The Danger of Mixing Alcohol With Other Drugs
Alcohol is known for its depressing effects on anyone who drinks it. As a central nervous system depressant, excessive alcohol consumption of alcohol can have side effects including quickly slowing down brain and muscle activity. In many cases, people under the influence of alcohol tend to mix it up with other drugs for recreational purposes.
When mixed with other drugs, alcohol creates different drug interactions resulting in short term and long term side effects. For instance, when paired with depressants, the relaxing and numbing effects are magnified. When mixed with stimulants, a contradictory reaction takes place as both substances race towards having the most dominant effect.
There is a considerable risk associated with mixing alcohol with other drugs. Therefore, people with alcohol abuse disorder must tell their physician about such habits before getting any prescription drugs.
Alcohol and Nicotine
A large number of alcoholics are also chain smokers. Nicotine and alcohol are highly correlated because they have a similar effect on the brain. Alcohol supplements the rewarding effect of nicotine.
In the United States alone, 46 million adults engage in both drinking and smoking. In addition, 6.2 million are suffering from alcohol use disorder and nicotine addiction.
There are several behavioral links between drinking alcohol and nicotine. First, people with alcohol use disorder are three times more likely to become smokers. Furthermore, smokers are four times more prone to progressing to alcoholism.
Alcohol and Cocaine
Mixing alcohol with illicit drugs like cocaine is also dangerous. A combination of alcohol and cocaine produces an intense feeling greater than when any of the two solely used alone. Both substances race towards creating the dominant effect on the person.
Cocaine is an illicit stimulant while alcohol has a depressing effect. As such, the interaction between the two drugs creates a psychoactive effect in the brain of the user. This is usually a mixture of euphoric and relaxing feelings.
Combining alcohol and cocaine is highly addictive and poses a great threat to a person’s health. Through their interaction, a toxic compound referred to as cocaethylene is created. The compound can result in increasing the risk of heart and lung damage.
Other health risks include:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Constriction of blood vessels in the brain
- Internal bleeding of the brain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Greater risk of heart diseases
Alcohol and Opioids
Alcohol and opioids induce a depressant action on the brain and body. Mixing alcohol with heroin or a prescription medication like oxycodone can slow down both brain and muscle functions at a greater magnitude.
Doing this on a regular basis can lead to detrimental health effects such as heart and lung failure, paralysis, and death.
Alcohol and Cannabis
Alcohol and Marijuana are considered “downers” because of their relaxing effect. Combining these two drugs poses significant health risks including death.
Cannabis has an antiemetic effect meaning that it is capable of inhibiting nausea and vomiting. When a person drinks too much alcohol, they vomit in order to release the excess alcohol.
Unfortunately, due to the antiemetic effect of cannabis, the excess alcohol is trapped in the gut.
Other effects of combining the two substances are:
- High absorption of THC in the blood. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis.
- Elevated anxiety levels
Alcohol and Antidepressants
Antidepressants treat depression, working in opposite ways with alcohol. Alcohol counteracts the effect of the medications used to treat depression. As a result, the person tends to drink more alcohol in order to overpower the other substance.
The United States has reported a high incidence of alcohol use disorder. There has also been an increasing rate of antidepressant use in the country. In figurative times, there has been a 65% increase in antidepressant use from 1999 to 2014.
Some of the common effects of mixing alcohol and antidepressants include:
- Elevated levels of depression and anxiety which is one of Alcohol’s major side effects.
- Increase in blood pressure since alcohol increases blood pressure when mixed with specific types of antidepressants.
- Decrease in mental functions such as focus, coordination between senses and muscles, and reaction to stimuli.
- Sleepiness and lethargy
Alcohol and Anticonvulsants
Anticonvulsants are medications for people with seizure disorders. Some of these medications have active ingredients belonging to the benzodiazepine or barbiturates group.
Some of the most common reactions when mixing alcohol with anticonvulsants include:
- Magnified depressing action of anticonvulsant drugs belonging to the benzodiazepine group by alcohol.
- Higher risk for the occurrence of seizures
- Higher chances of inducing depression and anxiety
Alcohol and Antibiotics
Antibiotics are used to treat contagious diseases. Generally, it is not recommended to drink alcohol when taking these medications. The serious side effects associated with the interaction between the two substances.
When taking antibiotics such as metronidazole and tinidazole, a person should avoid taking alcohol. Combining the two results in stomach pains, hot flushes, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and drowsiness. Metronidazole is an antibiotic used to treat vaginal or dental infections, and leg ulcers. Tinidazole is used to treat gut infections.
Other antibiotics that should not be taken alongside alcohol include furoxone, gristacin, flagyl, atabrine, linezolid, and doxycycline.
The side effects of mixing alcohol with antibiotics include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Reduced effectivity of the medicine
Alcohol and Antihistamines
Antihistamines are mostly used to treat allergies. Drinking alcohol while taking antihistamine drugs can aggravate drowsiness and sleepiness.
In addition, taking alcohol inhibits the medicinal action of these drugs. It’s because the body begins with processing the alcohol first before the drugs.
Alcohol and Antidiabetic Drugs
Drinking alcohol is prohibited for people taking antidiabetic drugs. This is because it inhibits the functions of the drugs.
Some of the common interactions when alcohol is mixed with these kinds of medications are mentioned below:
High alcohol levels in the body inhibits the liver’s function in regulating blood sugar
Combining alcohol with antidiabetic drugs such as metformin, oral diabetic medicine, can lead to lactic acidosis. This is a condition of excessive build-up of lactic acid in the blood due to lack of dissolved oxygen. Alcohol also alters the standard action of insulin in the body.
It is necessary for individuals to understand these interactions between alcohol and other substances. This is to avoid situations that put their lives at risk.