Cocaine and alcohol abuse is common, especially in nightlife or party settings. However, combining these two substances is incredibly dangerous as the toxic effects of the substances amplify when abused concurrently. The likelihood of developing an addiction to both cocaine and alcohol also increases when both drugs are used in tandem.
Remember that many people struggle with drug abuse, but many also overcome it. You are not alone, and your addiction does not define you. With appropriate support, help, and guidance, your addiction can be beaten.
Substance abuse is the medical term given to the repeated use of drugs despite the negative consequences to your health and well-being. In contrast, substance use disorder is the name for the condition that encompasses drug abuse in its milder form and drug addiction in its more severe form.
Some signs of drug dependence to look out for include:
Cocaine is a stimulant drug derived from the coca plant grown in South America. It affects the central nervous system and leaves users feeling alert and energized. Like other drugs, cocaine can be administered by snorting, smoking, or injecting the various forms it is widely available in, which include:
Often, those who sell cocaine mix the powder form with additives such as talcum powder or other drugs, making it even more hazardous.
As with many other drugs, cocaine use can lead to physical and psychological side effects, such as:
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that encompasses unsafe patterns of alcohol use. Medical professionals categorize AUD into three different classifications: mild, moderate, and severe.
An unhealthy relationship with alcohol characterizes mild AUDs. For example, those with a mild AUD may often binge drink but can stop drinking when desired. In contrast, a severe AUD refers to an alcohol addiction, which arises when a user has become dependent on alcohol consumption and experiences withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.
Quitting alcohol when a severe AUD is present can have several side effects. For this reason, quitting should never be attempted without medical supervision.
Alcohol is a depressant drug, meaning that it slows functions in the central nervous system – this is the opposite effect of cocaine. Alcohol interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, causing many people to feel relaxed and calm.
Drinking alcohol can have the following short-term effects:
Taking cocaine and alcohol together is a common form of polydrug abuse. There is a myth that many people believe that states taking cocaine and alcohol together enhances the high and mitigates withdrawal, balancing each other out. However, this is an incredibly toxic mixture to consume and comes with many serious side effects.
New elements are created when combining cocaine and alcohol, with the most potent being a metabolite called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene toxicity targets major organs, including the liver and heart, increasing the risk of liver damage and a heart attack. Due to being more potent than alcohol or cocaine separately, cocaethylene’s toxic effects are longer lasting as it stays in the body for a more extended period and is stronger.
Cocaine and cocaethylene boost serotonin and dopamine levels, which are neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness. This can increase the risk of substance use disorder as it makes both substances more addictive and blocks their reuptake. Due to the effects of the stimulant, this can result in anxiety, panic attacks, depression, violent thoughts, and aggressive behavior.
In addition to the above, taking cocaine and alcohol simultaneously often increases alcohol consumption. Likewise, cocaine and alcohol use can lead to a dependence on both drugs and a craving for the other when one is taken alone.
Mixing cocaine and alcohol can also put many users at risk of a stroke because the combination of substances increases heart rate, blood pressure, and the risk of blood clots. The combination also shrinks blood vessels and can cause sudden brain bleeding. As cocaethylene remains in the body for weeks after mixing cocaine and alcohol, the risk of stroke is even greater.
When mixing cocaine and alcohol, the body’s blood pressure elevates. When used alone, alcohol and cocaine cause blood pressure to spike. As a result, when they are combined, blood pressure increases even more.
High blood pressure is dangerous for your health because, if left untreated, it can lead to a number of serious health conditions, some of which include:
Right now, you might feel worried, overwhelmed, or as if your addiction has taken control of your life. Fortunately, help is available. Regardless of how severe your addiction may seem, your alcohol and cocaine use can be treated and overcome.
If you are dependent on cocaine and alcohol, you will need to complete a medical detox under the strict guidance of medical professionals who will ensure that you overcome your physical addiction safely and effectively.
You will then need to enroll in a rehab program, which will enable you to work on defeating your psychological dependence and understand the root causes of your drug addiction. During rehabilitation, you will learn healthy coping mechanisms and ways to deal with anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders once the effects of cocaine and alcohol reduce. Enrolling in a therapy program, such as individual, group, or art therapy, can help you focus on your long-term recovery and obtain support and professional advice.
Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA) can also help you connect with people in a similar position. This will help you feel less isolated in your journey, which will enable you to stay on the path toward a sober, healthy future. Having a strong sober support network, be it through friends or other groups, will be vital at this time. Likewise, lifestyle changes such as exercise, healthy eating, sober activities, yoga, and meditation can all also aid you in recovery.
When you mix cocaine and alcohol, it produces toxic substances that can lead to short and long-term health problems such as cardiovascular issues, stroke, cancer, and death. Abusing the two substances together can also increase the risk of addiction and produce toxic levels of cocaethylene in your body.
The good news is that treatment for cocaine and alcohol use is available. Talking to a loved one about your problem will help you kickstart your recovery journey and feel less alone. Professional detox and rehab will help you to break free from your addiction and go on to live a healthy, fulfilled life.
Contact our team to find out how we can help you