Risks of Mixing Opiates and Alcohol
Opiates and alcohol. It may seem obvious mixing the two is a recipe for severe, irreversible consequences. Independently, each has the ability to take someone’s life slowly through deteriorating one’s body over time. Alternately, both substances can end someone’s life instantly by overdosing on opioids or unsafe behaviors while drinking.
Understanding the risks of each separately is important, helping us identify those who may be in need of drug rehabilitation in Scottsdale AZ. Knowing the risks of taking them together may just save your life, or that of someone you know.
Two Terrible Dangers
Before we talk about the danger of mixing opiates and alcohol, let us consider both substances separately.
Dangers of Alcohol
Individuals suffering from alcohol abuse may not see they have a problem for a long time. Unfortunately, it is when drinking begins to impact someone’s daily life before it is realized there may be an issue. When this occurs, the drinker may begin binging, suffer from memory loss, exhibit inappropriate behavior, develop health problems, and other non-characteristic behaviors.
Separately, consuming alcohol in excessive amounts can have the following side effects:
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of consciousness
Over time, continued increased consumption begins to damage vital organs in the body, such as the liver. Long-term use of alcohol wears on the body making alcoholism a slow killer. It is possible to cure the disease of alcoholism, especially if it is noticed at an early stage and professional treatment is received.
Dangers of Opiates
Like most drugs, opiates affect the body’s system much faster than alcohol. In a much shorter period, and if not carefully monitored, opiate users can become addicted. The addiction can be so strong; it can consume someone’s entire life. Recovery from opiate addiction is possible, but requires treatment, both for the physical addiction to opiates and mental counseling to prevent relapse. While many medical facilities only treat the physical dependency of opiate use, drug rehabs in Scottsdale AZ treat the entire individual.
Although the side effects of opiates differ from alcohol, their impacts are just as severe including:
- Respiratory failure
- Decreased heart rate
- Extreme drowsiness
- Low body temperature
- Decreased blood pressure
Opiates, like alcohol, can cause death after years of use. However, opiates can kill instantly if an individual overdoses. Consuming large quantities of alcohol is possible; however, injecting enough alcohol to cause death is extremely difficult. Opiates, on the other, are taken in very easy to consume pills or in other forms such as smoking or injection. Reaching lethal limits can occur quickly.
Double the Danger - Mixing Alcohol & Opiates
Alcohol mixed with opiates, including prescription medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine, is extremely dangerous. The threat of death is always present if the two are mixed. When combined, individuals may experience a myriad of side effects including:
- Cardiac arrest
- High heart rate
- Respiratory arrest
- Irregular heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Blood pressure spikes
- Cardiovascular fluctuations
Combining opiate use and alcohol often enhances the effect of one or the other. Those addicted to opiates are at a high risk of increased side effects and possible death. More frightening is how individuals who use opiates as prescribed, often are not aware of the compromising position they put themselves in should they also consume alcohol with it.
Mixing is Deadly Dangerous
The combination of alcohol and opiate use can be lethal. The external effects can increase the level of intoxication. This increase can lead to decisions an individual may have not made normally, such as driving or participating in hazardous activities. A single drink, while usually not concerning by itself, can lead to severe impairment when consumed while using opiates.
Inside the body, the layered effects of each substance combine to form a deadly combination. Opiates, by their very nature, are designed to reduce pain and stress levels within the body. When alcohol is consumed, its effects as a depressant are compounded. The breathing rate lowers along with circulation. The reduction of both reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. Eventually, the brain is starved of the life-giving oxygen, dizziness sets in then unconsciousness. And, if not treated immediately, death can soon follow.
Continued after infographic:
Treating Alcohol and Opiate Abuse
Individuals who abuse two or more substances have more challenges to overcome than those who rely on a single substance. Not only is it important to treat both the body physically, it is imperative treatment also includes mental rehabilitation involving counseling, goal setting, and support groups. Drug rehabs in Scottsdale AZ focuses on treating the individual as a whole, instead of just focusing on detoxifying the body.
For individuals using two substances, treatment is compounded. Detoxification requires professional assistance to ensure the body can withstand the withdrawal symptoms associated with both opiates and alcohol. Sufferers and their families need to carefully evaluate rehabilitation centers who can address two or more substance addictions, along with the ability to provide short and long-term treatment solutions.
Seeking Alcohol & Opiate Rehabs in Scottsdale AZ
It is never too early to consider treatment if someone is using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. If you or someone you love may be suffering from alcohol abuse, opioid addiction, or other substance abuse problem, please know there are professionals at Springboard Recovery ready and willing to help.