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The Risk of Combining Stimulants and Opioids

Combining stimulants and opioids can be extremely dangerous, leading to severe impacts on an individual’s health and wellness. These drugs, on their own, have very different effects. Oftentimes, people use them in conjunction with one another to balance out, or heighten, the effects of each substance. This can lead to permanent damage, and can even lead to death. It is a dangerous practice and those who struggle with these substances should seek professional help to overcome the struggle.

Stimulants and Opioid Overview

When someone is combining stimulants and opioids, they are often unaware of the risks involved. Understanding each substance and how it can affect someone can help these individuals begin a happier, healthier lifestyle. Stimulants are highly addictive substances that increase alertness, attention, and energy levels. They enhance certain neurotransmitters within the brain such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

The effects of stimulants can include a sense of euphoria, as well as heightened confidence and focus. This plays a role in their illicit recreational use. Opioids have the opposite effect on an individual. These substances act upon the opioid receptors in the brain, making them effective in the treatment of mild to moderate pain.  They produce feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, and sedation. These substances can be extremely dangerous and addictive. 

What are the Side Effects When Combined?

The practice of combining stimulants and opioids can be dangerous and lead to life-altering or deadly results. Stimulants such as cocaine increase activity in the central nervous system (CNS). Opioids have the opposite effect.

They depress the CNS. When these two substances are combined, it can lead to cardiovascular complications including irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, as well as increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Other effects that may occur can include overdose due to the heightened energy and alertness masking the effect opioids can have, leading to greater doses being used. 

Short-Term Effects

Short term, mixing these substances can cause a sense of euphoria, reduced pain perception, and increased energy. However, using substances such as methamphetamines and heroin together can also lead to respiratory depression, confusion, agitation, and seizures. It can cause severe strain on an individual’s heart and breathing, leading to overdose. 

Long-Term Effects

Long term, combining stimulants and opioids can lead to severe health complications. Heart problems, liver issues, and kidney damage can be a direct result of using these substances in conjunction with one another. Continued, or chronic use of these substances can lead to addiction.

Addiction leads to severe withdrawal symptoms when the substances are not introduced to the system. This practice can also contribute to exacerbated mental health conditions

What are Stimulants?

Stimulants are substances that act on the CNS, a system in the human body responsible for several vital functions such as breathing and movement. They increase brain activity, alertness, and focus. They have legitimate medical purposes and can help in the treatment of ADHD. However, combining stimulants and opioids or other substances can lead to devastating results. 

Types and Names

Amphetamines are one type of stimulant drug often used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. Adderall is commonly prescribed to aid in helping those with these conditions to focus and be productive. However, it is also commonly used illicitly to get high. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that was originally used in bronchial inhalers. However, there are no real current medical uses.

What are Opioids?

On the other hand, opioids are CNS depressants. These drugs can cause respiratory depression, slurred speech, and sedation. Opioid painkillers are often prescribed for the treatment of acute to chronic pain due to injury or medical conditions. However, much like stimulants, these drugs are often used illicitly to feel high.

Types and Names

Common opioids used include natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic forms. Natural opioids are derived from the opium poppy plant. These include medications such as morphine and codeine.

Semi-synthetic opioids include oxycodone and hydrocodone, ingredients found in substances like OxyContin and Vicodin. Synthetic opioids are completely man-made. Heroin and fentanyl are two of the most commonly abused synthetic opioids. They are both extremely dangerous and often lead to overdose and death.

Are Stimulants or Opioids More Dangerous?

There is no real clear-cut answer to this question. Both are highly addictive and both carry extreme risks. They can lead to organ damage, risky behaviors, overdose, and death. The dangers associated with each drug class differ. The risks can depend on the substance used, dosage, potency, and method of use. They are both extremely dangerous, and proper professional care can help with overcoming addiction to them.

Stimulant Withdrawal and Detox

Stimulant withdrawal can be severely uncomfortable. Often, the symptoms can make an individual return to using to alleviate them, starting the cycle all over again. Detox can help make this process easier, allowing for successful recovery. 


Many factors play a role in how the withdrawal will make a person feel, as well as how long it will last. However, there is a simple timeline that can shed some light on the process. The symptoms can begin within a few hours from the last use. Symptoms at this point can include fatigue, increased appetite, and mood swings.

Within the first couple of days, the symptoms will begin to peak, making it difficult to stay the course. By days 3-5, the symptoms will peak, and intense cravings, depression and anxiety may begin. Over the following weeks, these symptoms begin to subside and can go away altogether.

Opioid Withdrawal and Detox

Opioid withdrawal can be excruciatingly uncomfortable. The physical withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other symptoms can include depression, anxiety, muscle aches and cramps, insomnia, and restlessness.

These symptoms should be monitored to prevent complications, and detox can help with this. Combining stimulants and opioids can complicate the process of withdrawal, which is why it is highly suggested to be monitored through this process.

Overcoming Stimulant and Opioid Addiction

Struggling with opioids or stimulants on their own is a monster no one should have to endure. Combining the two substances can make the struggle that much harder. Often, people are unaware of the dangers and risks of these substances, as well as the help that is available to those who struggle. If you or a loved one are struggling with these substances, Empowered Recovery Center can help. We strive to provide a safe, healing environment for individuals to begin their recovery journey.

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