Alcohol and Cocaine: The Dangers Associated with This Polysubstance Use

alcohol and cocaine polysubstance abuse

Alcohol and Cocaine Use: The Dangerous Facts

Alcohol and cocaine use are unfortunately commonly abused polysubstances. Every person that faces substance abuse and/or addiction has their own reasons for use; although it is common for a lot of users to share similar abuse stories, no ones story is completely the same. Many that abuse alcohol and cocaine together do so because it prolongs the “high” when combined versus using only one of the substances at a time and gives a false sense that things are better with the dual substance abuse. Let’s break down the substances individually and try to understand the real effects it has on our lives and bodies.

Alcohol Use – In this day and age, most adults regularly drink alcohol. 86.3 percent of all adults in the US ranging between the ages of 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime, according to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In addition, it was reported that 70.1 percent of those adults had drank alcohol within the past year and 55.9 percent of which was reported that they had drank alcohol within the past 30 days. Although those numbers do not mean that those surveyed adults will have abuse or addiction associated with the use of alcohol, it does mean that the chance of abuse or addiction to alcohol can be more likely. 

The possible side effects of alcohol abuse are listed below:

  • Shorter attention span
  • Lack of fine motor coordination
  • Impairment of judgment
  • Sedation
  • Loss of memory and lack of comprehension
  • Delayed motor reactions
  • Balance problems and ataxia
  • Blurred vision and sensation impairment
  • In and out of consciousness or complete unconsciousness
  • Amnesia during the events while intoxicated
  • Staggering gait
  • Vomiting with aspiration
  • Respiratory depression
  • Incontinence of urine
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Comatose
  • Lack of pupillary response to light
  • Life-threatening respiratory depression
  • Severe decrease in heart rate
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms
  • Death

Cocaine Use – Cocaine use in either powdered form or freebase, aka crack, is abused by numerous people within the United States. In 2015, it is reported by The Center for Disease Control (CDC) that 5.2 percent of people had used cocaine at some point within their lives. Although cocaine use is on a slow and steady decrease amongst most Americans, it was further reported by the CDC in 2016, that 2.3 percent of seniors in high school had tried cocaine in either powder or its freebase form. This is alarming for any person or parent in these already difficult times in which we all currently live. 

The possible side effects of cocaine abuse are listed below:

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch, sound, and sight
  • Intense happiness or overactivity (hyperness)
  • Anger and/or irritability
  • Paranoid feeling
  • Decreased or no appetite
  • Headaches
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
  • Mood problems
  • Sexual problems
  • Lung damage
  • HIV or hepatitis 
  • Bowel decay 
  • Loss of smell, nosebleeds, runny nose, and trouble swallowing
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms

What is Polysubstance Abuse?

Polysubstance abuse or dependence means that someone is psychologically addicted to being in an intoxicated state with more than one substance at a time. There are a lot of substances for people to abuse but one of the most common abused polysubstances are alcohol and cocaine use. 

Ten Most Commonly Abused Substances in the United States:

  • Tobacco (nicotine) – 40+ Million Users
  • Alcohol – 18 Million Users
  • Marijuana – 4.2 Million Users
  • Painkillers – 1.8 Million Users
  • Cocaine – 821,000 Users
  • Heroin – 426,000 Users
  • Benzodiazepines (benzos) – 400,000 Users
  • Stimulants – 329,000 Users
  • Inhalants – 140,000 Users
  • Sedatives (barbiturates) – 78,000 Users

Although there are many combinations of abused substances, there are some that are more commonly abused. Let’s explore some of these polysubstances.

Polysubstance Use: Alcohol and Cocaine

Alcohol and cocaine are the most commonly combined substances abused. When someone who drinks alcohol combines it with cocaine use, the amount of cocaine in their system is shown to increase by upwards of 30 percent. A psychoactive metabolite called cocaethylene, is produced by the body and remains in the blood for a much longer period of time, and is shown to increase blood pressure and the heart rate. This can be very dangerous because it can lead to more serious health problems within the body’s cardiovascular system. It is also more likely for the user to consume more alcohol since cocaine will reduce the perception of the effects of alcohol. 

