Cocaine and alcohol addiction
Cocaine and alcohol – why do these two substances often get used in combination? Cocaine is a stimulant. Which usually gives a ‘high’. Making the individual feel more alert, talkative, energised, sensitive to surroundings. And happy from a boost of dopamine in the brain. Alcohol is a depressant. It affects mood, thinking, mobility, behaviour and judgement. The two can be used together if someone, after a heavy drinking session, needs or wants to tap into reserves of energy to keep awake and active.
Cocaine and alcohol – dangers of combined use
Cocaine will provide this quickly and will last for a period of time from several minutes to a few hours. So use of cocaine can be a consequence of drinking too much and needing an energy boost. However, the two substances can also be used the other way round. Alcohol can be imbibed to help with the withdrawal effects from cocaine – which can include feelings of anxiety.
Drinking alcohol can also lead to cravings for cocaine – leading to a vicious circle of use. Which can lead to damage to physical health, such as toxic levels of cocaine metabolites building up in the liver. And the increase in the risk of strokes and heart problems (as use of cocaine also increases and affects heart rate and rhythm, and blood pressure). The risk of suffering from these effects are not just at the time of use but can continue for many days, even weeks, after.
It is well known that heavy drinking (without any cocaine use) can damage the liver. If cocaine is also used, a metabolite called cocaethylene can build up in the liver and other organs, including the heart. This is a strong toxin. Use of alcohol and cocaine can also increase the risk of blood clots and bleeds on the brain. And shrink the blood vessels. The cocaine use in particular can also lead to risky impulsive behaviour (even violence), panic attacks, anxiety and depression. And of course it is well known that cocaine use leads to the destruction of the septum, causing nose malformation.
Please see our page with more general information on addictions – it also contains links to pages on specific addiction.
Treatment is available
Robin Williams was a very well known cocaine and alcohol addict. And his addiction ultimately led to his death. More addicts die due to suicide or accidental overdose than die from the physical consequences of the addiction.
So are you an alcohol and cocaine addict who knows they must do something about the addiction? Or are you worried about someone in this situation? The good news is that something can be done about it. And anyone who wants to can recover from the addiction. Successful recovery requires a desire to stop, and a willingness to be open and honest and to change.
Alcohol and drug rehab can be the key to success. Treatment will involve detox. Usually there is medication as it can be dangerous to stop drinking if the habit is everyday in significant amounts. And counselling / therapy to get to the route of the psychological addiction. For recovery to be long term and sustainable it is important to commit to total abstinence. This sounds quite scary until you are actually doing it. Using the tools you would have been given at the rehab clinic. And then it becomes a much preferred way of life.