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What Happens When You Mix Alcohol with Other Drugs?

Alcohol is the most widely abused drug in America. As a legal, affordable, and widely accepted drug in nearly all segments of American culture, alcohol is often overlooked as a dangerous substance. Studies show that in the United States nearly 15 million people are coping with alcohol abuse. While this widespread use is a serious issue on its own, there is evidence that alcohol can serve as a “gateway drug” for many at-risk populations, including youth.

A gateway drug is a substance that is believed to increase the likelihood of using other drugs due to its ability to increase exposure to other substances, as well as its ability to lower resistance to trying other drugs. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that of the 20.2 million American adults who experience a Substance Use Disorder each year, 11.3% of them report struggling with alcohol and drugs simultaneously.

What happens when you mix alcohol and other drugs? Mixing alcohol and drugs can have serious physical and psychological consequences, but help is possible. With the support of the experienced team at Resurgence Behavioral Health, you can break free from addiction to alcohol and drugs, and build the happy, sober life you deserve.

Effects of Mixing Alcohol Drugs

The mixing of alcohol and drugs, and subsequent addiction, is a distinct recovery situation that requires professional intervention. What happens when you mix alcohol with other drugs? Mixing the two doesn’t constitute just one addiction. Instead, these individuals may be experiencing simultaneous substance addictions.

Furthermore, mixing alcohol and drugs compounds the negative health impacts of both substances, and can complicate the withdrawal process, as well. For example, the negative effects of alcohol consumption on the body and mind are numerous, and can include:

  • Blackouts
  • Stroke
  • Inflammation
  • Infertility
  • Sexual disfunction
  • Digestive issues
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • High blood sugar
  • Insomnia
  • Heart disease
  • Anxiety
  • Cirrhosis
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Liver cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatty liver
  • Fibrosis
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

However, depending on the drugs with which alcohol is mixed, health outcomes may include other forms of cancer, such as lung cancer, as well as bodily infections, cognitive issues, tooth decay, loss of memory, paranoia, anger, and incontinence. The likelihood of a fatal overdose is dramatically compounded when alcohol and drugs are mixed, for two primary reasons.

First, when one is already under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it can become much more difficult to feel the impact on the body and to determine when one has had “too much.” For example, the increase in drinking beyond normal limits is higher when judgment is already impaired. Second, although alcohol may be associated with feelings of euphoria, it is a depressant drug.

This means that alcohol slows the central nervous system, lowers breathing rate, and slows motor skills. While the depressant effect of alcohol can be a medical issue by itself, the danger is greatly increased when the drug used is another depressant, such as Valium. This is because these depressant drugs will further slow the central nervous system, reducing the frequency of breathing, lowering heart rate, and reducing the body’s reaction time, which can even result in a decreased ability to vomit, in case of excessive alcohol consumption.

As a result, someone who has taken two depressant drugs may simply stop breathing or may experience another fatal medical emergency. Additionally, in the United States, nearly 30 people die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Mixing alcohol and drugs increases the likelihood of motor vehicle and machinery accidents, which can result in serious injury and loss of life.

Yet even knowing this information, many men and women who struggle with mixing alcohol and drugs feel they cannot quit. Failed attempts to quit “cold turkey” can lead to guilt, shame, binge drinking, and a cycle that feels impossible to escape. But with professional treatment, such as the help offered at Resurgence Behavioral Health, there is always hope for meaningful recovery from addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Mental illness and Mixing Alcohol Drugs

The relationship between mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse is complex and self-reinforcing. For individuals mixing alcohol and drugs, the effects on their bodies and minds are extreme, creating a trap that can be hard to escape without professional guidance. Those who mix alcohol and drugs are likely doing so as a coping strategy for an underlying mental health issue that has come to dominate their lives.

Studies have uncovered that alcoholism is common among individuals dealing with mental health issues, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. For example, alcohol and drugs are also often used in combination as a self-medication effort for insomnia, which can result in paranoia, impaired judgment, social isolation, and depression if left untreated.

Mixing alcohol and drugs only worsens sleep deprivation, compounding the negative effects, and reducing the ability of the addict to seek recovery on their own. Furthermore, many substances, from prescription opiates to street drugs like crack cocaine, dramatically alter brain chemistry, worsening underlying depression, paranoia, suicidal tendencies, social isolation, and high-risk behavior.

Soon, it can become nearly impossible for individual mixing drugs and alcohol to understand what mental health symptoms are caused by their addiction, and to distinguish their true reality. As a result, those struggling with simultaneous alcohol and drug abuse will find their best chance of recovery in centers and programs designed specifically for their needs.

The consequences of attempting to manage this addictive cycle alone, aided by controlled substances, are too dangerous to undertake. Instead, medical treatment and recovery services should be sought immediately. In a professional treatment program, such as those found at Resurgence Behavior Health, those struggling with addiction can find support, as well as tailored strategies to help them break free from the different grips of drugs and alcohol and to rebuild a healthy life.

Treatment and Mixing Alcohol Drugs

Mixing alcohol and drugs poses serious risks for overdose and long-term health issues, but it can also result in a combination of withdrawal symptoms that may feel inescapable to the addict. These symptoms can be so extreme that some addicts may attempt suicide to eliminate distress. However, medical detoxification is one of the safest and most effective ways to remove addictive substances from the body, restoring peace of mind after a history of mixing drugs and alcohol.

Afterward, a stay of 90 days or more in a comprehensive treatment center that addresses the physical, psychological, and social aspects of mixing drugs and alcohol would be best for recovery. These treatment centers, such as Resurgence Behavioral Health, will offer those in recovery a variety of counseling and treatment options, including 12-Step programs, spiritual services, peer support, and other options to build resilience and healthy coping skills.

Payment Information

At Resurgence Behavioral Health you are an individual, not a number. Resurgence Behavior Health offers recovery options and payment plans that reflect your unique needs. We accept most PPO insurance and private forms of payment for treatment, and you can even pay for admission online.

Our team will also communicate with your insurance provider on your behalf. Just call our caring team at 855-458-0050 and let the healing begin.

How to Get Help

Are you ready to break free from the cycle of mixing drugs and alcohol? Resurgence Behavioral Health is Orange County’s foremost drug and alcohol treatment center, and you will see why from the moment you walk through the door.

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, freedom from addiction is possible, and our compassionate treatment team includes medical professionals, certified counselors, and licensed therapists – all ready to help you succeed. We understand that no substance addictions are the same and that mixing drugs and alcohol create unique treatment needs.

Resurgence has locations in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, and Fullerton Hills, as well as a beautiful Outpatient Campus – all to help you recover and relax. In addition to these beautiful, serene environments, Resurgence has diverse treatment options to meet your needs.

We can assist with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, peer support, one-to-one therapy, 12-Step programs, family outreach, health and wellness programming, and much more. At Resurgence, you can build the resilience you need and begin the life you deserve.

Call Resurgence Behavioral Health today and experience the difference.

Does your Insurance Cover Rehab?

At Resurgence, we accept most PPO insurance. Verify your insurance now.