Drugs have many risks, but when combined the results can be very dangerous. The idea of mixing highs may sound appealing but it can also lead to life-threatening side effects and a high risk of addiction. Medication labels always suggest against combining prescription drugs with other substances. However, illicit drugs don’t come with instructions, and people may feel it’s okay to experiment with two different substances. There are several deadly drug combinations to avoid.
For years, people have combined drugs to feel a certain effect. Sometimes, they are mixed to offset each other. For example, some combine fentanyl pills (a depressant) with cocaine (a stimulant) to avoid feeling too drowsy or too alert.
It’s important to understand the dangers of drug combinations, so you may better avoid serious complications. Here are some of the most common drug combinations:
- Alcohol and marijuana
- Alcohol and cocaine
- Alcohol and benzodiazepines
- Cocaine and opioids
Let’s take a closer look at each other these combinations and how they work on the body.
1. Alcohol and Marijuana
One of the most well-known drug combinations is marijuana and alcohol. Many reasons make this one of the more popular pairings. For one, they’re different drug types. Alcohol is a depressant that lowers inhibitions, sedates, and relieves anxiety. Marijuana is unique in that it can be considered many several drug types. For the most part, it’s grouped with hallucinogens, such as LSD, even though its effects are far less strong.
Short-term side effects of marijuana include altered senses, feelings of euphoria, and stirring up an appetite. Where alcohol works more on the central nervous system, marijuana works on the brain. When combined, this can create what some people call a “cross-faded” effect. Many dangers come from combining alcohol and marijuana.
- lowered motor control and mental concentration
2. Alcohol and Cocaine
Cocaine is one of the most popular party drugs today. It’s a stimulant that gives people lots of energy, mental alertness, and confidence. Combining alcohol, which makes someone drowsy, with cocaine, which makes someone energized, is quite common. This is because people think that cocaine will prevent a “blackout,” while some who have overindulged in cocaine will drink to fall asleep. For some, this seems logical, but this drug combination has many risks.
Some of these risks are:
- the development of cocaethylene in the body, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular toxicity, leading to heart failure
- irregular heartbeat
- stomach pain
3. Alcohol and Benzodiazepines
Though not as popular as some of the previous pairings, alcohol and benzodiazepines is a common alcohol and drug combination. Benzodiazepines were more popular in the 60s and 70s in the recreational and medicinal worlds. However, because they quickly develop a high tolerance, they’ve been replaced by safer drugs.
Both these drugs fall into the “downer” family. They work on the central nervous system and can relieve anxiety and create sleepiness. This drug combination is unlike the previous ones, which were paired to offset each other. This combination intensifies the effects of each other, creating dangerous side effects.
Some of these side effects are:
- periods of memory loss
- slurred speech
4. Cocaine and Opioids
This drug combination has been around for many years. These drugs work very differently on the body, but when combined, can intensify the desired effects of each other. It’s an especially dangerous pairing that has led to many overdoses and deaths.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that drug overdose deaths from cocaine spiked from 5,914 in 2014 to 19,477 in 2020. Many of these deaths involved opioids, such as heroin. People refer to the combination of an opioid with cocaine as a “speedball.”
Some risks of this combination are:
Addiction Treatment Help
There is treatment for people with concurrent substance abuse issues. Practices include FDA-approved pharmacotherapy and counseling. Treatment is one of the best ways to achieve recovery.