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The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Heroin

dangers of mixing alcohol and heroin

Combining any drug with alcohol is never a good idea, but some combinations are particularly dangerous. Some people use drugs and alcohol to ‘balance’ out the effects. For instance, a person might drink alcohol to help “come down” from a stimulant high. Other people mix drugs and alcohol to achieve a more powerful effect. For instance, pairing two depressants together can magnify the effects of both substances. Continue reading to learn the dangers of mixing alcohol and heroin.

Such is the case with a combination like alcohol and heroin. The dangers of mixing alcohol and heroin are immensely serious. Both of these substances are depressants. Technically speaking, they are central nervous system depressants. At the core of the nervous system is the brain. Both heroin and alcohol suppress the nervous system and, sometimes, the suppression is too much, causing dangerous and deadly results. 

Emergency rooms are no strangers to patients who arrive for treatment for the effects of excessive drinking or heroin overdose, but they also increasingly witness patients who are under the influence of both of these substances and are suffering from their combination of effects. While overdose is a serious threat for people who use both alcohol and heroin together, other problems, including an increased risk for developing addiction, also occur. Continue reading to learn more about the dangers of mixing alcohol and heroin.

Alcohol and Heroin: A Dangerous Combination

As central nervous system depressants, alcohol and heroin both deliver sedating effects to the nervous system. While using either of these substances, users can expect to feel more relaxed–even tired and calmer. However, they also experience reduced alertness, delayed motor responses, reduced coordination, and reduced attention span. The more a person uses either substance only increases these effects and can cause others that can be even more dangerous. A person might experience blackouts, memory loss, slowed heart rate, and respiratory depression. 

When a person combines alcohol and heroin, the above effects can be magnified. Some people drink and use heroin together to purposefully intensify their reaction. They may wish to achieve a more powerful feeling of euphoria. But the human body makes for a poor chemistry project when it comes to mixing drugs and alcohol. Adding too much of one or the other substance can result in overdose and even death. 

Dangerous cocktails involving alcohol and drugs can lead to permanent health damage or trigger life-altering consequences. For instance, heightened responses to this combination can cause someone to lose their balance and fall. Their decision-making ability can become impeded, causing them to engage in high-risk behaviors. Mixing dangerous substances in itself is a high-risk behavior. The consequences of this dangerous behavior can result in everything from legal trouble to coma or death. 

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Heroin

Here, we’ll outline some specific dangers that people need to be aware of if they’ve ever considered mixing alcohol and heroin or have done so but were lucky enough to escape severe consequences. 

  • Severe Fatigue: the mixture can cause extreme drowsiness and fatigue. The individual might fall asleep (which can be dangerous if they’ve left their stove on or are at a party with strangers who might take advantage of their state). Once asleep, the individual might not be easily awakened–even by a fire alarm. 
  • Dizziness and Impaired Coordination: central nervous system depressants reduce balance and coordination. A person might feel dizzy simply trying to walk across a room. Dizziness and reduced coordination can increase a person’s risk for falling and becoming injured by that fall or some other accident. 
  • Vomiting: the effects of excess substances involving alcohol and heroin can cause vomiting. Vomiting can lead to dehydration, but that’s not the only risk. A person can vomit while asleep. If they’re asleep on their back, they’re at risk for choking on their own vomit. 
  • Loss of Consciousness: when a person loses consciousness, it’s not merely a state of deep sleep. Either substance can cause loss of consciousness when too much is taken. Together, the risk for losing consciousness is heightened. 
  • Respiratory Depression: another danger of mixing alcohol and heroin is the increased risk for respiratory system depression. What does that mean? It means that the alcohol and drugs reduce the ability of the respiratory system to function. Shallow breathing can result. Respiratory function can become so suppressed by these central nervous system depressants that it stops functioning–and breathing stops as a result, which is a dire situation, and one requiring an emergency medical response.
  • Slowed Heart Rate: when the respiratory system’s function slows, it doesn’t draw in the amount of oxygen that the person needs. As this state of reduced respiratory function continues, a result of shallow breathing, other organs in the body will be affected, including the heart. One result is a weakened pulse, but irregular heartbeat can also occur. 
  • Coma: a coma is a prolonged state of unconsciousness. The combination of alcohol and heroin can trigger a coma that may last days or, in extreme cases, indefinitely. 
  • Death: combining dangerous substances like alcohol and heroin can increase the risk for overdose and death. Death might be a result of respiratory system failure, heart failure, choking on one’s vomit, or even a fall or some other injury sustained while under the powerful influence of this combination.

Getting Help for Someone Who Is Mixing Alcohol and Heroin

A person who mixes alcohol and heroin may or may not realize the dangers–and they may or may not be addicted to either. However, a person with an alcohol use disorder or who drinks excessively and begins to use heroin is at an increased risk for developing an addiction to heroin. A person might be addicted to either of these substances or both–the reality is that mixing both substances for the first or the 10th time can lead to a deadly result. 

Engaging in a high-risk behavior like this suggests that the individual needs substance abuse treatment. The best place to get help managing this problem is at a drug and alcohol rehab center. Too often, these problems get worse without treatment. 

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

At Magnolia, Recovery Is Possible from Addiction to Alcohol and Heroin

At Magnolia Recovery, clients enjoy a small rehab experience with individualized treatment. Our facility only accepts six patients at a time so we can provide focused attention on each. We specialize in medical detox and residential treatment programs for clients suffering from alcohol addiction, heroin addiction, or any other form of substance addiction. 

We’ve created a home-like atmosphere where clients can be comfortable as they go through the recovery process. While our setting is not ‘clinical’ in the hospital sense, we are staffed by a team of credentialed and experienced clinicians who specialize in addiction medicine and therapy. We offer evidence-based therapies that have been proven as safe and effective for treating alcohol and drug addictions. We further enhance our treatment programs with alternative and holistic treatments that promise to support the recovery process. 

Continuing to engage in dangerous patterns of drug and alcohol abuse has serious and, sometimes, permanent consequences. Most people who experience an overdose did so accidentally. Get help for your addiction or substance abuse problem at Magnolia Recovery. We can help you put the dangers of mixing alcohol and heroin behind you.

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Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. Before making any decisions on your physical or mental health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Magnolia Recovery Center will work with our patients on a custom diagnosis and care plan. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients while in our care.