Saturday October 25th 2014

Mixing heroin with alcohol

Are you considering mixing heroin with alcohol?

The risks and dangers of mixing heroin with alcohol may outweigh the benefits. So what happens inside your body when heroin in your system is combined with alcohol – whether you have snorted heroin, smoked or shoot it? What are the side effects, and what can go seriously wrong? We review here. Then, we invite you to ask questions about mixing heroin and alcohol in the comments at the end.

Heroin and alcohol effects

Alcohol has a chemical reaction with heroin in the body. Heroin is an illegal opiate painkiller which causes feelings of euphoria, along with analgesic effects. Alcohol is a legal central nervous system depressant which can intensify the effects of heroin. When combined, heroin and alcohol have an additive effect which causes both drugs to be stronger.This can easily cause accidental overdose or alcohol poisoning. When mixed, people have reported some of these effects from taking heroin and alcohol at the same time:

  • euphoria (a sense of extreme well-being)
  • numbness
  • lightheadedness
  • relaxation

Dangers of mixing heroin and alcohol

Taking alcohol and heroin together can result in serious adverse reactions, due to the additive effects of both central nervous system depressants. Some potentially dangerous effects of mixing heroin with alcohol include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • shallow breathing
  • impaired coordination
  • overdose
  • slowed or irregular heart rate
  • tremors

But alcohol doesn’t just intensify the effects of heroin. It does both ways. Alcohol also becomes more dangerous when mixed with heroin, becoming a stronger sedative. Drinking and using heroin can cause trouble concentrating and difficulty with coordination. This makes it more likely you’ll be involved with an accident or injure yourself. You also experience a greater intoxication from alcohol when mixing it with narcotics, leading to a greater risk of alcohol poisoning.Your alcohol tolerance will always be lower than you would normally expect when mixed with central nervous system depressant drugs.

Heroin and alcohol overdose

You risk an overdose on heroin when you mix it with alcohol. Heroin is extremely dangerous as it is, since it’s a street drug and it’s difficult to know if it’s been contaminated and how strong any given dose might be. Adding alcohol on top of this unpredictable drug only makes matters worse.

Heroin and alcohol deaths

Heroin commonly ends up being mixed with alcohol, despite the dangers. Combining heroin with alcohol can cause your breathing to slow, or even stop completely. The only way to avoid potential overdose or other adverse effects is to avoid mixing heroin and alcohol completely.

Is it safe to drink on heroin?

No, it’s not safe to mix heroin and alcohol – the combination just brings out the worst potential effects of both drugs. Heroin is not normally safe to take as it is, given that it is illegal and completely unregulated. But when you drink and take heroin, you increase risk and danger of side effects.

Mixing heroin alcohol questions

Do you still have questions about mixing heroin with alcohol or other substances? Please leave your heroin questions here. We try our best to answer all questions personally, and promptly. And if we don’t know the answer, we will refer you to someone who can help. Your experiences with mixing heroin and alcohol are also welcome.

Reference Sources: NIAAA pamphlet: Harmful Interactions, Mixing Alcohol with Medicines
NHSTA: Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets: Morphine (And Heroin)
NIDA: Research Reports: Heroin: Abuse and Addiction

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16 Responses to “Mixing heroin with alcohol
Doug Manderbach
9:13 pm July 9th, 2012

Hello!

I found most of the information in this blog post “Mixing heroin with alcohol” to be on point. However, there is a further point that needs to be discussed that was not addressed in this blog. That being the dangers of mixing alcohol with almost all drugs; licit or illicit from a physiological and pharmacological perspective.

Like tobacco there is a tendency to view alcohol as being a relatively benign substance when it fact there is very little about the ingestion of alcohol that is benign. Ethanol (the primary psychoactive ingredient in alcohol), is for practical purposes poison. Physiologically, the body does everything it can to metabolize ethanol as quickly as possible. Almost all liver function is given over to metabolizing ethanol. Hence, when one mixes alcohol with other drugs like heroin, the heroin (or other drugs), effectively become trapped because the body is working almost exclusively to metabolize the ethanol.

