For a particular population, abusive or addictive behavior is not exclusive to only one substance. Combining the use of two or more drugs to achieve a greater effect can occur when one’s disorder escalates to a new and more dangerous level. Looking closer into the underlying science of the matter, sometimes the chemicals in alcohol react unexpectedly or even violently with others.
The McDonald Center for Student Well-Being at the University of Notre Dame detailed the variable list of outcomes that occur when alcohol and other drugs are taken together. An addictive combination occurs when the reaction is proportional to both substances’ individual effects. A synergistic combination results in a heightened effect that surpasses simply adding the individual effects together. And lastly, an antagonistic combination takes place when another drug’s individual effect is diminished by the presence of alcohol.
The center also created a catalog of illicit drugs and how each specifically interacts with a state of inebriation. For example:
- Marijuana has a synergistic effect, enhancing the sedative effect of alcohol and increasing the overall level of intoxication contributed by both drugs
- Cocaine and alcohol both increase the body’s blood pressure, which make heart attacks and strokes more likely
- When opiates are used with alcohol, the two substances also have a synergistic, sedative result that increases the risk for overdose
- Since alcohol is also a depressant, the added use of sedatives or tranquilizers can slow cardiac and pulmonary functions to the point of fatality
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking beer, wine or other spirits can also exacerbate the effects of many medications. With the large expansion of the pharmaceutical industry over the past century, the resource includes an extensive list of synthetic ingredients and their unique interaction with drinking or being drunk, such as:
- Mixing alcohol with allergy, cold or flu medicines can cause drowsiness, dizziness and an increased chance of overdose
- Anxiety and epilepsy treatments can also lead to overdose with alcohol, but are commonly associated with slower or strained breathing, reduced motor control and problems with memory
- Prescription drugs used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other difficulties with concentration may result in impaired concentration and increased risks for heart conditions and liver damage when taken with alcohol
- Pain and fever reducers can combine with alcohol and create stomach ulcers, other forms of internal bleeding and liver damage
It is important to stay informed of what you put into your body and its possible ramifications. Also, rehabs in Southern California along with dual diagnosis treatment centers in California can serve you or a loved one who is struggling with one or more dependencies. Contact the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline online or call for helpful resources in your area.