Cocaine and Alcohol – Cocaine and alcohol are frequently consumed together – people are sometimes seeking an enhanced effect, and other times, alcohol is used to help reduce the symptoms of a cocaine comedown. In either case, using cocaine and alcohol together can be even more dangerous than when abusing either drug alone.
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it slows activity in the brain and body. Alcohol consumption, however, results in a huge surge of dopamine, a chemical that is associated with feelings of euphoria. It is this intense feeling of well-being that, at least at first, masks alcohol’s depressant effects.
Cocaine, on the other hand, is a CNS stimulant, meaning that it increases, rather than suppresses activity in the body. Mixing cocaine and alcohol, therefore, results in a sort of conflict of interests, so to speak, from the brain and body’s perspective.
Cocaethylene – An Unexpected By-Product
Cocaethylene is a chemical that is formed as the byproduct of the combined use of cocaine and alcohol metabolized by the liver. In fact, cocaethylene is the only known example of the development of a third drug in the human body after the consumption of two others.
Cocaethylene is toxic in the liver, has a longer duration of action than cocaine, and is also thought responsible for many cardiac arrests among younger people in their 20s and 30’s.
But in fact, very little is known about the drug and its potential threat to users, other than it may be even more toxic to the heart, possibly carrying a much higher risk of sudden death.
Where Does Cocaine Come From?
The purest form of cocaine, cocaine hydrochloride, is a substance derived from the coca plant native to South America. While the coca leaf itself has stimulating effects, it is this powerful chemical isolated from the plant that makes cocaine both desirable as a drug and very dangerous.
Methods of Use
Cocaine powder is most commonly aspirated or “snorted.” However, some users inject it. Snorting cocaine can lead to frequent nosebleeds, infections, and irreversible damage to the nasal septum and surrounding tissues.
Injecting cocaine into a blood vessel or under the skin can result in damage to both the veins and skin, including sores, abscesses, and infections.
Smoking cocaine increases the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia.
Alcohol addiction, however, even without the presence of other drug use can be very destructive and have devasting consequences. It can result in mental and health problems, legal issues, and family/social conflicts.
Alcohol addiction is characterized by the excessive use of alcohol, tolerance, and dependency. Tolerance is a term to describe how the body becomes desensitized to alcohol use, and therefore, over time, more is needed to achieve intoxication.
Dependency occurs when the brain becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence and can no longer function “normally” without it. When the drinker tries to drastically cut back or quit altogether, unpleasant withdrawal effects result.