The above is the short answer to one of many questions on the dangers of mixing alcohol with almost all drugs. Suffice it to say, this is what is actually meant by the statement that alcohol can and does exacerbate the effects of other drugs (or sometimes diminishes–as in the case of antibiotics) when alcohol is consumed in combination with other drugs. Technically speaking, “effect” has NOTHING to do with euphoria. Rather it has to do with such things as lethal dose (LD) and effective dose (ED) curves, and much more.

Let me conclude by saying that purpose here is not to scare anyone. Besides, to be quite frank, those who are in the midst of suffering with addiction will, in spite of evidence and reason, simply not take the information to heart. This fact is part of the nature of addiction. How do I know this? For decades I suffered with heroin addiction. Thus, I have not only my behaviors, but the behaviors of scores of others to support this view. As I once heard it said, “It is hard to see the picture when you are stuck inside the frame…”.

Since I no longer use drugs, today I have a somewhat clearer view of the picture. In the coming weeks I will graduate with a degree in counseling with an emphasis on substance abuse and chemical addictions. Hence, today I have two views of the picture. The users experience combined with a solid framework of the science and psychology of addictions and substance abuse.

Toronto
4:24 am July 11th, 2012

Well written article. Taking alcohol and heroin together can indeed be fatal.

Mr.ANAB
8:37 pm September 26th, 2012

Who would do such a thing? :(

susan
7:36 am October 21st, 2012

i’ve been an alcoholic for 15 years and now do heroin everyday for the past 2 years. my life involves sleeping. i don’t do anything anymore. i basically can’t even stand. what do i do?

7:24 am October 22nd, 2012

Hi Susan. Thanks for reaching out for help. You can call 1-800-662-HELP for information, support, treatment options and referrals to local rehab centers for a heroin and alcohol problem. The hotline operates 24 hours, seven days a week. But you have to be willing to quit both alcohol and heroin 100%.

Linda Madison
4:06 pm December 7th, 2012

My sweet, loving friend was found dead and it took the coroner and police 9 months to determine the cause of death to be alcohol and heroin caused. I don’t understand. I never knew he was on heroin. Did he die in his sleep, as the coroner suggests, or is that just what they say to spare loved ones from what really happened? Did he suffer? Did he do it on purpose? I can’t get over his death after all this time, and I am not sure I even want to go on living. I want to see him desparately and ask him why. I am an alcoholic myself, but I don’t touch drugs. Can anyone tell me what he went through in those hours before his body was discovered? I need to know. Why couldn’t I see track marks? I need answers. Please.

8:32 pm December 8th, 2012

Hi Linda. It’s possible that your friend was also snorting heroin, and not injecting it. If death occurred during acute intoxication from heroin, pain was probably not an issue. The brain enters a state of intense well-being on heroin, and if your friend was in this state when death occurred, it’s possible that he passed without much suffering. Maybe someone else can weigh in on this, as well?

greiving daughter
5:14 am January 21st, 2013

Hi, i basically have the same story as Linda, except it was my father. i found him and he had some black stuff coming out of his mouth and i could see some stuff on the side of the bed, but not a whole lot. I dont know if he vomited and choked or if it was an overdose from the heroin and alcohol. I just want to know if it was painful for him, ive been searching online but i cant really find anything about the pain. i mean he looked very peaceful like he was sleeping. If anyone know anything about this pleas post back, thanks.

Doug Manderbach
7:08 am January 22nd, 2013

Dear Grieving Daughter,

Let me begin by offering my condolences on the loss of your father. This is yet another example of the dangers of substance use/abuse and the need for awareness.

As for your question, there may be no definitive answer. Form a pharmacological standpoint heroin blocks the pain receptors and slows respiration which are exacerbated by the use of alcohol. Most people just don’t seem to realize that the human body will exert considerable effort to excrete ethanol. Our bodies treat ethanol as a toxic substance. So much so, that when mixed with other drugs the body will attempt to excrete ethanol first. This can result in the lethal build up of drugs like opiates, or as in the case of cocaine for example, can result in the production of lethal levels of other active metabolites.

I would guess that your father did not suffer. Most likely the effects of the drug(s) by that time would have nearly or completely rendered him unconscious.

wendy davies
1:25 am January 28th, 2013

my stepdaughter took heroin and alcohol within 24hrs of one another,really strong larger some hours later she was found slumped in the bathroom dead could the use of both drugs cause her to die several hours later or would she have to have been shooting up at the time,the person who found her is her partner also a user and not very truthful and we are full of questions which he refuses to answer he only admitted the heroin use 36hours later
thanking you and hope you can give us any information
wendy davies

9:27 am January 28th, 2013

Hi Wendy. I am very sorry for your loss. MY condolences to you and your family during this very difficult time.

