Many prescription medications come with large warning labels saying not to consume alcohol when on the medication. This is due to severe, and potentially fatal, side effects that can occur when certain medications interact with alcohol. The same can happen with mixing illicit drugs and alcohol.
The Effect of Alcohol On The Body
Alcohol affects many of the same areas of the body as drugs, both prescription medication and illicit drugs. It targets the neurotransmitters in the brain, namely dopamine. Alcohol is largely a depressant, so it slows down many vital body systems, including the central nervous system and the brain.
When you have too much alcohol, you can pass out and choke on your vomit. You can also have problems breathing and with your heart. When you take other drugs with alcohol, you increase these effects, which can create disastrous consequences.
Alcohol And Depressants
When you take another type of depressant drug, such as an opioid painkiller, heroin, or sedative, with alcohol, you exacerbate the effects. You will get a more rapid slowing of the brain and central nervous system, which can more easily lead to potentially fatal problems. One of the most dangerous combinations of drugs and alcohol is heroin and alcohol because of the increased depression effects on the body.
About three fourths of those who have died from heroin overdoses also had alcohol in their systems. When sedatives (benzodiazepine) are taken with alcohol, a person becomes very drowsy, and it can depress the cardiac and pulmonary systems to the point of not working, ending in death.
Alcohol and Stimulants
When you combine a depressant like alcohol with a drug that stimulates the body, such as cocaine, then the body begins to compete over the response. The depressant is working to slow the body down, while the stimulant is trying to do the opposite. This causes severe pressure on the body, especially the cardiovascular system, which can cause a serious problem.
Additionally, alcohol increases blood pressure, which is also a side effect of stimulants. This increases the risk of stroke or heart attack. Mixing cocaine with alcohol can lead to the body producing cocaethylene, a poisonous substance that can affect the heart and will remain in the system longer than cocaine.
Alcohol and Marijuana
Alcohol and marijuana can also be dangerous. Even at low doses, it can create an unpredictable result. It can increase the effects of the alcohol or the marijuana, or it can create a completely different reaction than normal. It can create anxiety or panic, paranoia or psychosis, nausea or vomiting, and a reduced ability to control the environment.
The Problem of the Liver
The liver plays a vital role in helping the body metabolize and detoxify drugs and alcohol. When a person takes drugs and consumes alcohol, two or more substances are competing over the liver. The liver is often not able to handle it, so the drug molecules end up being reabsorbed and reciprocated.
This causes even more problems, including not feeling the effects as quickly. Some people then turn to more drugs or alcohol, incising the chance of a fatal overdose.
Avoiding Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol should never be combined, especially in large quantities. Even some non-addictive medications, such as antidepressants and over the counter medication, should not be mixed with alcohol. If you have a prescription for a medication, you should discuss the possible interactions with alcohol with your doctor.
The use of illicit drugs or abuse of prescription medication should not be mixed with alcohol. It can create many dangerous physical effects, as well as greatly impairing your judgment and driving ability. If you do have a problem with alcohol or drugs, or both, you should seek treatment before it leads to serious problems.