dangers of mixing drugs

Dangers of Mixing Drugs

SoCal Detox
SoCal Detox

SoCal Detox editorial contributors include writers, editors, mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals who are trained to create credible and authoritative health information that is accurate, informative, and easy to understand.

You hear it on social media. Another celebrity has died way too young. You wait to hear the official reports, but that feeling in your gut is there. You already know. Most likely drug use was a factor. What is often downplayed, however, is the fact that it was a polydrug situation. No single drug but many working fatally together. It was a mixture.

Addiction is a deadly disorder. However, it gets even worse when people begin mixing drugs.

The celebrity aspect is simply an example of the dangers of mixing drugs. The rich and famous are not the only ones who do it. Almost all drug users are polydrug users (meaning they use multiple types of drugs). In fact, 64 percent of people seeking drug addiction treatment are actively mixing drugs.

Drugs Have a Type

Some drugs are depressants and some are stimulants. Alcohol and heroin are examples that have depressant actions. Meth and cocaine are stimulants. Depressants (many times referred to as “downers”) lower neurotransmission levels—reducing stimulation in multiple areas of the brain. While on the opposite side, stimulants (often called “uppers”) increase function.

There are more—psychoactive, hallucinogens, steroids and others—but these are the common ones. Importantly, theses general drug types cause the body to do certain things and create certain sensations in a user. Out of a need for diversity, for a bigger hit, or to overcome the body’s tolerance to certain drugs, people often resort to mixing drugs.

And as dangerous as illicit substances can be, when diverse ones are taken at the same time, they can work against each other in frightening ways.

And of course, unregulated, untested and uncontrolled, drugs are wildly unpredictable. All of this can cause elevated dangerous circumstances. Here are few of the more-common ways people are mixing drugs and the inherent dangers.

 If you are near someone who has recently been mixing drugs to a harmful result, please call 911 immediately.

Mixing Drugs of the Same Type

Depressants such as heroin and Xanax are going to lower a person’s heart rate and breathing, and in extreme situations when taken together they could drop someone into a coma or worse. The frightening part of mixing depressants is that people may start with one or two substances and then partake in the worlds most common and widespread depressant—alcohol. When that happens, overdose and fatality are an imminent danger.

Similar to depressants, when you mix stimulants, the effects stack. Causing your body to add activity and sensitivity is already a serious request, but mixing drugs that are stimulants tells your body to take it to the next level. The dangers are pretty obvious here. Strain on the heart, overheating, organ breakdown, high-stress levels, and more. A common drug mixture (and a very dangerous one) is cocaine and ecstasy. Both of these speed the heart and there is a body heating aspect that gets to dangerous levels quickly.

Mixing Drugs of a Different Type

Alcohol and Other Stimulants
Some people are not even aware this is happening. Having a couple of energy drinks or taking a typical dose of Ritalin, or quad-shot cappuccino—these are all stimulants. In and of themselves, they can be handled responsibly. However, when you add alcohol (a depressant) to the mix, unexpected results might occur.

One of the issues with adding alcohol to stimulants is because they are opposite types, the alcohol has less effectiveness. So people drink more. And more. They don’t feel drunk so they keep going. This can easily create alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose. As well, since both stimulants and alcohol put pressure on the heart, cardiac arrest is a distinct possibility.

Cocaine and Alcohol
As mentioned before, mixing alcohol and stimulants is deadly; however, there is one combo that is particularly dangerous: cocaine and alcohol. When a person uses cocaine alone, the chemical breakdown in the body is still intense but is sometimes doable. However, the way an intoxicated body breaks down cocaine actually creates a completely different scenario.

In fact, during the metabolic process, a new chemical is produced and introduced—cocaethylene. It still gives people a high, sure. But you could die immediately. Among other dangers, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has cited alcohol and cocaine as the most common death producing, two-drug combination.

Heroin and Cocaine
It’s called a speedball. It gives someone a euphoric low and keeps them awake to enjoy it. As with any drug combination, bigger problems arise when the user thinks they are okay to continue shooting up (typically a speedball is taken intravenously). You are feeling the effects of the heroin (the depressant), but you are awake and alert. And your heart is still beating. Cocaine (the stimulant) will make you feel like you can keep taking heroin.

Sure your heart is beating now, and you are breathing, but it’s the cocaine doing the work. Once that wears off, there is no telling how low your body will go.

Common Myth

When people hear that someone has a drug use disorder, they assume they are addicted to a specific drug. A crack addict, a meth head, whatever. However, most people struggling with addiction use multiple drugs, and it gets even worse when they do them at the same time—mixing drugs. This polydrug use increases the potential for overdose and death by significant amounts.

Drug use often takes this road. As certain drugs lose their effectiveness, people start to get creative. They use more. And they use in more variety. It is a sad step toward the inevitable and is a situation that is putting their lives at risk with each and every fix.

We are here to help. No one should have to experience the agony of overdose or watching a loved one walk down this path. If you or your friend or a family member are mixing drugs, please call us today to talk about your options.

You could be saving a life. Call, 888-590-0777.

Go here to find out more about the drug detox here at SoCal Detox.

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