I think that the best way to find out the answers to your questions is to consult the coroner’s report. It sounds likely that concurrent use of heroin and alcohol is possible.

Doug Manderbach
12:02 pm January 28th, 2013

Hello Wendy,

Allow me to begin by offering my condolences to you and your family. Your story is one I hear all too often and which I don’t think I will ever get used to.

I started using in 1963 and didn’t finally stop until August 2009. There are a couple of reasons why I point this out. The obvious one being that I have heard, seen, and very nearly lost my own life due to drug use more times than I care to remember. Also, I am afraid that you are not going to get many straight or truthful answers from your stepdaughter’s partner. One of the multitude of reasons for this is that for him to be forthright and truthful means that he must look at his behaviors and the effect they have had on others as well as himself. This simply is not possible when a person is caught up in active addiction. Said another way, it is hard to see the picture when you’re stuck inside the frame….

As the folks from Addiction Blog suggest, the corner’s report is a possible avenue for finding some answers. This will depend on how comprehensive their toxicology is. What I mean by this is that sometimes the report will note is the presence and levels of opiates and other drugs found while the cause of death may be listed as respiratory failure, heart failure, or something else. In short, there is a lot of legal requirements for these kinds of reports that don’t always seem to make a lot of sense.

Please Wendy, while it may appear that I am doing more to discourage you than to encourage you, I know that what you really want is to try and make some sense out of a terribly tragic situation and to gain some closure from that understanding. This is a natural and reasonable response.

Wendy, for you, your family, and friends, I wish you well and hope that you may find some peace in this difficult time.

BETTY
9:23 pm August 10th, 2013

My granddaughter came up to go to her brother’s high school graduation and they tried to wake her at 7:30 a.m. to go to graduation at 8:00 a.m. and said she was snoring and they left her and got home around 10:35 and found her dead. She was 20 and had an alcohol problem, but did not do drugs. She had gone to the doctor the day before and got a prescription for Hydromet and was on seizure medicine, Zanax prescribed by her doctor. The hydromet has hydrocodone in it. The death certificate came today and it says toxic effects from Heroin. Things are not adding up to what happened in that house. Pictures of Alcohol being served to underage kids have been deleted from FaceBook and Twitter the night before. My question is if she was snoring at 7:30 and they found her around 10:35 and called 911 at 11:09 and she was pronounced dead at 11:22 at what point would she have had to take the heroin. Her friends and boyfriend said they never knew her to do drugs and neither have we. We requested a copy of the toxicology report but only got the death certificate. Any help would be appreciated.

11:51 am August 12th, 2013

Hello Betty. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Hydrocodone metabolizes into heroin-like metabolites. I’d suggest that you take the toxicology report to a Medical Review Officer, toxicologist, or coroner for an expert opinion about the time of the dosing.

James
4:15 pm September 14th, 2013

If you smoke heroin how long does it stay in your system for also after 3 days can it be detected with a urrain test.

Dee
11:25 pm October 8th, 2014

The love of my life died 7 months ago today. He was twice legally drunk and had heroin in his system. He was fighting his addiction to whiskey and crack and as far as I know never did heroin til that day. He came in from work (he worked with a heroin addict) I could smell the whiskey on his breath in which made me mad. But I did notice he wasn’t acting the normal way when he would get drunk. He usually wanted to fight but this day he wanted to lay down for a nap (which he never wanted to nap especially drunk) So instead of fighting with him I encouraged him to lay down. I was next to him when he fell to sleep. He did ok for a few minute but than he made 2 weird noises and than a little bit later he was not breathing. I began CPR and called 911 while on the phone I noticed this slimy brownish red stuff coming out of his mouth and nose. Needless to say when the EMTs got here they did not save him.

I have read that whiskey and heroin is very dangerous but it don’t kill every one. So my question is did I let my love die by not responding to the weird sounds I heard?

This has been bothering me for 7 months. If anyone is reading this PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you are using heroin especially heroin with alcohol Please stop because losing a love one and not knowing if there was something one can do to save them is the worse.

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