’s own vomit is increased when heroin and alcohol are used together.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol and Heroin?

People mix alcohol and heroin for different reasons.

Some people mix the two substances because they believe they will make them more intoxicated. Others mix alcohol and heroin because they think it will help to offset the side effects of one or the other drug. Others may be unaware of the dangers of mixing the two substances and do so inadvertently.

However, mixing alcohol and heroin is extremely dangerous regardless of the reason and can increase the risk of an opioid overdose.

What Heroin Does to the Body

Heroin affects the brain by binding to opioid receptors. This binding effect increases the level of dopamine in the brain, which produces a feeling of pleasure. The effects of heroin include feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and sedation.

However, opioids like heroin also cause many other changes in the brain. For example, over time, they can start to inhibit dopamine. Inhibiting dopamine release can result in feelings of sadness and depression and make it difficult to experience pleasure from activities that were once enjoyable.

Long-Term Effects of Using Heroin

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug that enters the brain quickly, causing a sudden euphoria.

However, the effects of heroin are not limited to the immediate gratification of the user. In fact, heroin use can have lasting consequences on physical and mental health.

The most serious risk associated with heroin use is overdose. Opiates slow breathing and heart rate and the consequences can be fatal. Even first-time users are at risk of overdose since it is difficult to know the purity of the drug or how their bodies will react. In addition to the risk of overdose, chronic heroin use can lead to cognitive impairments, liver disease, and collapsed veins.

Regular drug users can develop a tolerance, meaning they need larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect. Injecting heroin also carries a risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Long-term use of heroin can also lead to miscarriages and heart infections. 

Impact on Mental Health

While the physical risks of long-term heroin use are well-known, the mental risks are often overlooked. Prolonged heroin use can lead to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. It can also cause changes in personality and mood swings. These effects can be particularly damaging in young people because their brains are still developing.

A substance use disorder is a complex condition that can be difficult to overcome without professional help. Many people struggling with drug use also have other mental health disorders, which complicates treatment. Additionally, the shame and stigma associated with addiction make it hard to reach out for help.

However, it’s important to remember that addiction is a disease, and professional treatment can be very effective. In fact, research shows that people who join a treatment program for substance abuse or alcohol use disorder are more likely to recover than those who try to quit on their own. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to seek help.

Call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439.

Zinnia Healing Can Help

If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse or an opioid use disorder, you know just how hard it can be. The cravings are constant, and staying sober can be incredibly tough. Every day is a battle, but it’s one that you can win. Many inpatient and outpatient resources are available to help you, and there is no shame in seeking treatment. Zinnia Healing offers various substance abuse treatment services, including methadone and buprenorphine programs.

Contact Zinnia Healing today. Our clinicians are standing by, ready to help you start your journey to recovery.