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The Dangers of Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol

Posted on February 8, 2022

The Dangers of Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol

When it comes to recreational substances, there are few with more impactful and dangerous effects than cocaine and alcohol.

In terms of potential to cause physical and psychological harm, these two substances are unfortunately among the worst, and alcohol actually has the capacity to cause life-threatening complications when individuals become addicted and then try to stop their usage.

By themselves, these substances can easily pose a threat, but this is effectively doubled when both are used at the same time. Mixing cocaine and alcohol creates its own unique dangers, so what do you need to know?

Cocaine and alcohol – what are they?

Before taking a look at the effects of combining cocaine and alcohol, it is first important to understand what each substance is and the physical and behavioural effects they have individually.


Firstly, cocaine is a stimulant, meaning it energises the body and causes an individual to experience an intense, euphoric ‘high’ where they feel incredibly excitable and lively.

The effects of cocaine include:

  • Enhanced mental alertness
  • Risk-taking behaviour
  • High blood pressure and fast heart rate
  • High body temperature
  • Restlessness and aggression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lack of appetite


On the other hand, alcohol has quite a different effect. As a depressant, it soothes and relaxes the body, taking energy away and promoting a calm, lethargic ‘high’.

The effects of alcohol include:

  • Lack of coordination and concentration
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor judgement
  • Slow heart rate and low blood pressure
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Nausea

The physical effects of mixing

As a result of these contrasting influences on the body, combining cocaine and alcohol can spark extreme and often dangerous effects.

The most serious way in which this mixing can impact the physical body is via the production of Cocaethylene, a substance even more dangerous than either cocaine or alcohol alone [1].

When cocaine and alcohol enter the body together and simultaneously metabolise within the liver, the organ produces Cocaethylene, a product that builds up quickly and puts organs such as the liver, heart and lungs under intense strain.

When this occurs, serious defects can arise such as heart attack, brain haemorrhage, and the development of heart disease. In more serious instances, the production of Cocaethylene can cause sudden death.

In addition to this, mixing cocaine and alcohol can also cause other physical complications. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Breathing complications
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Problems with coordination
  • Vision problems
  • Nausea
  • Increased risk of developing cancer
  • Increased risk of stroke

The mental effects of mixing

In addition to the ways in which this mixing of substances affects the body, the impacts on mental and emotional stability should also be considered. While the combination of stimulant and depressant influences can be felt physically, an individual’s mind can suffer just as much.

Some of the key mental effects of mixing cocaine and alcohol include:

  • Poor judgement and decision-making
  • Loss of inhibitions and increase risk-taking
  • Lack of motor skills
  • Emotional instability/mood swings
  • Intense anxiety and paranoia
  • Strong cravings for more cocaine or alcohol
  • Cognitive complications, including poor memory and lack of reasoning skills

While these effects predominantly relate to changes in an individual’s ability to think and feel as they usually would, they can indirectly pose risks to physical health as well.

For example, an individual’s increased willingness to take risks combined, with their impaired coordination and motor skills, can increase their chances of having an accident and seriously hurting themselves.

As well as this, these effects can also increase an individual’s chances of developing an addiction for either cocaine or alcohol. Cravings and impulsiveness – in combination with the high abuse risk which comes with cocaine and alcohol – can spark continued use of either substance.

Developing an addiction poses its own risks, and individuals can experience further physical and psychological damage as a result.

Why do people use both?

Combining different substances is quite common among those who frequently use recreational drugs. The connection between cocaine and alcohol, however, is more than a coincidence, and there are known reasons why these two in particular are often used at the same time.

Firstly, the existing relationship between cocaine and alcohol is likely a result of their mutual status as recreational party drugs. Both are known to be consumed at parties or in clubs, and they are therefore both often present and abundant in these types of situations. As a result, both are likely to be consumed in the same night, allowing them to mix within the body.

Secondly, the nature of addiction can often cause individuals to use more than one substance at once. When an individual begins abusing cocaine or alcohol, it is common for them to also crave the other when they are ‘high’ as it can often have an intensifying effect on their current euphoria [2].

Finally, the desire to consume both drugs can be a result of their contrasting effects. As stimulants, cocaine increases energy and productivity, and as a depressant, alcohol causes the opposite. As a result, it is known for people using either cocaine or alcohol to use the other substance as a means of combatting the effects they are currently feeling.

Those currently on cocaine may use alcohol to relax them or calm their on-edge nerves, and others on alcohol can turn to cocaine to boost their productivity or keep them awake.

How long do they stay in the body?

For those who have used cocaine and alcohol at the same time in the past, realising the potential dangers of mixing the two can be an eye-opener. Equally, learning the potential risks might cause them to develop concern in regards to someone else’s substance use.

As a result, the amount of time cocaine and alcohol stay in the body’s system might be of interest.


When the body breaks cocaine down, it divides the substance into two kinds of metabolites which the body removes via urine. These remain in the urine for up to 36 hours, but can remain in the blood (2 days) and hair (several months) for longer.


Alcohol, on the other hand, passes through the digestive system and is partially reabsorbed into the bloodstream before being filtered by the liver. It can remain in the blood for 6 hours, the urine for 24 hours, and in the hair for up to 90 days.


When cocaine and alcohol are mixed, Cocaethylene can remain in the body for days and weeks. This will depend on the amount of each substance is used, but the efficiency of an individual’s liver can also play a part.

Getting help

If you believe that your cocaine or alcohol use has gotten out of hand, it is important to seek help. Substance abuse is a dangerous condition to develop in any case, but becoming dependent upon cocaine or alcohol, in particular, can be especially damaging.

Once an addiction has developed, the cycle of abuse will only worsen as time goes on. As a result of this, it is essential that someone who is struggling immediately attempts to seek help.

What can you do?

When it comes to substance abuse, it is essential that you speak to a GP, support charity, or private clinic about your experiences and discuss what forms of treatment might be most appropriate.

The following steps will often involve the facilitation of an individual’s enrolment on a rehab programme that looks to break their physical dependency on cocaine or alcohol and help them reshape their life away from addiction.

Without this treatment, addiction will only become gradually worse, so it is essential that individuals seek help and get in touch with a medical professional should they need it.





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