Drugs are often combined with other drugs to increase the effect of a drug, prolong a high, or come down from a high. Whether or not stimulants are combined with stimulants, depressants with depressants, or stimulants with depressants, the results can often shock the nervous system, resulting in heart failure, respiratory problems, or even multiple organ failure. However, the most popular form of mixing drugs has been the use of alcohol with another drug.
Although any American over the age of 21 is legally permitted to drink, alcohol by itself can be a dangerous drug. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that alcohol is responsible for 88,000 death each year in the US. It works in the brain by affecting GABA, a neurotransmitter that lowers central nervous system activity.
Alcohol with Illegal Drugs
The quest to mix drugs itself is often done as a dare at a party or club that is somewhat like riding a bull for less than 10 seconds and experiencing extreme emotions like fear and exhilaration. There is also the thrill of the possibility of hitting a new high, reaching a new state of ecstasy. The reality of this game, however, is different. The probability of suddenly becoming ill or dying are just as possible as achieving a heightened high. At these events alcohol may be mixed with marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, mushrooms, Ecstasy, LSD, and PCP.
Alcohol with Legal Drugs
While alcohol may kill indirectly by causing reckless behavior and overdosing on it merely makes one either vomit or pass out, when it is combined with other drugs, it can create all sorts of unexpected reactions when unintentionally combined with commonly taken medications. In fact, alcohol can even work adversely with caffeine.
Here are a dozen harmful drug cocktails that may be accidentally taken:
- 1. Mixing alcohol with barbiturates like Luminal and Pentothal.
- 2. Mixing alcohol with dissociative anesthetics like DXM, PCP, and ketamine.
- 3. Mixing alcohol with a narcotic sedative like GHB, Sonata, Lunesta, Ambien, doxylamine, and melatonin.
- 4. Mixing alcohol with opiates like fentanyl, Demerol, OxyContin, Dilaudid, Percocet, heroin, morphine, Vicodin, and codeine.
- 5. Mixing alcohol with benzodiazepines like Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Rohypnol, Versed, and Halcio.
- 6. Mixing alcohol with SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa.
- 7. Mixing alcohol with antihistamines like Allegra and Benadryl.
- 8. Mixing alcohol with MAOI antidepressants like Parnate, Marplan, and Nardil.
- 9. Mixing alcohol with tricyclic antidepressants like Adapin, Prothiaden, Tryptomer, Pamelor, Tofranil, Anafranil, and amitriptyline.
- 10. Mixing alcohol with antipsychotics or neuroleptics like Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Latuda, and Saphris.
- 11. Mixing alcohol with pain relieving medications like paracetamol and acetaminophen.
- 12. Mixing alcohol with stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine.
This article by Axis Residential Treatment describes what happens when benzodiazepines like Valium are combined with alcohol.
Alcohol combined with illegal or legal drug can cause a wide range of symptoms.
Mild symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and dizziness
Severe symptoms include coma and sedation. Death, too, is possible.
CNS depressants are often used to help with insomnia, and they often do not work well with alcohol.
Sometimes, the damage caused by mixing alcohol and other drugs is not immediately seen. Pain relievers combined with alcohol work slowly to damage the stomach lining, resulting in stomach bleeding.
Often, at a party, alcohol may be combined, accidentally or intentionally, with recreational drugs that have been legalized like marijuana. At times, the reactions are mild like dizziness, difficulty with coordination. At times, they can be more severe like extreme anxiety, even paranoia. And at times, they can cause violent illness like nausea and vomiting.
Even alcohol and coffee may not work well together. People may either get a false sense of alertness or do something risky like drive home or if they are in poor health may stress their heart and cause heart problems.
Three False Beliefs
When people think of poly-drug use, they often tend to make three dangerous assumptions:
One, that a drug may not be harmful if it has been sanctioned by law. Alcohol, for example, is often drunk socially and marijuana is often considered a therapeutic drug legalized by many states because it can help with certain medical conditions.
Two, that illness or fatality with drug use is always a result of deliberate action, usually drinking too much at a party or mixing alcohol with an illegal drug.
Three, that medications should not be considered drugs, because they have been prescribed by a physician or can even be bought off the shelf.
These false beliefs can result in a lack of caution, sometimes leading to death. Singer Jimi Hendrix may have died by combining alcohol with sleeping pills while multimillionaire Herbalife founder Mark Reynold Hughes is reported to have died by combining a drinking binge with doxepin.