When Cocaine and Alcohol Are Mixed Together
Alone, both cocaine and alcohol abuse can cause considerable damage to the body, from overdose to long-term, chronic health issues. Together, many of the health dangers increase.
There’s an 18–25 fold increased risk of immediate death when alcohol and cocaine are used together, than when cocaine is used alone.
When cocaine is taken with alcohol, the blood concentration of cocaine increases by approximately 20%. This places even greater strain on blood vessels and the heart, increasing blood pressure and making the heart work harder.
As with cocaine, cocaethylene blocks the re-uptake of dopamine in the brain, associated with the mood-altering affects that can become addictive.
The conversion of alcohol and cocaine to cocaethylene takes place in the liver, increasing the risk of liver disease in regular users.
Once formed, cocaethylene stays in the body three to five times longer than cocaine.
Alcohol and cocaine increase cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone – over time, elevated cortisol levels can damage the immune system, blood pressure, heart, brain function and more.
A Brown University study in the US found that people who misused alcohol and cocaine together had 2.4 times the risk of suicide.
Increased media attention and reports suggest the suicide risk is much higher – in April 2019, a coroner found that Love Island star, Sophie Gradon, took her own life after consuming alcohol and cocaine. The coroner said that US research indicated that the combination of alcohol and cocaine could increase the risk of suicide by 16 times.
Some myths around cocaine culture.
1. You can’t get addicted - For most people, the term ‘addiction’ means developing a reliance, however, if an individual finds that they are unable to cut down or quit using cocaine even on a weekly basis, it is a sign of an addiction.
2. I don’t get as drunk when I take cocaine - This is False: Alcohol is a depressant and has the opposite effects to cocaine. When taken together it actually doesn’t cancel out the effects, it just masks them by feeling more alert and having increased energy.
3. I can stop taking coke whenever I want - While in theory that is true, unless you stop drinking alcohol or going out in the same social circles as well, you will continue to battle with the lowered inhibitions you have from drinking and peer pressure.
4. I can keep drinking all night when I take coke - A number of studies suggest that the presence of cocaethylene may actually result in increased alcohol consumption (bingeing). Chronic binge drinking is associated with a number of issues, including liver damage, cardiovascular issues, nerve damage, alcohol poisoning, poor judgment, and a quicker development of severe alcohol dependence.
5. I’m not a druggie, I only take it the odd weekend when I’m out with my mates - Even though you may not indulge during the week, the effects of both drugs will continue to remain in their system for many days and will continue to damage their health. Repeated weekend bingeing will increase the risk of fatal damage.
6. I don’t have mental health issues - They may not feel as if they have long term issues with mental health, but dependence on substances significantly affects the worsening of paranoia, depression, anxiety, severe mood swings and suicidal ideation. A 2019 study found that cocaine is taken by 70% of all UK drug users, but despite this high number of regular cocaine users, only 14% seek help from healthcare professionals.