Polysubstance abuse is the formal name for abusing two or more substances in tandem, and it’s earned this designation primarily because of how dangerous mixing substances can be. Some combinations are more harmful than others. Cocaine and alcohol, in particular, result in a particularly toxic compound known as cocaethylene—one responsible for several cardiovascular problems, seizures, liver damage, or even immediate death.
Polysubstance abuse poses an even higher risk of harm or death to people with a substance use disorder. Not only can mixing substances lead to higher doses being taken, but their interactions can be less predictable than either substance in isolation. For those needing comprehensive care in Massachusetts, our caring and compassionate team is here to help. Greater Boston Addiction Centers (GBAC) is committed to providing top-of-the-line polysubstance abuse treatment. Call GBAC today at 877.920.6583 or contact us online to learn more.
Why Mixing Alcohol and Cocaine Can Be Fatal
When any substance is ingested, drugs included, they undergo some chemical changes before they are released. During this time, the resulting chemical combination can wreak serious havoc on the body. For instance—mixing cocaine and alcohol is not common among people struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) but is highly prevalent among those struggling with cocaine use disorder. While the range of estimates is broad, it’s speculated that close to half of cocaine users have a concurrent dependence on alcohol as well.
Cocaethylene is a byproduct of the liver processing cocaine and alcohol simultaneously. While cocaethylene does result in a more potent high and remains in one’s system much longer than cocaine alone, it also introduces a series of health risks that far outweigh those of either component substance, including:
- Liver toxicity
- Liver fibrosis
- Cardiovascular problems
- Difficulty breathing
- Anxiety or panic attacks
Using cocaine and alcohol—a stimulant and a depressant—together puts extreme strain on the body. Rather than the stimulant and depressant canceling out, their combined effect more resembles stretching the body’s limits apart. The overwhelming amount of stress applied can result in a sudden heart attack or stroke before the added complication of cocaethylene.
How Does Polysubstance Abuse Treatment Work?
Polysubstance abuse is a significant risk factor for those already dealing with substance use disorder. It’s enticing because of its elevated effects, which can attract those who require higher highs and are less likely to weigh the consequences of doing so. Polysubstance dependence comes in more forms than just alcohol and cocaine. Other combinations that can be highly dangerous include:
- Valium and alcohol
- Ecstasy and alcohol
- Cocaine and steroids
- Benzos and opioids
- Methadone and heroin
Treating polysubstance abuse involves treating the symptoms of each drug, as well as the sum of their parts. Using a variety of therapies and treatments is essential in helping individuals overcome every aspect of their substance use disorder.
Find Polysubstance Abuse Treatment at Greater Boston Addiction Centers
Mixing substances can take the danger involved in substance use disorder to an entirely new level. Each progressive use of multiple drugs simultaneously increases the risk of injury or death. Don’t let polysubstance abuse cause harm to those closest to you. If you or someone you love has been affected by polysubstance abuse, there are steps you can take to help turn things around.
At Greater Boston Addiction Centers, our team has years of experience helping the people of Massachusetts overcome all manners of substance use disorder. Our polysubstance abuse treatment program incorporates our diverse treatment styles to ensure you or your loved one successfully gets sober. Have questions? Contact GBAC today at 877.920.6583 or fill out our secure online form to learn more about how we can help.