What Happens When Cocaine Is Mixed with Alcohol or Other Drugs
Despite the fact that cocaine is a powerful drug on its own, mixing coke and other drugs or alcohol is a common practice among users. However, the effects of combining cocaine with other substances are both dangerous and unpredictable, having potential long-term negative health effects for the user. Yet, 1.4 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 report using cocaine in the past month, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.1
Why Do Users Choose to Mix Cocaine with Other Substances?
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system and causes the user to feel very focused, confident, and energetic. This is what makes it a popular party drug. A user can mix cocaine with another stimulant or “upper” that will intensify their high or combine it with a depressant or “downer” to lessen its intensity. Mixing cocaine with other substances is also done for the purpose of reducing the anxiety, paranoia, and other symptoms associated with coming down from a cocaine high.
Cocaine is most often mixed with other substances in a party situation in order to enhance the experience. However, mixing can also occur in other situations, such as when it’s necessary to boost mental performance at school or work.
Cocaine Is a Scheduled Drug
Cocaine was a popular ingredient of elixirs and tonics developed in the early 1900s to treat several illnesses. In the days before synthetic local anesthetics were available, surgeons used cocaine to numb patient pain.
Today, drugs like cocaine are classified according to their accepted medical use and their potential for abuse and dependency. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), cocaine is a Schedule II drug. Under this classification, cocaine is identified as dangerous, having a high potential for abuse. As well, usage of the drug can also lead to severe physical or psychological dependence requiring outpatient drug rehab.
Despite its classification, cocaine is considered to be acceptable as a form of medical treatment. Physicians continue to use cocaine as a local anesthesia for some surgeries involving the throat, ears, and eyes.
Additives in Cocaine Which Make It More Dangerous
Cocaine is often adulterated or “cut” with other substances. This can be done to increase the volume or intensity of the drug. When in short supply, cocaine is often mixed with substances that have the same appearance, such as baking soda, laundry detergent, or boric acid. Doing this allows the dealer to sell less cocaine for the same amount of money.
Unfortunately, the substances used to cut cocaine can have devastating effects on users. Some are not meant for internal use and can damage major organs and mucous membranes. Others, such as amphetamine and LSD, can drastically increase the negative effects of cocaine, placing the user in grave danger. For example, laundry detergent contains hundreds of chemicals which can poison the user. Its small particles can accumulate in the arteries, causing blockages in the liver, brain, and heart.
Possibly as a result of these dangerous cutting agents, cocaine was the most frequently mentioned illegal drug reported by hospital emergency departments to the Drug Abuse Warning Network in 2005, with over 448,000 emergency visits involving the drug in that year.2
Cocaine vs. Crack
The powdered form of cocaine, known as blow, coke, or snow, is typically snorted through the nose or rubbed into the gums. It can also be dissolved and injected into the veins. Crack cocaine, also known as freebase or rock, is cocaine in its crystallized form. Using crack involves heating this crystal to produce smoke, which is then inhaled. The crystal can also be smoked like a cigarette when sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana.
Effects of Mixing Cocaine with Other Drugs
Users often mix cocaine with alcohol or other drugs. Unfortunately, this practice can have a multitude of dangerous health consequences. It can also be fatal. This is because cocaine is already dangerous to cardiovascular health on its own. A spike in blood pressure, vasospasm (narrowing of the arteries), and dangerously elevated heart rates are just a few of the effects of using cocaine on its own. These effects can be amplified when other drugs are used with cocaine.
Cocaine with Alcohol
When cocaine is used with alcohol, the body creates the chemical cocaethylene, which remains in the body. With the repeated combined use of these two substances, the amount of cocaethylene in the body increases, becoming more dangerous than the individual drugs themselves, causing possible sudden death. Other negative health effects of mixing cocaine with alcohol can include:
- Heart palpitations
- Nausea and vomiting
Cocaine with Heroin
Using cocaine and heroin together is called a “speedball.” Cocaine is a powerful stimulant which causes the heart to beat rapidly. Heroin causes the heart to slow down. This can throw the heart’s rhythm out of balance, which can drastically increase the risk of heart failure. There are many other possible consequences of mixing cocaine and heroin, and some of which are included below:
- Deterioration of muscle tissue
- Perforation of the nasal septum
- Bronchial hyper-reactivity
Cocaine with Ecstasy
Cocaine use with Ecstasy is very popular among teens and young adults who participate in a clubbing or party culture. Ecstasy is a party drug which causes the user to feel euphoric and empathetic. It also causes enhanced sensory perception, increased energy, and a feeling of emotional closeness. However, its negative effects can be fatal and, when used with cocaine, can cause:
- Hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature)
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
Cocaine with Marijuana
Cocaine can be combined with marijuana by sprinkling the powder or crystallized crack cocaine into a joint, pipe, or bowl filled with cannabis. Just as cocaine and heroin have contradicting effects, so, too, does cocaine when mixed with marijuana, which is a depressant. Users will often smoke marijuana to lessen the intensity of cocaine. However, using both can cause several reactions in the body, including:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Heart failure
- Overdose and death
Cocaine Use in the United States
The 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed some startling statistics. Over 35 million Americans aged 12 and older reported having used cocaine at least once. 8.5% of students in 12th grade reported having used cocaine.3 Cocaine use has dropped over the past few years, but so has a perceived danger of the drug. This makes early education about its dangers absolutely imperative in order to avoid increased participation in cocaine outpatient programs.
Recommended Treatment for Cocaine and Other Drug Addiction
The euphoria and other positive effects of mixing cocaine with other drugs can make it difficult to stop. When it becomes impossible to control drug use, addiction is the result. If you’ve been using cocaine with other drugs, you may have experienced any number of the aforementioned symptoms but, regardless, you have continued using.
You may have tried to stop using cocaine with other drugs, only to experience severe withdrawal symptoms so intense that resuming use seemed the only way to achieve relief. However, there is another way to break this vicious and potentially deadly cycle. Outpatient treatment can help you minimize your withdrawal symptoms while at the same time offering you the support you need to maintain sobriety for life.
Outpatient cocaine addiction treatment programs can help you overcome your addiction while at the same time allowing you to live at home and attend school or work. Intensive outpatient treatment involves attending therapy sessions on an individual, group, and family basis. These sessions help you understand what factors are contributing to your addiction and provide you with the education and tools you need to prevent relapses.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment at BlueCrest Recovery Center
BlueCrest Recovery Center’s treatment programs for cocaine addiction inspire you to recover. This is because the treatment we offer is holistic; we address your needs on the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental levels with a compassionate and caring staff that empowers you by identifying your strengths and talents.
Discover the difference that BlueCrest Recovery Center has made in the lives of its patients and how it can help you achieve lifelong recovery starting today; call (973)298-5776.