Why Mixing Alcohol and Drugs Is Often So Deadly
Everyone knows that excessive alcohol use is harmful and can even cause death. The same goes for drug abuse. However, people are still dying from combining alcohol and drugs, simply because there is a lack of education on just how lethal the combination is.
No matter what the drug, when mixed with alcohol, the chances of a fatal overdose skyrocket. An overdose happens to innocent people who don’t recognize the harm in mixing a prescription with a few glasses of wine. Other overdoses happen to active drug addicts who think they can tolerate a certain amount. Bottom line is that overdose can happen to anyone.
Alcohol and Drugs Create a Lethal Combination
What many people fail to understand is that alcohol and drugs, in any amount, is lethal. A person doesn’t need to take an extraordinary amount for an overdose to occur. There is no magic number that sends a person to the point of no return. There is a different tipping point for everyone, based tolerance level and even diet.
Mixing alcohol and drugs is a bad idea no matter what the drug is. Even over the counter drugs like certain pain medication can cause acute liver failure if ingested with alcohol. People often ignore these warning and later live to regret the ill effects. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies put these warnings on bottles for a reason, not just to take up space.
Alcohol and Pharmaceuticals
From simple antibiotics to benzos and painkillers, many pharmaceuticals come with a warning to avoid or abstain from alcohol consumption in combination with the medication. Do not underestimate the lethality of this combination. If a person regularly consumes alcohol and thinks they may have trouble staying away from a drink, they should discuss other options with their doctor.
Prescription medications carry a false sense of security because a doctor prescribes them. For this reason, many people view them as a more “sensible” way to get high. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, there were nearly 20,000 opioid prescription painkiller deaths in 2014. It isn’t a joke. Most of these people had no intention of dying, and may not even have even taken much over the prescribed amount. It can happen to anyone, anytime.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs are benzos and opioids. Benzos like Xanax and Klonopin are medications used to treat anxiety. Opioids consist of painkillers like Vicodin and oxycontin. Either are lethal when mixed with alcohol at any dose.
The reason these drugs are lethal in combination with alcohol is simple. Both drugs and alcohol work to suppress the central nervous system. Breathing slows down, motor skills lapse, speech is slurred, and brain function slows. In an overdose, the breath will slow down to the point where a person eventually stops breathing. Without oxygen, the brain and other organs will slowly start to fail, leading to permanent damage, coma, and death.
Alcohol and Illegal Drugs
It’s no surprise that illegal drugs are bad. Mixed with alcohol, they become worse. There are different kinds of illegal drugs available, and each of them has a different reaction with alcohol. Some drugs, like cocaine, are known to be popularly combined with alcohol. Other times, alcohol can lead to the abuse of drugs like heroin, especially if the person has had a problem with heroin in their past.
Alcohol and cocaine create a unique chemical occurrence in the body that few people are aware of. This chemical is called cocaethylene. It is formed in the liver when alcohol and cocaine are ingested at the same time.
The two overwhelm the liver, which is then unable to eliminate either substance properly. While creating an even more euphoric effect than if either substance was taken alone, this chemical triggers a number of potentially life-threatening health risks like a heart attack or sudden death.
When people think of a heroin overdose, they usually picture the slow decline of an intravenous drug user. They picture them pumping themselves full of drugs until eventually, their body can’t take it anymore. What most people don’t know is that more that 70% of lethal heroin overdoses occur when the drug is mixed with alcohol.
Both heroin and alcohol are depressants, and taking a double dose has deadly effects. The depressants work together to slow down the heartbeat and breath, causing the individual to cease breathing. The brain begins to die within minutes of being cut off from oxygen. Thanks to opioid overdose reversal drugs like Narcan, overdoses can be saved if caught in time. Unfortunately, people often overdose alone and without anyone around to help them they become another statistic.
Alcohol and Drugs. Just Don’t Do It.
The human body is incredibly strong, but life is extremely fragile. When combining drugs and alcohol, a person is playing Russian roulette with their own life. Even if they have combined the two a hundred times in the past, the real possibility of overdose still exists.
For people who are newly prescribed any medication, be sure to speak to a doctor about the ill effects of drinking alcohol. For those addicted to drugs, getting help is essential to avoid becoming another drug overdose statistic.