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Why is Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol So Dangerous?

Cocaine and alcohol is a common combination. People often drink a bit, get tired, then do a bit of cocaine to bring them up and keep them going. On the other hand, drinking enhances the effect of the cocaine. Unfortunately, combining alcohol and cocaine is far more dangerous than using either substance alone.

First, using cocaine while drinking can increase your risk of alcohol poisoning. Drinking is self-limiting to some extent in that people usually pass out before drinking enough to poison themselves. Cocaine makes you more alert and less aware of how drunk you are. You might keep drinking long after you would have normally fallen asleep, putting you at greater risk of alcohol poisoning.

Second, drinking and doing cocaine at the same time massively increases your risk of sudden death. Alcohol enhances the effects of cocaine, which is one reason people mix them, but it also increases the danger. You are about 20 times more likely to die from mixing cocaine and alcohol than you are from taking cocaine alone. This is because cocaine and alcohol mix in the liver to form a new substance called cocaethylene, which is about 30 percent more toxic than cocaine.

Not only is it more toxic, it takes longer to metabolize, so it stays in your system doing damage for longer. Cocaethylene increases your heart rate and blood pressure. It greatly increases your risk of stroke. It impairs the function of your heart muscle, leading to a greater risk of heart attack. Even occasional users may suddenly have a heart attack. Because cocaethylene is created in the liver, it causes liver damage too.

Cocaethylene is more active in the brain as well. One reason people mix cocaine and alcohol so often is that the effect is so much more potent than cocaine alone. The euphoria is greater from the increased dopamine response and it lasts longer too. It also makes people more aggressive than drinking or cocaine alone, leading to impulsive, sometimes violent behavior, and increased likelihood of legal problems.

People who habitually drink and use cocaine and want to quit need treatment for both substances. People often try to quit the cocaine without quitting drinking and find they still end up using cocaine when they drink. Not only are the two behaviors closely associated, but drinking lowers your willpower, making it easier to relapse. If you do combine alcohol and cocaine, look for a treatment center that can treat both addictions.

If you or a loved one is struggling with multiple addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.