Polysubstance Use: Opioids and Benzodiazepines

Opioids and benzodiazepine substances are central nervous system depressants. Combining the two substances can result in respiratory depression that can potentially lead to an overdose and often resulting in death. The combined substances restrict the oxygen flow to the brain which can cause permanent brain damage and/or impairment, even resulting in death. Benzodiazepines do not metabolize as quickly by drug users that are older in age, and it actually increases the risk of respiratory complications.

Polysubstance Use: Prescription and Illicit Drugs

Unfortunately, a lot of people “believe” that prescription drug use is safer to abuse than illicit drugs. Largely because the substances are prescribed by a medical doctor. This is simply not the case. Many prescription drugs are almost identical in their chemical formulation to those considered to be illicit drugs. Polysubstance use that includes prescription drugs is no less dangerous to the user than those that abuse substances that are considered illicit drugs. 

Alcohol and Cocaine Abuse and/or Addiction: How To Stop

No one sets out to be addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Some alcoholics and/or addicts don’t realize that they can get help to stop their polysubstance abuse with alcohol and cocaine by participating in detoxification (detox), or they may be too embarrassed or afraid to even ask for help. A drug detox program helps you do that in a safe, comfortable way. In the old days, people had to go through polysubstance detox and withdrawal on their own. This was not only unpleasant but in many cases unsafe and sometimes even resulting in death. Thankfully, insurance companies now consider drug and/or alcohol addiction to be a disease and this has safely created these types of addiction treatment centers. 

Detox programs were created to help you detox from polysubstance abuse from alcohol and cocaine in a medically supervised setting that is welcoming, compassionate and committed to helping you feel better. Going to a detox program ensures that you will be safe while detoxing, and also get the emotional support you need throughout the process. If you or someone you love is struggling with abuse from alcohol and/or cocaine, it is important to know that you are not alone and that addiction is a treatable illness that can be overcome with support, understanding and with medical professional help.

When seeking detox through addiction treatment programs from the use of alcohol and cocaine there are many factors to consider. For example, patient health, safety, comfort, and privacy are priorities for these types of treatment facilities. In addition to safe, effective medically supervised detox protocols, patients can expect to experience a variety of addiction treatment services and amenities.

Most Detox Programs Offer:

  • Soothing holistic treatment therapies
  • Clinical counseling
  • Nutritious prepared meals
  • Comfortable living areas

They also offer tranquil surroundings that help bring peace and a sense of calm. While going through the many stages of alcohol and cocaine detox, maintaining your privacy is also important. These treatment programs give addicts a real chance by ridding the body of alcohol and cocaine use and then assisting with a specially designed addiction treatment plan. 

Alcohol and Cocaine Detox Programs: Will Your Health Insurance Pay for Detox?

The answer is typically yes! However, most insurance companies require policyholders to choose from an approved medical provider list, and usually, there will be some costs associated with these types of addiction treatment programs like co-pays or cost-share insurance programs. Finding out what kind of health care insurance policy you have or what exactly is covered is important so contacting your insurance agent is one way to determine what you can afford. 

In addition, alcohol and cocaine detox programs have medical professionals on staff who are highly trained to assist you while dealing with insurance companies, and they can answer questions about coverage quickly and efficiently and even assist you with getting the approvals.

Coastal Detox: A Detox Program Ready to Provide the Help You Need to Stop Using Alcohol and Cocaine

If you need treatment for addiction from the use of alcohol and cocaine abuse, Coastal Detox, in sunny South Florida, is eager to help you fight and win the battle over polysubstance abuse. They have a long-trusted reputation within the addiction treatment industry and truly understand how valuable it is to have all the information you need for recovery. 

At Coastal Detox, providing the best care possible for their clients is the ultimate goal. Every person suffering from the holds of addiction from alcohol and cocaine can rest assured that their detox program is prepared to provide the best path towards your freedom from polysubstance abuse. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; Coastal Detox located in Stuart, Florida will help you along your journey as they have for thousands of others. For any and all inquiries, please call Coastal Detox today at (877) 406-6623 to speak with one of their addiction treatment specialists.

 

References:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/10-most-common-addictions/

https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/effects/

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/cocaine-use-and-its-effects#1

 

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.