Is Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol Dangerous?

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It is dangerous to mix cocaine and alcohol. The alcohol and cocaine mix triggers the production of cocaethylene, a highly toxic substance. This means that this blend of commonly abused substances is considered a potentially lethal combination.

What Happens When You Mix Cocaine and Alcohol?

When cocaine and alcohol are combined, they produce more harmful effects. The combination forms a potent metabolite called cocaethylene, which is more dangerous than either substance alone. It poses increased risks to the heart and liver, among other vital organs.

Cocaethylene remains in the body much longer than cocaine, prolonging its harmful effects. Alcohol further delays the elimination of another metabolite, ethylbenzoylecgonine, enhancing the levels of cocaine and cocaethylene in the blood.

The dual use of cocaine and alcohol significantly heightens the risk of stroke. Cocaine contributes to this risk by constricting blood vessels, elevating heart rate and blood pressure, causing spontaneous brain hemorrhages, and increasing the likelihood of blood clots. Cocaethylene’s extended presence in the body amplifies the stroke risk, too.

Some research suggests that alcohol can intensify cravings for cocaine, potentially leading to increased alcohol consumption. This can make it more challenging for people to discontinue use, sometimes engaging in binge drinking to prolong the effects and stave off withdrawal.

Both cocaine and cocaethylene boost brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin and stunt their reabsorption. This escalation in stimulant effects can result in impulsive, sometimes violent behavior, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.

The concurrent use of cocaine and alcohol is especially dangerous for heart health, increasing the toxicity to the heart and liver. The greatest immediate threat involves heart-related emergencies such as heart attacks or arrhythmias. Those with pre-existing heart conditions face even greater risks.

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Cocaine

In addition to the dangers triggered by cocaethylene, mixing alcohol and cocaine may lead to unpredictable and potentially life-threatening consequences. One of the most severe health risks of this combination is the heightened chance of cardiotoxicity, adversely affecting the heart and circulatory system. Even using stimulants alone can impact heart health, but combining this class of drugs with alcohol can intensify these dangers, potentially triggering cardiovascular complications that may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Heightened demand for oxygen by the heart muscles
  • Risk of heart attack
  • Possibility of stroke

In addition to cardiac issues, mixing stimulants and alcohol can lead to various other hazardous effects, which may include:

  • Disruptions in sleep patterns
  • Impaired cognitive functions, including difficulties with memory and verbal learning
  • Escalated cravings for drugs and an increase in substance use
  • An elevated risk of engaging in dangerous behaviors, such as driving while intoxicated, vehicle accidents, risky activities, and involvement in physical fights
  • The risk of sudden death
  • Increased likelihood of overdose

These combined effects illustrate why it is never advisable to mix alcohol and cocaine. Read on to find out how you can connect with evidence-based addiction treatment near you.

Alcohol and Cocaine Toxicity

The combination of alcohol and cocaine results in a significantly increased level of toxicity in the body, presenting serious health risks. This increased toxicity mainly stems from the formation of cocaethylene, a compound created when the liver processes both substances concurrently. Here’s a closer look at alcohol and cocaine toxicity:

  • The role of cocaethylene: This substance is more toxic than either alcohol or cocaine alone. Its formation amplifies the harmful effects on the body, particularly on the cardiovascular and hepatic systems.
  • Cardiovascular complications: The toxicity significantly elevates the risk of heart-related issues. This includes increased heart rate, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and a heightened risk of heart attacks and strokes. These effects are due to the increased stress on the cardiovascular system caused by the synergistic effects of alcohol and cocaine.
  • Liver damage: Both alcohol and cocaine are processed by the liver, and their combined use can lead to increased liver toxicity. This can result in liver damage or exacerbate existing liver conditions.
  • Neurological issues: The toxic combination can also impact brain function. It may lead to cognitive impairments, heightened anxiety, depressive symptoms, and an increased risk of neurological events like seizures or strokes.
  • Increased overdose risk: The presence of cocaethylene in the system can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, potentially leading people to consume higher amounts of both substances. This increases the risk of overdose and acute toxicity.
  • Behavioral changes: The combined use of alcohol and cocaine can lead to heightened impulsivity, risk-taking behaviors, and potential for violent actions. These behavioral changes are often a direct result of the neurological impact of these substances.
  • Complications during withdrawal: Regular use of both substances can lead to a heightened risk of dependence. Additionally, the withdrawal process can be more complicated and severe due to the combined effects of stimulant (cocaine) and depressant (alcohol) withdrawal symptoms.
  • Long-term health damage: Chronic use of alcohol and cocaine in combination can lead to long-term health issues, including chronic cardiovascular problems, persistent liver damage, and lasting neurological deficits.

Developing an awareness of the severe toxicity of mixing alcohol and cocaine can help mitigate the risks associated with this dangerous combination.

I Mixed Alcohol and Cocaine, What Should I Do?

If you have mixed alcohol and cocaine, here’s what to do:

1) Assess your condition

Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Look for symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe headache, confusion, or irregular heartbeat. These could be signs of a serious reaction requiring immediate medical attention.

2) Seek medical help if necessary

If you experience any severe symptoms or feel unwell, seek medical help immediately. Be honest with healthcare providers about what substances you have used, as this will help them provide the most effective treatment.

3) Stay hydrated and rest

If your symptoms are mild, try to stay hydrated by drinking water and rest in a safe environment. Avoid consuming more alcohol, cocaine, or other substances.

4) Avoid being alone

It’s advisable to have someone with you who can monitor your condition and seek help if your condition worsens.

5) Monitor for delayed reactions

Sometimes, the effects of mixing these substances can be delayed. Remain vigilant for any developing symptoms.

6) Avoid driving or operating machinery

Your judgment, motor skills, and reaction time may be impaired. Do not drive or engage in activities that require alertness.

7) Consider long-term help

If you frequently mix alcohol and cocaine, consider seeking help for substance abuse. This could involve counseling, rehabilitation programs, or support groups.

8) Educate yourself

Learn about the risks of mixing alcohol and cocaine. Understanding the dangers can be a deterrent to future use.

9) Develop a safety plan

If you continue to use these substances, create a plan to reduce harm. This might include using in a safe environment, having a sober friend present, and knowing the signs of an overdose.

10) Reflect on the experience

Consider what led to the mixing of alcohol and cocaine. Reflecting on the circumstances can help in making healthier choices in the future.

Remember, the combination of alcohol and cocaine can be unpredictable and dangerous. Taking these steps can help manage immediate risks, but addressing the underlying issues related to substance use is crucial for long-term health and safety.

Get Treatment for Cocaine and Alcohol Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you are addicted to alcohol, we can help you fight back at Ohio Recovery Centers. We also treat cocaine addiction and mental health conditions at our rehab facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, enabling you to engage with comprehensive and evidence-based therapies.

Our outpatient programs are available at varying levels of intensity. Not only is outpatient treatment more affordable than residential rehab, but it also allows you to fulfill your everyday commitments while participating in weekday therapy sessions.

We appreciate that all alcohol addictions and cocaine addictions are unique, and this is reflected in the personalized nature of treatment plans at Ohio Recovery Centers. Our passionate and committed treatment team blends MAT (medication-assisted treatment), psychotherapy, counseling, and holistic interventions for a whole-body approach to addiction recovery in Ohio.

Call 877-679-2132 today and begin your recovery from cocaine and alcohol addiction tomorrow.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn