Author: James Anderson

Mixing cocaine and alcohol: Side effects and precautions

cocaine and alcohol

Total duration depends on how much is used and how it’s consumed. How your liver, pancreas, and kidney are working also play into duration time. Some people intentionally drink alcohol while using cocaine to feel the effects of cocaethylene. Usually people mix alcohol and cocaine for one of two reasons. They want to feel more buzzed, or they want to offset unpleasant side effects of one of the substances. Using multiple drugs at once can also increase the risk of addiction.

Cocaine — aka coke, blow, and snow — is a powerful stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant. Londoners consume twice the amount of any other European city – roughly 23kg of the class A drug every day. This works out at more than half a million doses of cocaine, with an estimated street value of £2.75m. Farré, M., et al. “Alcohol and cocaine interactions in humans.” Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 1993.

cocaine and alcohol

But it can also produce some not-so-pleasant psychological and physical effects. People can receive help and treatment for alcohol and drug use disorder by contacting a drug and alcohol helpline or support network. The liver processes, or metabolizes, any toxic substances that build up in the bloodstream.

The hCE1 and hCE2 enzymes are high-capacity, low-affinity enzymes with the ability to hydrolyze structurally dissimilar esters to transform lipophilic esters into more water-soluble alcohol and acyl substituents [16]. Although it was long believed that cocaine was metabolized into benzoylecgonine via hCE1 and into ecgonine methyl ester via hCE2, this has come under question [17]. The hCE1 enzyme appears to be a broad-spectrum bio-scavenger and is known to play a role in the metabolism of biotoxins such as sarin [18]. Studies show alcohol and cocaine use during pregnancy have negative effects on both mother and fetus. These effects can have a lasting health impact on both mother and child.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol and Coke?

Some people using cocaine may take alcohol for no other reason than it is available at the time. Cocaethylene has considerably greater potency than cocaine, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to increased risk of stroke, arrhythmia and heart attack. Some studies suggest a 20-fold increased risk of a heart attack when cocaine and alcohol are used together.

  1. Drugs manipulate the pleasure and reward system in the brain.
  2. Cocaine dependence develops when there’s a change in the brain’s reward system from constant release of dopamine.
  3. However, this combination can easily lead to life-threatening consequences such as overdose or alcohol poisoning.
  4. Alcohol and cocaine can each cause dangerous health risks on their own.
  5. Clinicians treating patients with acute or chronic cocaine exposure should ask about alcohol consumption to get a more realistic assessment of their risk.

Combining cocaine with alcohol and other substances also increases the risk of addiction. As cocaethylene blocks the reabsorption of dopamine in the brain, it produces higher euphoric effects for both cocaine and alcohol, which can create a vicious cycle of taking more of each drug. A person is also more likely to engage in risky and violent behaviour. Cocaethylene seems to be far more selective to dopaminergic sites than cocaine [11], since the latter appears to block serotonin reuptake as well as dopamine reuptake [2]. Both cocaine and cocaethylene increase the post-synaptic neuronal activity in an equipotent fashion although the effects of cocaethylene are more enduring [3]. When people mix cocaine and alcohol, cocaethylene can stay around for days to even weeks in the body.

Likewise, people who consume ethanol but take no cocaine or very little cocaine would not produce cocaethylene [40]. The greatest cocaethylene production would theoretically occur in a person who has a relatively high blood-alcohol level at the point in which they used cocaine [40]. In real-world clinical practice, it can be very difficult to predict cocaethylene concentrations in the blood, even when the exact amounts and timing of alcohol and cocaine use are known. The longer half-life of cocaethylene means that its measurable presence in the blood indicates that the person had used cocaine, even if cocaine is no longer detectable [3]. Dopamine is a reinforcing substance that plays a key role in the effects of many drugs of abuse, including cocaine and alcohol [21].

Increased risk of heart-related problems

In some cases, the effects of cocaine and alcohol can cause life threatening complications. Ethanol decreased the amount of benzoylecgonine excreted in the urine by 48%. In this study, subjects reported that the combination of cocaine plus ethanol was more intoxicating and pleasurable than either agent alone [20]. It also causes toxic levels of cocaine metabolites to build in the liver. That increases the risk of stroke and heart-related reactions for days to weeks. Cocaethylene is a toxic metabolite that forms when alcohol interacts with cocaine.

There are quite a few known interactions between cocaine and other substances, including over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications and other drugs. Recovery will depend on the frequency and severity of cocaine and alcohol use and the overall health of the person. Combining cocaine and alcohol can cause serious long-term mental and physical health complications. In the U.S., 45 states now have Good Samaritan laws, which protect drug users and witnesses from persecution in the event of an overdose. This law can enable emergency responders to reach people faster and save lives. Alcohol also slows down the elimination process, which means that the liver is unable to expel all of the cocaethylene, leaving about 20% remaining in the liver.

Cocaine typically stays in your system for 1 to 4 days but can be detected for a couple of weeks in some people. When snorted or gummed, coke needs to get through mucus, skin, and other tissues. It bypasses all that when you inject or smoke it, allowing it to enter the bloodstream almost immediately. Some people process cocaine into a rock and smoke it, which we’ll get to next.

Recognizing an overdose

Alcohol’s toxic products can also directly affect the heart, lowering blood pressure and causing an increase in heart rate. Our group has shown that binge drinking can increase the risk of a heart attack. When cocaine and alcohol are combined, the symptoms of dehydration become more profound. Both substances can increase urination, and this side effect is more severe when taking them together.

This product is stronger than either cocaine or alcohol alone. It increases toxicity to the heart, liver, and other major organs. Cocaine addiction can be treated, and people addicted to multiple substances, such as cocaine and alcohol, can receive integrated treatment to recover from both addictions. When alcohol is in the blood, metabolism is disrupted and a metabolite called cocaethylene forms. For example, cocaine is a stimulant that can make people more anxious or unnerved than they want to be. In another example, a person who is drunk and sleepy may use cocaine to feel more alert and to stay awake.

Despite this, an unknown consequence to many regular or even recreational users is that combining alcohol with cocaine is cardiotoxic. The short-lasting effects cause a user to repeat taking cocaine for the rewarding stimulus, which can result in a person eventually becoming addicted. The consequences of long-term use include an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and depression. Combined alcohol and cocaine use is also linked to an increase in suicide, according to a study at Brown University. Researchers looked at over 800 patients who reported to the emergency department for suicidal thoughts or suicidal behaviors. The study found that only the combination of alcohol and cocaine was linked to an increased suicide risk.