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The Dangers of Drinking and Drugs


Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/23/2022

Mixing alcohol with drugs is dangerous. Drugs can be anything from prescription medications to illegal substances like cocaine. Mixing alcohol with these substances can lead to many adverse effects. The side effects of drugs can become worse, medications can become less effective, and the risk of overdose increases. For these reasons, we never recommend mixing alcohol with drugs unless you consult with your doctor.

The combination of alcohol and drugs can also result in other problems. People can become dependent on drugs and alcohol when both substances are abused and withdrawal symptoms can be worse. Mixing alcohol with drugs also increases the risk of alcohol poisoning occurring and other alcohol-related problems. Ultimately, there are a lot of risks that come with mixing alcohol and drugs.

We’re going to take you through everything you need to know about the dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol. Read on to learn more below.

What is the Relationship Between Drinking and Drugs?

The relationship between drinking and drugs varies. Ultimately, it depends on what type of drug is being mixed with alcohol. While some drugs have no impact on alcohol and its effects, some drugs can make alcohol feel more or less intoxicating. 

For example, amphetamines can make alcohol feel less intoxicating. However, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) remains the same. When this occurs, the risk of alcohol poisoning increases. On the other hand, depressant medications like some antidepressants can amplify the effects of alcohol intoxication. When alcohol affects are amplified people become more drowsy and the risk of losing consciousness increases.

Alcohol can also make drugs less effective. Some types of antibiotics become less effective when mixed with alcohol because of alcohol’s impact on the immune system. Alcohol reduces the number of white blood cells in the body, so alcohol abusers can struggle to fight infections –even with antibiotics.

It’s not safe to mix alcohol and drugs, which makes the relationship between alcohol and drugs dangerous. When mixing alcohol with certain medications, make sure you consult with your healthcare provider before doing so. In some situations, alcohol and drugs can be safe but it’s important to know this before mixing medications or drugs with alcohol.

What are the Short-Term Effects of Drinking and Drugs?

The short-term effects of drinking and drugs vary based on the drugs that alcohol is mixed with. Some drugs can cause adverse reactions to alcohol, so knowing the potential side effects is important. Alcohol can also cause unique reactions when mixed with drugs depending on the individual. So, it’s important to consult with a doctor before mixing alcohol and drugs. Plus, some short-term effects of drugs and alcohol can lead to overdose, alcohol poisoning, and death (in serious cases).

Mixing alcohol with depressants in the short term can lead to amplified effects of alcohol intoxication. Some of these symptoms are listed below.

  • Slowed heart rate 
  • Slowed breathing
  • Increased risk of mental health disorders 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Amplified effects of alcohol

These are a handful of interactions that occur when mixing alcohol and depressants.

Mixing alcohol and stimulants can also cause problems but they’re different from alcohol’s interaction with depressants. Alcohol and stimulants can lead to side effects that are listed below.

  • Increased heart rate
  • A reduction in alcohol’s intoxicating effects increases the risk of alcohol poisoning 
  • Heart attack 
  • Stroke 
  • Mental health changes 
  • Mood swings

Stimulants can vary in potency and range from coffee to amphetamines. 

Alcohol and other drugs can also lead to short-term problems. Some general interactions between alcohol and drugs are listed below.

  • Changes in heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Increased or decreased alcohol potency 
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Flushing 
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping or loss of consciousness 
  • Confusion 
  • Hallucinations

Before mixing alcohol with any type of drug it’s important to understand the reaction between both substances. Knowing how alcohol interacts with drugs can help you make healthy choices and avoid potentially dangerous interactions.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Drinking and Drugs?

The long-term effects of drinking and drugs vary based on the drug but the result is typically not a good one. Abusing drugs and alcohol over long periods can lead to co-occurring dependencies and damage the liver. Mixing drugs and alcohol for many years can also damage the brain and other organs like the kidneys. 

Some prescription medications are safe to mix with alcohol (occasionally) but others can amplify the damage caused by alcohol and drug abuse. In many cases, abusing alcohol and drugs over long periods leads to a compounding effect of damage to the body and brain. 

Below are the long-term effects of alcohol and drug abuse.

  • Mood disorders 
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of liver disease (fatty liver disease and liver failure)
  • Kidney problems
  • Stomach problems 
  • Increased risk of cancer 
  • Damage to the brain that can lead to brain damage 
  • Alcohol and drug addiction (co-occurring disorders) 
  • More dangerous symptoms of withdrawal 
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 

Mixing alcohol and drugs over long periods can result in many problems. Aside from the physical and mental damage that alcohol and drug abuse causes, mixing alcohol and drugs can also damage the relationships between family members. This isolation can increase the risk of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

What are the Dangers of Drinking and Drugs?

Mixing alcohol and drugs is dangerous. When alcohol and drugs are mixed the risk of overdose and death increases. Furthermore, mixing drugs and alcohol can increase the risk of a substance abuse disorder developing. Mixing drugs and alcohol can also lead to co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression. Overall, mixing alcohol and drugs is dangerous and should not be done unless you know the risks and have spoken with a medical professional.

Below are the dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol.

  • Death
  • Coma
  • Overdose
  • Alcohol poisoning 
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Changes in breathing 
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Isolation
  • Increased risk of mental health disorders 
  • Increased risk of developing an addiction
  • Liver damage 
  • Kidney damage 
  • Brain damage

Mixing drugs and alcohol can lead to many medical complications. Some complications occur within a few hours of mixing drugs and alcohol but some problems won’t surface until many years later. Unfortunately, abusing alcohol and drugs for many years typically leads to life-changing damage to organs in the body.

