A Dangerous Practice: Combining Substances of Abuse

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A Dangerous Practice: Combining Substances of Abuse

Combining substances of abuse, whether intentional or unintentional, is a very dangerous practice and can even be deadly.  Sometimes individuals may drink alcohol with a prescription drug when there is a warning on the prescription bottle not to do so. They may not have read the warning on the bottle so this would be unintentional. Then again, there are some individuals who use illicit drugs that will combine them to enhance the “high” that they experience.

Intentionally Combining Substances of Abuse

Two illegal street drugs that users often combine are heroin and cocaine. The slang name for this is “speedballing.” The user mixes the heroin and cocaine together and either snort it nasally or injects it into the bloodstream. Users who speedball say that they have a longer-lasting and more intense high than when they use the two drugs separately. Speedballing is very dangerous and can lead to an overdose, maybe even a fatal overdose.

Combining a stimulant with a depressant stresses the entire system of the user, the brain, lungs, and heart especially. While one drug is trying to speed up the system the other is trying to slow it down.

Some of the fatal side effects associated with speedballing include:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm

The effects of cocaine wear off more quickly than the effects of heroin. Therefore, the slowed respiration due to the heroin will become more intense when the cocaine effects are gone.

Combining Alcohol with Other Substances

Combining substances of abuse such as alcohol and prescription opioids is fairly common today. Many individuals who misuse prescription drugs also engage in binge drinking. Misusing these two substances together can easily lead to a fatal overdose. Prescription opioids are dangerous when taken alone. However, combining them with alcohol increases the dangers of depressed breathing leading to death.

Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol can also lead to overdose and death. Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium. These drugs act on GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors. In the same way, alcohol acts on these same receptors in the brain. People may use alcohol to enhance the effects of the benzodiazepine or use the Benzo to enhance the effects of alcohol. These combinations also can lead to overdose and death.

Another bad combination of substances is stimulants and alcohol. Many college students abuse central nervous system stimulants such as Adderall. In fact, students who have prescriptions for medication for ADHD often sell these drugs to other students. They use them as “study drugs” when they have to cram for a test or stay up all night doing research for projects. In addition, they will take the stimulants along with alcohol when they are partying.

The stimulant will mask the effects of the alcohol and the individual does not realize that they are drinking far too much. In cases such as these, alcohol poisoning can easily occur. In fact, many times the individual will also take more of the stimulant drug leading to an overdose. There is an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack. There is also the potential for liver and kidney damage from combining these two substances.

The Dangers of Street Drugs

When individuals buy drugs from dealers on the street, they have no idea what is actually in the substance they are purchasing. There have been many cases of drug overdoses when heroin is combined with fentanyl. The person may think they are buying straight heroin when in fact, the heroin is laced with other drugs.

In addition, there is no way of knowing how pure the heroin may be. Dealers will cut this drug with other products to increase their profits from the substance. They may add talcum powder or baking soda or maybe some substance that can be dangerous to the user.

Contact A Forever Recovery

If you are struggling with addiction or combining substances of abuse, seek help from a reputable addiction treatment facility. Do not continue taking chances with your life. Combining substances of abuse is dangerous and oftentimes, deadly.

Contact one of our representatives at A Forever Recovery to learn about the different treatment programs that we offer. We can design a program that will fit your individual needs and preferences. Don’t wait any longer. Contact us today!


  • cdc.gov – More than Half of People who Misuse Prescription Opioids also Binge Drink

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