Mixing Alcohol and Drugs

People drink alcohol for several reasons. Some may drink to cope, while others may simply stick to light social drinking. While those self-medicating should use the help of our West Palm beach rehab, even one glass of wine can be riddled with problems when mixed with something it shouldn’t be.

Dangers of Mixing Drugs & Alcohol

Depending upon the specific combination, when you mix alcohol with other drugs, the alcohol may magnify or diminish the other drug’s effects to a dangerous extent. Even mixing alcohol with drugs that are benign like Tylenol or antihistamines can trigger unintended side effects that may have a negative impact on a person’s health. Sometimes when alcohol is mixed with prescription drugs, it may also severely diminish the drug’s desired effects. It is best to avoid mixing alcohol and drugs altogether to avoid any unintentional and sometimes even fatal consequences.

Although mixing alcohol and drugs has proven to produce unpredictable and sometimes fatal results, many Americans engage in this double-edged sword of substance abuse. In 2010 alone, 339,721 Americans were treated for alcohol abuse in conjunction with a secondary drug.1 Unfortunately, this does not include everyone who was unable to get help before it was too late. This issue seems to be most prominent with the youth as many young adults and teenagers are not only binge drinking but also experimenting with drugs. The majority of this hospitalized group from 2010 fell between the ages of 18 and 30.1 One of the biggest problems with these trends may be the lack of knowledge on the effects and severity of drugs mixed with alcohol.

Mixing Alcohol & Amphetamines

The mixture of alcohol and amphetamines poses many hidden dangers and health risks. Amphetamines are psycho-stimulants that drastically increase central nervous system activity and cause the user to feel anxious, restless, and wound up. They include a variety of drug like methamphetamine, Dexedrine, and Adderall. When these drugs are mixed with alcohol, a depressant, the immediate effects are slowed and diminished. Because of these delayed and diminished effects, the result may be addiction from increased doses or tragedies like a coma or accidental overdose.

Some other side effects of an amphetamine and alcohol interaction may include:

  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Intestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme paranoia and psychosis
  • Spasms
  • Migraine
  • Hallucinations
  • Delayed motor skills
  • Kidney disease
  • Self-harm

In particular, some people may mix alcohol and Adderall without realizing the dangerous consequences. Adderall is a popular amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and it often sold on the street to help people without prescriptions focus. While it is used for medicinal purposes, Adderall and drinking should not mix. A person can take as little as one Adderall pill while drinking and wind up hospitalized for severe effects like intestinal distress or other medical complications. If you are on Adderall and an alcoholic, it is important to get alcohol abuse treatment before the interaction between Adderall and alcohol leads to dangerous effects.

Mixing Alcohol & Benzos

While mixing alcohol and drugs like amphetamine can decrease the effects of the drug, mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines or benzos can exasperate the effects of the drug. Benzodiazepines, or “benzos”, are a family of sedatives or minor tranquilizers that are designed to treat insomnia, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. When these drugs are mixed with alcohol, they can intensely magnify alcohol’s depressive effects and place users in serious physical and emotional jeopardy. Some of the benzodiazepines most commonly abused in conjunction with alcohol, include Xanax, Ativan, and Valium. One of the largest issues with prescribing benzodiazepines for legitimate illness is determining a patient’s level and frequency of alcohol consumption.

Some possible effects of mixing alcohol and benzos include:

  • Migraines
  • Impaired judgement
  • Decreased motor skills
  • Decreased response time
  • Depression
  • Intense nausea
  • Impaired breathing
  • Esophageal damage
  • Slowed or stopped function of kidneys, liver, brain, or heart
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Not only can mixing benzos and alcohol dramatically depress the central nervous system, but also the impaired judgment and motor skills could lead to fatal accidents like car crashes or falls. Despite considerable evidence to demonstrate the dangers of combing alcohol and benzos, this problem remains one of the most common causes of intoxication-related hospital admissions and accidents. Benzos can also be addictive themselves, so if you are struggling with an addiction to both substances, it is important to get a supervised detox like with our South Florida detox center.

Mixing Alcohol & Opioids

Mixing alcohol and drugs of any kind is dangerous, but alcohol’s interaction with opioids can be deadly and lead to hundreds of accidental overdoses a year. Opioids are a class of powerful synthetic and natural drugs derived from the opium plant and are commonly used in the treatment of acute pain-related injury. Opioids include substances like morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, codeine, methadone, heroin and prescription painkillers. While some of theses substances may be prescribed, when opioids are mixed with alcohol, they can further inhibit activity in the central nervous system. Additionally, drinking can dramatically increase the general urge for opioids.

People often start off abusing alcohol and opioids because of the calming and relaxing effects of both drugs. Many fail to realize the extreme dangers that come with simultaneous ingestion. The widespread proliferation of prescription painkiller abuse combined with the national alcoholism epidemic has made the combination of opioids and drinking one of the fastest-growing addiction problems in the country.

While the exact effects are unpredictable, some possible effects of mixing alcohol and opioids include:

  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Poor judgment
  • Decreased motor skills
  • Severe headaches or migraines
  • Hallucinations
  • Organ malfunction
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Respiratory problems or failure

Whether or not opioids and alcohol are mixed, these drug alone can also be dangerous. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction problem, our opioid and painkiller treatment programs may be able to help.

Treatment for Concurrent Substance Abuse Problems

Whether mixing alcohol and drugs that are illegal or alcohol and prescription medications, mixing alcohol with drugs of any kind can lead to untold consequences. It is important to avoid unnecessary interactions and get help if an addiction to one or more of theses substances is present.

At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, our doctors and care professionals are skilled and experienced in the treatment of concurrent addiction problems and help clients defeat their simultaneous drug and alcohol addiction in an effective, responsible and compassionate manner. The treatment of concurrent drug and alcohol addiction can often be too much for many treatment facilities to adequately manage. The instinct of many is to treat the problem as two addictions, rather than a complex, interwoven, mental disorder. No matter what particular combination of drugs and alcohol has led to the development of addiction, we want to help you or your loved one break free of them.

 

Sources:

  1. Indiana Association for Addiction Professionals – March 2015 Newsletter

 

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