Mixing Amphetamines & Alcohol: Effects & Dangers
It is not uncommon for people to engage in polysubstance misuse, which refers to the to misuse of more than one addictive substance at a time.1 In fact, approximately 50% of all drug overdose deaths that occurred in the United States in 2019 involved multiple drugs.1 Polysubstance use is not always intentional, however, as some individuals may be unaware that their drug of choice has been cut with another substance.1 Regardless of intent, misusing a combination of various drugs or misusing alcohol with one or more drugs can be extremely dangerous.
This article will discuss polysubstance use as it relates to alcohol and amphetamines, and how to seek treatment for amphetamine and alcohol misuse.
What are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that work by increasing levels of the chemicals dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain.2 These chemicals influence behavioral patterns as well as movement and mood, making them imperative for healthy overall functioning.3 Amphetamines speed up the central nervous system and as a result, act like adrenaline, a natural stress hormone, on the body. When an individual takes amphetamines, they may experience an increase in energy, alertness, confidence, talkativeness, nervousness, and aggression.
Prescription amphetamines like Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine can be helpful in treating attention-defecit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. FDA-approved prescription amphetamines such as these can only be prescribed by a medical professional and cannot be refilled without authorization.4
Effects of Amphetamines
When taken as prescribed, prescription amphetamines such as Adderall and Ritalin can cause some side effects, including but not limited to, stomachache, decreased appetite, nervousness, and problems sleeping.5
However, when prescription amphetamines are being misused, the effects that a person may experience can be more severe and may include:6
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased heart rate.
- Increased respiratory rate.
At high doses, side effects of prescription amphetamines can also include dangerously high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and risk of seizures.6
Effects of Mixing Alcohol & Amphetamines
Alcohol, however, is a central nervous system depressant, which slows down the processes in the body.1 When an individual consumes alcohol, they may experience slowed reaction times, decreased inhibitions, euphoria, poor balance, slurred speech, and trouble staying asleep. When alcohol and amphetamines are combined, results can be unpredictable and potentially even mask the effects of each other (since alcohol and amphetamines have opposite effects on the central nervous system and the body).1 As a result, a person may continue to consume more prescription amphetamines and/or alcohol to achieve the desired results, which can be dangerous and potentially deadly.1
Some of the risks a person can experience when misusing more than one substance at a time (such as alcohol and prescription amphetamines) can include, but are not limited to, the following:7
- Hyperthermia (increased body temperature).
- Respiratory distress.
- Organ failure, including kidney, heart, and/or liver failure.
Other Possible Dangers of Mixing Alcohol & Amphetamines
In addition to the more general risks of polysubstance use involving alcohol and prescription amphetamines, misusing these two substances at the same time can lead to a number of potential dangers that compromise the wellbeing of the individual and those around them.
For example, studies show that being under the influence of prescription amphetamines and alcohol can increase one’s likelihood to engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as driving while under the influence.8 Combining substances like these is also linked to higher rates of suicide attempts, arrests, and incarceration.7 Other potential dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription amphetamines can include increased risk of:7
- Brain damage.
- Liver damage.
- Cardiovascular complications.
- Psychiatric illnesses and comorbidities.
Amphetamine & Alcohol Overdose
The most costly risk posed by mixing alcohol and amphetamines is the potential risk of overdose, as severe effects can occur as a result of this type of polysubstance misuse. These effects are especially dangerous as one substance may mask the side effects of the other and as a result, the individual consumes more of the substance to feel the desired effects.7
It is also important to remember that illicitly purchased drugs (including prescription amphetamines) can be laced with other substances, such as fentanyl.10 In 2022 alone, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized more than 50 million fake pills laced with fentanyl.10 Therefore, the risk of experiencing an overdose when misusing amphetamines alongside alcohol can be much greater than a person is expecting, as these types of pills often closely resemble prescription pills from a pharmacy, making it impossible to decipher the difference.10
If you believe that a loved one is experiencing an overdose, it is absolutely necessary that you take action immediately to prevent possible death.1 Call 911 right away and stay with the person until an emergency medical team arrives.1
Treating Alcohol & Amphetamine Misuse at Oxford
If you or a loved one is struggling with polysubstance use involving both amphetamines and alcohol, help is available today. You do not have to bear the burden of overcoming polysubstance use alone.
Oxford Treatment Center is an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi, offering multiple levels of addiction treatment. Because we have multiple levels of care at our facility, we can tailor your treatment to meet your unique needs, as well as provide continuous care throughout your recovery journey.
For more information about Oxford Treatment Center, contact our treatment admissions navigator team today for a free, private phone consultation. Our team can help you review rehab payment options, understand your rehab insurance coverage, and answer any questions you have about our facility and treatment offerings. You have taken the first step to recovery by seeking out more information about treatment. We are here for you when you are ready to continue on this path together.
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