Alcohol and cocaine are two of the most commonly abused substances in the United States and abroad. Although alcohol is legal for those over the age of twenty-one and readily available in nearly every city and town in the U.S., cocaine is not. However, despite their differences in legal status, both alcohol and cocaine present various dangers and side effects to their users. These risks and dangers can become even more deadly when the two are combined.
The Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol comes in many forms and serves a number of purposes. Some varieties of alcohol are used for cleaning while others like sparkling wine are used for celebration. No matter the kind of alcohol, the substance, in general, can have numerous negative effects on those who consume it.
Alcohol is a depressant substance. This means it affects an individual’s central nervous system, slowing down the interactions and reactions that occur in both the body and the brain. In doing so, alcohol affects nearly every aspect of an individual. When consumed in excess, alcohol causes overall impairment, affecting the consumer’s motor skills and coordination as well as their judgment and behavior.
By affecting both the body and the mind, alcohol can be the cause of several unintended consequences on an individual’s health and general wellbeing. Typically, alcohol abuse will lead to negative effects on an individual’s health, finances, home life, occupation, relationships, and education.
The Effects of Cocaine
Unlike alcohol, cocaine is a stimulant. Instead of slowing bodily functions down, stimulants like cocaine increase an individual’s energy, alertness, and sensitivity when consumed. While many users find the burst of energy and increased sensitivity from cocaine beneficial, its effects are almost always short-lived, lasting typically around half an hour. This combination of desirable but short effects is part of what makes cocaine so addictive because it prompts users to consume the substance multiple times.
Like alcohol addiction, cocaine addiction can lead to a series of negative side effects on one’s health and wellbeing. The side effects of long-term cocaine use include:
- Panic attacks
- Weight loss
- Increased risk for strokes
- Increased risk for seizures
- Movement disorders
- Cognitive deficits in impulse control, memory, and decision-making
Dangers of Combining Alcohol and Cocaine
While each substance is dangerous on its own, the combination of alcohol and cocaine presents even greater dangers, including:
Addiction and Changes in the Brain
When used repeatedly over long periods of time, use of cocaine and/or alcohol will rewire the brain. Cocaine and alcohol both release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This chemical is the part of the brain responsible for supplying people with feelings of pleasure and reward. Unfortunately, when cocaine and/or alcohol consumption forces dopamine to be released, it damages the entire system. This damage makes it harder to release dopamine over time. It also makes a person more likely to seek immediate, often unhealthy pleasures — also known as addictive behavior.
Negative Impacts on Health and General Wellbeing
Consuming alcohol and cocaine can have a variety of negative effects on an individual’s health and wellbeing. Instead of facing the risks of side effects from just one dangerous substance, an individual combining both substances faces the potential side effects from each with a high likelihood to face even greater, potentially deadly side effects and consequences.
Many users of alcohol and cocaine will combine the substances in an attempt at achieving balance. Because alcohol is a depressant and cocaine is a stimulant, many believe the two will cancel each other out or balance each other. This is not true. Alcohol and cocaine do not cancel each other’s effects or balance one another. In fact, alcohol can interfere with the way the body metabolizes cocaine, which can actually enhance the effects of cocaine rather than diminishing them.
Increased Risk of Overdose and/or Alcohol Poisoning
The most dangerous effect of combining alcohol and cocaine is the increased risk for an overdose or alcohol poisoning. Both substances cause an individual to become impaired, affecting not only their bodily functioning but their judgment. When consuming two powerful substances like alcohol and cocaine, it is more difficult to keep track of how much one is consuming. Sadly, the risks of an overdose and/or alcohol poisoning increase dramatically when these substances are combined.
Interested in Addiction Treatment in Your Area?
If you or a loved one are living with an addiction to alcohol, cocaine, or both, help is available in your area! At Knoxville Recovery Center, our team of experienced addiction specialists provides multiple treatments and therapies designed to address the root causes of addiction and help individuals achieve lasting recovery. Contact us today for more information on our addiction treatments!