Why Cocaine and Alcohol Don’t Mix
Whether using cocaine on an occasional basis or every day, mixing cocaine and alcohol can spell big trouble for the diehard and casual drinker alike. Considering how these two substances seem to balance one another out in terms of experienced effects, it can be easy to indulge in both at the same time without really knowing how much is being ingested overall.
Ultimately, cocaine and alcohol don’t mix well as far as the brain and body go. In this respect, serious health complications can result. When carried out on a frequent basis, a person can easily find him or herself caught up in a web of “highs” and aftereffects that only professional drug treatment can address.
Cocaine & Alcohol: Stimulant vs. Depressant
Cocaine and alcohol produce effects that sit on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as the body’s brain and central nervous system (CNS) functions go. Cocaine acts as a stimulant, speeding up chemical processes in the brain and CNS, whereas alcohol has the opposite effect, slowing down brain and CNS functions.
According to the University of California-Santa Cruz, not only does this combination of effects disrupt the body’s chemical system, but also produces a third substance known as cocaethylene, which can be deadly in its effects. Whereas cocaine typically produces short-term effects, cocaethylene can remain in the bloodstream for up to five times longer.
Considering how cocaine and alcohol naturally smooth out another’s effects, users tend to ingest more of each substance when used together. This can lead to serious health consequences. Alcohol’s masking effect works to smooth out the rough edges once a cocaine “high” starts to wear off, which prompts more drinking. Likewise, a person is likely to feel less intoxicated when using cocaine.
Both of these scenarios can mislead users into thinking they’re less “high” than they really are. Someone in this condition may feel steady enough to get behind the wheel of a car when actually he or she is well above the legal alcohol limit. Since cocaine tends to mask alcohol’s effects, the potential for alcohol poisoning increases considerably.
Cocaine’s stimulant effects on the central nervous system come with a high risk of heart attack and stroke. According to Louisiana State School of Medicine-New Orleans, cocaethylene (the substance that forms when combining cocaine and alcohol) increases this risk twenty-five fold. This means, the risk of going into cardiac arrest is twenty-five times more likely when using cocaine and alcohol at the same time.
When cocaethylene remains in the bloodstream for long periods of time, other serious health complications can also develop, including:
- Liver damage
- Weakened immune system functions
- Immediate death
Long-Term Dangers & the Need for Treatment
As if the health consequences of combining cocaine and alcohol weren’t enough, both these substances carry a high potential for addiction. So someone who makes a habit of ingesting cocaine and alcohol on a regular basis can become addicted to both substances over time. Once addiction problems take hold, a person not only contends with declining health issues, but will also experience considerable emotional and psychological distress.
If you or someone you know struggles with cocaine and alcohol abuse and have more questions, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-736-5356 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.