When it comes to mixing alcohol and heroin, you should avoid it at all costs. Both alcohol and heroin are central nervous system depressants, which means that they act by slowing down the central nervous system.
Alcohol and heroin have similar effects but impact different parts of the brain. As a result, using these drugs together can actually cause them to have more of an effect than if they were used alone. This can put the person using the drugs in serious danger, as side effects of both drugs are enhanced, as well. For example, the breathing rate can significantly slow and the blood pressure can lower. These are only two of the many dangerous side effects that can occur when mixing alcohol and heroin.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an illegal opioid that is made from morphine. It is derived from the seed pod of opium poppy plants and compounded into powder form. Heroin quickly enters the brain and affects the opioid receptors, causing a euphoric physical and mental sensation.
The illegal substance can be used in a number of ways, including by snorting, smoking, or injecting the substance. Heroin is a highly addictive substance that causes tolerance to quickly build, requiring individuals to use more and more of the drug to get the same effects.
A 2003 survey conducted nationwide from the National Institute on Drug Abuse discovered that at least 3.7 million Americans had used heroin during some point in their lives. In 2010, heroin was responsible for 224,706 ER visits according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Heroin by itself is one of the most dangerous narcotics out there.
Heroin And Alcohol Abuse
There are many dangers that can arise when someone mixes heroin with alcohol. Due to both drugs slowing down the heart rate and breathing, individuals are at risk of falling into a coma or even death. If someone goes into a coma, he or she could be at risk for brain injury that could have lasting effects on the overall quality of life.
Additionally, people mixing heroin and alcohol are more likely to experience a decreased ability to think rationally, which can put them at risk for making dangerous decisions such as driving while intoxicated or sharing needles.
There is also a significant increase in the chance of overdose from one or both of these substances when they are used together. An overdose can be deadly or at the very least leave an individual with lasting brain damage.
Side Effects Of Mixing Heroin With Alcohol
Using heroin on its own is incredibly dangerous, and mixing alcohol with heroin only increases the potential side effects. Using heroin can result in numerous dangerous side effects, including:
- trouble breathing
- slowed mental function
- dry mouth
- flushed skin
- severe itching
Mixing alcohol with heroin can result in these side effects becoming worse as well as an increased risk for slowed breathing and heart rate. Additionally, the side effects of using these two substances together can include extreme lethargy, the inability to think rationally, and an increased risk of overdose. In short, mixing alcohol with heroin is incredibly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Long-Term Risks Of Mixing Heroin And Alcohol
In addition to the immediate effects of using heroin and alcohol together, there are also several long-term effects that can have a lasting impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing. These effects can negatively impact an individual’s ability to function both physically and mentally.
These long-term risks may include:
- organ damage as a result of the substances slowing breathing and heart rate
- liver damage due to the liver’s inability to break down the substances
- damaged immune system, which leaves the body susceptible to chronic illness and disease
- inability to heal from illness and disease
- physical dependence on one or both substances
- addiction to one or both substances
Detox Programs For Heroin And Alcohol Addiction
Withdrawing from heroin or alcohol is the first step on the road to recovery. Most people will need to attend a medically supervised detox program to safely and effectively withdraw from substances. This is especially true for those who have a high level of physical dependence on a drug or alcohol.
A medically supervised detox program provides individuals with a comfortable place to withdraw from substances. It also provides round-the-clock medical supervision to ensure that individuals receive any medication or other medical attention needed for a safe detox process.
Medically supervised detox programs usually last between three to 10 days and are in a hospital setting or a treatment facility. Once someone has completed a detox program, he or she will likely be advised to go on to a treatment program.
Inpatient Treatment For Heroin And Alcohol Abuse
Inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of treatment available for addiction and requires individuals to reside at the treatment facility for an extended period of time. This form of treatment is often suggested for those trying to overcome a heroin or alcohol addiction. How long a person will stay at an inpatient facility will largely depend on his or her condition and situation.
Inpatient drug and alcohol addiction programs offer around-the-clock structure and support. While each treatment center varies, most will center their treatment programs a certain method of recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be used for both alcohol and heroin addiction treatment. For alcohol, certain medications are available to help the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the likelihood of relapse by forcing the person to become ill if alcohol is consumed. For heroin, there are medications that are used to replace the illicit substance. These medications are much safer and provide similar effects but at much lower doses. Individuals are slowly weaned off the replacement drug until it is no longer needed.
If a person is unable to attend inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment, there are other forms of treatment available. These include partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and outpatient treatment. These programs do not require individuals to stay at the facility for several days or weeks, but rather allow patients to return home after treatment.
To learn more about the interactions and side effects that come with mixing heroin and alcohol, contact us today.
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — Heroin