A medicine bottle on the nightstand  after mixing alcohol and drugs

Is it Dangerous to Mix Alcohol and Other Drugs?

This entry was posted on .

It may seem to be a common behavior to mix alcohol and other drugs, but it has serious health risks that could be life-threatening. Also known as poly-drug abuse, when you mix alcohol and other drugs through experimentation, it can quickly lead to an overdose. It might not always be intentional, either.

Often, drugs sold on the street or handed out at parties contain synthetic additives. The most common and deadly synthetic is fentanyl, which has been found in many common drugs like Xanax, Oxycodone, and cocaine. [1] It may seem like a good way to get a more intense high, but mixing drugs and alcohol could be the last thing you do.

Depressants vs. Stimulants

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down the body’s processes, including heart rate and breathing. Most drugs that people mix with their drinks are stimulants, which have the opposite effect.

Combining alcohol and cocaine, for example, can cause dangerous side-effects. Most drugs and alcohol are not compatible on a chemical level. When they are combined in your bloodstream, they have negative reactions that increase your risk of heart failure, respiratory failure, heart attack, and stroke.

There are many cases when someone takes cocaine and alcohol (or another combination) and literally drops dead. The immediate overdose is caused by sudden and acute cardiac arrest and/or respiratory failure, which leads to suffocation (asphyxiation).

Whether you are not aware of the risks or don’t care about them, you’re gambling your life when you mix alcohol with other drugs.

Common Drug Combinations

There are many ways you can mix alcohol with other drugs. Some people do this for fun, while others do so without thinking.

Polysubstance abuse is the act of mixing multiple drugs in a short period of time. This is not the same as co-occurring substance use disorders, where a person is addicted to two or more substances simultaneously. Both are dangerous and deadly, but poly-drug/polysubstance abuse has even more immediate risks that can be impossible to stop before they take your life.

Alcohol and Painkillers

Many people combine their drink of choice with a few painkillers to feel completely numb, fall asleep, or drift away from difficult feelings and thoughts. Both are depressants, so you run the risk of slowing your heart and breathing to the point they stop. [2]


Cocaine and heroin are two of the most addictive drugs you can take. Mixing them creates what is known as a “speedball,” and it increases the risk of both addiction and fatal overdose. Cocaine is a stimulant; heroin is a depressant. While the first speeds up your nervous system, the latter slows it down. This can lead to sudden difficulty breathing and changes in your heart rate that lead to death. The majority of heroin overdoses are caused by people mixing it with other drugs.

Mixing Opioids

Also known as the “gray death,” combining various types of opioids can suppress the nervous system to the point of failure. Heroin and fentanyl combinations are on the rise, and some people are now taking them together intentionally. This is one of the deadliest and worst things you can do to yourself.

Warning Signs of a Deadly Combination

While every combination of substances should be avoided, some pose more immediate threats than others. However, every person’s body is different. You never know how yours is going to react if you mix alcohol and other drugs. Just because someone else takes something and lives does not mean the same will be true for you. It is also possible to experience a different reaction every time. You may mix two or three substances once and survive only to suffer an overdose the next.

Symptoms and risks of combining alcohol and other drugs include: [3]

  • Seizures
  • Internal bleeding.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Heart attack or stroke.
  • Liver damage or failure.
  • Loss of consciousness/coma.
  • Fall injuries including head trauma and brain damage.

Getting Help – Don’t Mix Alcohol and Other Drugs

It is never the wrong time for you to get help for substance abuse. The decision to reach out and get treatment is a choice to save your life. Addiction is deadly no matter how long it takes to eventually kill. Don’t waste another day harming yourself and those who care about you.

Many different forms of rehab and therapy can help you get sober. It all starts with the admission you have a problem. From there, you can work with professionals to detox, address your addiction from within and build a healthier life.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, reach out to Ocean Hills Recovery today. Our compassionate staff is ready to help you take the next steps toward lasting recovery.



[1] https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2020/08/06/alarming-spike-fentanyl-related-overdose-deaths-leads-officials-issue

[2] https://drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/mixing-heroin-alcohol-drugs

[3] https://uhs.umich.edu/combine

About the author: