Alcohol is a depressant. It slows down your nervous system and can impair your ability to function, cause a lack of coordination, and lead to addiction. Mixing alcohol and drugs can be dangerous, if not fatal, regardless of whether the drugs are recreational, prescription, or over-the-counter. Alcohol should never be mixed with any type of medication without consulting a doctor. It can negate the effects of the drug, exacerbate the effects of the drug, or intensify the side effects of the drug. Drugs can also influence the effects of alcohol on the body, leading to health problems or death.
Below is some information about the effects of mixing alcohol and drugs. This is not a comprehensive list; if you or someone you know has a problem mixing alcohol and any drug, seek professional help.
Anxiety Drugs, Antipsychotic Drugs, and Antidepressants
Taking alcohol with an antidepressant may worsen the symptoms of the depression. If your depression gets worse, you may drink more in an attempt to elevate your mood, initiating a dangerous cycle. Drinking can also counteract the effects of your antidepressant and increase your risk of addiction.
Because many anti-anxiety medications are also depressants, mixing them with alcohol can cause a dangerous slowing of your organs and central nervous system. Your alertness and motor functions become impaired, and you may feel excessively tired. Mixing alcohol with other depressants can also lead to respiratory failure. When alcohol is consumed with a type of antidepressant called an MAOI, it can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure.
Taking nonnarcotic, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen with alcohol can increase the effects of the alcohol. It can also put you at an increased risk for ulcers and internal bleeding or cause kidney failure. Taking acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) while drinking can lead to liver damage.
If you take prescription painkillers like morphine or codeine, mixing them with alcohol can cause medical problems like liver damage, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, or death. Alcohol and many prescription pain killers are addictive, and taking them together could result in an addiction that is difficult to treat.
“It is easy to create a dangerous combination if you take cough syrup while consuming alcohol.”Even over-the-counter cough medicines can contain ingredients that react negatively with alcohol. Because every ingredient may not be listed on the medication, it is easy to create a dangerous combination if you take cough syrup while consuming alcohol. When taken recreationally, cough medicines are often administered at higher-than-recommended doses. Although this practice is dangerous alone, it can also lead to heart problems and respiratory distress.
GHB is a recreational drug that depresses the central nervous system. Users often take high doses to increase the intensity of the drug, and adding alcohol to the mix can exacerbate the side effects, causing vomiting and unconsciousness. If you combine GHB with alcohol, you could end up in a coma or die as a result of respiratory failure.
Using marijuana in conjunction with alcohol can make you drowsy and impair your coordination. You may feel the effects of both drugs more intensely than if you took each drug alone, and your judgment may become impaired. You may be more likely to drink more when you mix marijuana with alcohol.
What Are The Effects of Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol?
Cocaine is an extremely addictive illegal drug that acts as a central nervous system stimulant. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.
Although stimulants speed up the nervous system combining them with alcohol does not counteract the effects of both types of drugs. Taking MDMA (ecstasy) on its own can cause severe dehydration. Mixing it with alcohol can dangerous dehydrate you, leaving you with a bad hangover or organ damage. Because MDMA eliminates your inhibitions, you may drink more than usual when you combine the drugs, leading to alcohol poisoning.
Cocaine combines with alcohol in the body to form cocaethylene, a substance that increases the euphoric effects of the cocaine and can lead to liver failure. When a person drinks too much alcohol, he or she will get drowsy or pass out. This is the body’s way of trying to prevent a person from drinking enough to induce alcohol poisoning. Because cocaine offsets the fatigue induced by drinking, a person is more likely to drink more than his or her body can tolerate.
Similarly, caffeine is often mixed with alcohol to counteract its sedative effects. But if you don’t get drowsy after consuming a great deal of alcohol, you may be more likely to continue drinking, leading to alcohol poisoning and dehydration.
Mixing drugs and alcohol can cause major health issues or death, even after the first occurrence. People who regularly mix drugs and alcohol may be at a higher risk of developing a dependence on the drugs or the alcohol. There are many different resources available to help people with a drug or alcohol problem. Support groups, counseling, and rehabilitation programs are available to help drug users and their families. You can also call 1-800-861-9454 to find out more about resources for drug and alcohol treatment. This free, 24-hour referral hotline can guide you toward getting help with a substance abuse problem.