What are the Signs of Alcohol Addiction?

Several signs point toward alcohol addiction. These signs vary based on the individual and how long alcohol has been abused. For example, binge drinking is a sign of alcohol addiction that’s found in the early stages of alcoholism, whereas isolation from family is found in the late stages of alcoholism. There are also several stages of alcoholism and each stage has unique signs of addiction. 

First and foremost, the early stages of alcohol addiction seem harmless. The signs of early alcohol addiction include changes in drinking patterns, new friends, bouts of binge drinking, and fatigue from hangovers. The early stages of alcoholism can also feel less like addiction and more like a means to have a good time. It’s for this reason that many adolescents and young adults develop alcohol addictions at a young age. Drinking more than a few drinks per day is alcohol addiction and for many people, this can begin before the legal drinking age of 21.

Moving on, signs of alcohol addiction in the later stages are harder to find. This is because some people are functional alcoholics and can hold a job and maintain relationships. The signs of a functional alcoholic are harder to find but include having a few drinks each day. Whether that’s beer, liquor, or a few glasses of wine. 

On the other hand, people who are not functional alcoholics have more obvious signs. These signs of alcoholism are listed below.

  • Trouble maintaining relationships with family
  • Isolation
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Changes in mood
  • Drinking daily
  • Finding excuses to drink
  • Ending every night with a trip to the bar 
  • Trouble keeping a job

Signs of alcohol abuse disorder (AUD) can also be physical. People will have more aged-looking skin, flushing, and higher body fat percentages. Additionally, many alcoholics can look sickly as they enter older age groups (65+). Someone always getting sick can also be a sign of alcoholism because of the reduced white blood cell count that alcohol creates.

Can Someone be Addicted To Alcohol and Drugs?

Yes, someone can be addicted to alcohol and drugs. People can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, or drugs and alcohol together. When someone abuses drugs with alcohol the risk of forming co-occurring addictions increases. Someone who combines alcohol with Xanax each day, for example, has an increased risk of mixing alcohol with Xanax in the future. Being addicted to alcohol and drugs also makes it more challenging to quit drinking.

Can you Drink Alcohol with Xanax?

No, you can’t drink alcohol with Xanax. Drinking alcohol with Xanax can lead to several adverse effects because Xanax is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant like alcohol. When alcohol and Xanax have combined the effects of each substance are amplified. This can increase the risk of drowsiness, fatigue, and loss of consciousness. Mixing alcohol with Xanax can also lead to confusion.

Other risks come with mixing Xanax and alcohol. Firstly, Xanax becomes less effective when mixed with alcohol because it has a harder time reducing anxiety. This is because alcohol and Xanax bind to similar receptors in the brain. Mixing alcohol and Xanax is also dangerous because the risk of developing an addiction to both substances increases when they’re mixed.

Can You Drink Alcohol with Ibuprofen?

In small amounts, alcohol and ibuprofen do not lead to problems when mixed. Therefore, you can have one or two standard drinks when taking ibuprofen. While ibuprofen is safe to mix with alcohol in small doses, this changes when large quantities of both substances are involved. 

Combining large amounts of alcohol and ibuprofen can lead to changes in heart rate and blood pressure. These changes can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Large quantities of alcohol can also make ibuprofen less effective at treating things like headaches, especially when alcohol causes headaches during hangovers.

When it comes to mixing alcohol and ibuprofen the risk of death is low but it’s important to use your discretion. It also helps to consult with a doctor.

Can you Drink Alcohol with Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is used to treat infections. We recommend against mixing alcohol with amoxicillin because the body’s ability to fight infections is limited when under the influence of alcohol. While having a few standard drinks does not damage the immune system, binge drinking and daily alcohol consumption can limit the body’s white blood cell count. When this occurs, infections can thrive within the body.

Mixing alcohol and amoxicillin can also cause adverse effects. The side effects of amoxicillin become amplified, which can lead to stomach discomfort and headaches. Dehydration also becomes a concern when mixing alcohol with medications like amoxicillin. While it’s safe to have a few drinks when taking amoxicillin, abusing alcohol will lead to complications and slowed recovery from infection.

Can you Drink Alcohol with Antidepressants?

No, you can’t drink alcohol with antidepressants. Mixing alcohol with antidepressants can make the medication less effective and amplify the effects of alcohol. Drinking alcohol with antidepressants can also result in negative emotions and mood changes. For these reasons, you should avoid drinking alcohol when taking medications like Lexapro.

Furthermore, you should not drink alcohol with anti-anxiety medications either. These medications interact with the brain in similar ways as antidepressants and some medications are used interchangeably or together. While it’s okay to have a few standard drinks when taking antidepressants, consuming any more than a few standard drinks per week can reduce the effectiveness of the medication. If possible, consult with your doctor before mixing any medication. 

Can you drink alcohol with Oxycodone?

No, you should never drink alcohol with oxycodone. Even small quantities of alcohol can lead to negative side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Consuming alcohol and oxycodone also increases the risk of developing an addiction to oxycodone and alcohol. This is a co-occurring addiction that’s harder to treat than an addiction to just alcohol.

Additionally, you should never mix alcohol with other opioid-based medications. Substances like heroin and other drugs that contain opioids can increase the risk of overdose, addiction, and alcohol poisoning. Consult with your healthcare provider before mixing alcohol and opioids.