27 Jun The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Drugs


Alcohol is a depressant and mixing it with other drugs will have one of three results:

  • An additive reaction is when the two drugs work along the same pathways in the body, doubling the effects.
  • A synergistic reaction is when the combination of the drugs is greater than the two combined. (for example, 1+1=3)
  • In an antagonistic reaction, the effects of one or more of the drugs is at least partially cancelled out.

An additive or synergistic reaction can lead to overdose and increased side effects. An antagonistic reaction can render medications ineffective when taken with alcohol and can increase the medicine's side effects.

Alcohol and Prescription Drugs
It’s impossible to know exactly what the effect of mixing a certain drug with alcohol will be, since it depends partially on the person's metabolism. When mixing alcohol with prescription drugs, a person risks increasing the effects of the alcohol, the other drug, or both. If you are taking a medication that you need to maintain your health, the alcohol could reduce the medication’s effects or heighten them, either of which puts your life at risk.

Mixing alcohol with prescription drugs can produce dangerous side effects such as increased drowsiness, internal bleeding, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, confusion, loss of coordination, and the list goes on and on. The same is true for over-the-counter and herbal remedies. Mixing alcohol with another depressant is especially dangerous because it can lead to respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, and death.

Alcohol and Illicit Drugs
Just like with prescription drug use, mixing alcohol with illegal drugs can cause unpredictable reactions. When alcohol mixes with cocaine in the liver, it produces a third chemical called cocaethylene. Among other complications, cocaethylene has been linked to heart attack, even in very young people. When alcohol is mixed with ecstasy, it causes severe, life-threatening dehydration. Mixing alcohol with heroin can lead to depression of the central nervous system and death. Marijuana suppresses the body’s natural vomiting reflex, which can lead to alcohol poisoning when a person drinks too much. Nearly every drug produces even more dangerous effects when mixed with alcohol. In addition to this, having an alcohol addiction increases the likelihood that you will form an addiction to other drugs.

Alcohol and Caffeine
One current trend is to mix alcohol with energy drinks such as Red Bull that contain caffeine and other stimulants. Mixing alcohol with caffeine can be dangerous because alcohol increases the effects of the caffeine. Alcohol is a depressant, but its effects can’t be as easily felt when mixed with caffeine. This can cause a person to drink more than they normally would, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and alcohol poisoning. Other side effects of mixing caffeine and alcohol include cardiovascular problems, nose bleeds, trouble breathing, vomiting, insomnia, severe dehydration and death.

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