The effects of alcohol are commonly known. As a depressant, it suppresses or slows the brain, reducing activity and function. An intoxicated person can be regularly seen slurring their words, stumbling, and have been known to make bad decisions.
Cocaine is a stimulant, so the brain speeds up. Individuals who use cocaine can seem restless, anxious, and have high energy. They will also have high blood pressure and their hearts will pound quickly in their chest.
A person who is consuming both alcohol and cocaine ends up having both stimulant and depressant messages going to their brain, with uncertain effects.
The most concerning effect of combining alcohol and cocaine doesn’t occur in the brain, however. The combination of these two drugs causes the liver to metabolize a chemical called cocaethylene, which has been linked to sudden death.
What Is Cocaethylene?
Cocaethylene is a chemical that is metabolized in the liver of someone who has ingested both cocaine and alcohol at the same time. Cocaethylene is considered a psychoactive substance but lasts significantly longer than cocaine in the body.
Cocaethylene extends the longevity of the effects of both cocaine and alcohol, perpetuating the potential for addiction. Cocaethylene also produces extended periods of euphoria, which can lead to high blood pressure, violent thoughts, bad judgment, and aggression.
While extended euphoria may sound appealing to someone that combines alcohol and cocaine, the truth of the matter is that cocaethylene is very toxic to the body. Cocaethylene is connected to liver damage, compromising immune systems, and seizures.
Cocaethylene is also up to 25-times more likely to kill you than cocaine alone.
Additional Risks When Mixing Cocaine And Alcohol
When drinking alcohol and abusing cocaine, these two drugs enhance the effects of one another. The brain and cardiovascular systems are significantly affected by this combination, raising the risk factor for overdose, heart attack, and even alcohol poisoning.
When a person continues to consume large amounts of alcohol, the effects of cocaine can mask the effects of alcohol. This can lead to a number of undesirable outcomes, such as blacking out or making very poor, uncharacteristic choices.
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Because the liver is being bombarded with toxins, it can actually become damaged by cocaine and alcohol abuse. A damaged liver begins to form scar tissue and cannot function properly. When the liver does not operate efficiently, the body can not easily rid itself of toxins, and that can result in damage to multiple organ systems.
Another risk factor of abusing cocaine and alcohol together is developing a polysubstance abuse or addiction or exacerbating an underlying mental health disorder. This can complicate an already problematic situation.
Psychological Changes With Combined Alcohol And Cocaine Abuse
When a person abuses cocaine, there are noticeable behavioral changes, such as increased energy, paranoia, anxiety, and impulsiveness.
Alcohol intoxication has some of the following effects when consumed, such as feeling relaxed, bad-decision making, impairment, and poor concentration skills.
When combining alcohol and cocaine, it can enhance some or all of the symptoms of alcohol intoxication and cocaine abuse. In addition, a person may engage in dangerous activities, such as unsafe sex or drunk driving.
Once the effects of alcohol and cocaine begin to subside, it is not unheard of for a person to have intense feelings of sadness or depression or mood instability. A person may struggle with day to day function or severe emotional distress after coming down from cocaine and alcohol.
Seeking Treatment for Polysubstance Addiction
It is strongly encouraged that anyone seeking treatment for a polysubstance addiction, commit to a residential program, as the rehabilitation is much more successful if the person seeking treatment is able to live at the treatment facility, especially those with polysubstance addiction.
Our professional staff is available for you to reach out and discuss options for addiction treatment for cocaine and alcohol abuse. Contact us today.
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- Analytical Toxicology - Forensic Drug Profile: Cocaethylene
- Case Reports In Emergency Medicine - The Role of AcetylCysteine in Cocaethylene (Non-Acetaminophen) Acute Liver Failure
- Journal of Addictive Diseases - Cocaethylene toxicity
- Toxicology Cases for the Clinical and Forensic Laboratory - Cocaethylene - ethanol adding fuel to cocaine’s fire