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3 Devastatingly Dangerous Alcohol-Drug Combos

According to statistics compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), roughly 25% of substance-related emergency room admissions involve a combination of both drugs and alcohol.

Poly-Drug Abuse

Although heavily abusing “just alcohol” or “only drugs” is hazardous, the combination of the two can be a recipe for disaster. In short, combining drugs and alcohol either masks effects, which increases the risk of consuming too much, or the combination causes a “double-whammy” effect on cognitive and physical function.

Although there are many dangerous substance combinations, these three alcohol and drug combinations are comparable to a game of Russian roulette.

Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

A symptom of rampant prescription drug abuse, benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, and Ativan) are the most common drugs mixed with alcohol. Unfortunately, this combination is also one of the most lethal. Both alcohol and benzodiazepines slow down the central nervous system. When the two are combined, the central nervous system is affected twice as hard, which can lead to severe loss of coordination and coma and significantly increase the risk of overdose and death.

Alcohol and Opiates

Alcohol and opiates also make for a particularly lethal combination, since each one enhances the sedative effects of the other. Much like benzodiazepines, illegal opiates like heroin and prescription opioids (OxyContin, Vicodin, hydrocodone) seriously depress the central nervous system. Both alcohol and opiates slow down breathing in different physical ways. Along with this one-two punch to breathing, both substances inhibit coughing reflexes. Not surprisingly, respiratory arrest is particularly common with this combination.

Alcohol and Stimulants

Unlike alcohol/benzodiazepines or alcohol/opiate combinations, the combination of alcohol and stimulants counteracts each substance’s effects to an extent. In other words, stimulants (cocaine, speed, meth, Ritalin, Adderall) mask the depressive effects of alcohol, while alcohol dulls the “edge” of stimulants. This significantly increases the risk of taking more than your body can handle. Also, when you mix cocaine and alcohol, your body creates a byproduct called cocaethylene in the liver, a dangerous chemical compound that increases the chances of overdose.

Like a game of Russian roulette, mixing alcohol and drugs commonly produces tragic results, especially after spinning the cylinder a number of times. Regardless of a person’s tolerance, the human body cannot handle the powerful effects of certain combinations. Although mixing any alcohol and drug combination is dangerous, no one should pull the trigger on these three combinations.

Get Help for Alcohol or Drug Addiction

If you think you might have a problem with alcohol or drug misuse, help is available. Professional drug and alcohol rehab programs can start anyone suffering with addiction on the path to recovery. You can contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) for more information free at at any time, day or night. You can also check your health insurance coverage using the form below or contact free drug and alcohol hotline numbers.

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