The late actor Heath Ledger’s last words were recently released by his sister, the last person he spoke with before his accidental overdose. As she warned him of the danger that comes with combining medications he argued to her “It’ll be fine.” He passed in his sleep that night.
Mixing medications, prescriptions, and other substances with one another may be “fine” for some period of time, but it can end tragically, as in Heath Ledger’s case. Combining alcohol and common drugs create a great risk for overdose, heart failure, or death.
Alcohol and Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are prescribed to primarily treat anxiety. Brand name “benzos” such as Xanax are easily abused and can become an addiction. Abusing Xanax can result in a euphoric state and feelings of deep relaxation. Benzos are depressants, as is alcohol. Combining the two depressants can cause a severe repression in the nervous system which could result in coma or death.
Alcohol and Opiates
Opiates prescribed for pain are known for slowing the heart to a potentially fatal halt. Morphine is the main ingredient in opiate painkillers, which is derived from heroin. A natural analgesic and depressant, an opiate works against pain by slowing down the heart. 22 percent of deaths caused by prescription painkillers included the use of alcohol. Opiates for abuse can include prescription painkillers like Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, and Percocet. Street drugs like heroin are opiates as well.
Alcohol and Stimulants
Stimulants such as study drugs or cocaine do not usually work well with depressant substances like alcohol. Adderall, methamphetamines (crystal meth) and cocaine have all been studied to examine how they relate to one another. Studies have found there is no great difference in how they interact with the brain and the body. Stimulants, quite appropriate to their name, speed things up in the system. Combining the depressing effects of alcohol with the stimulant drugs it puts a confusing pressure on the heart. Without any notice, the heart cannot take the toxic combination.
Alcohol and Antidepressants
Antidepressants usually come with a warning to not be mixed with alcohol. Combining alcohol and antidepressants can result in heightened symptoms of alcoholic intoxication, including blackout. For every drink taken with antidepressants, it can feel like a multiplication. The effects hit harder and faster than drinking alcohol on its own. Effects can feel reversed in the antidepressants. Rather than alleviating symptoms of depression, alcohol, being a depressant, can intensify the effects. Additionally, some of the side effects of antidepressants are enhanced due to alcohol. Cognitive impairment issues like judgment and confusion are magnified, putting someone at risk for injury or accidental death.
If you are concerned you or a loved one may be putting themselves in danger combining drugs and alcohol, call Refuge Recovery today. We are open to men and women seeking treatment for their attachment to substance abuse of any level. Combining evidence-based treatment with Buddhist-based philosophy allows us to heal our residents and give them the life skills they need to live full lives. For more information please call 323-207-0276.