Mixing Crack with Alcohol

Mixing crack with alcohol creates cocaethylene. While alcohol can intensify the length and the high you get from crack, it can also make the body shut down, inducing an unconscious state. More here on dangers and risks of this deadly drug combination.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Crack is a psychoactive stimulant. Alcohol is a depressant. Taking them together creates cocaethylene, a chemical that affects the brain for longer and is more toxic than either drug alone. Cocaethylene heightens and intensifies the euphoric effect of cocaine, but also amplifies the depressive effect of alcohol. Read more on the hazards of mixing crack with alcohol here.


A Scare Tactic?

Thinking about drinking and taking crack together?

We hope that you’ll reconsider. The hazards of mixing the illegal drug crack cocaine with alcohol are numerous. Lots of things can go wrong. This is not a scare tactic. In fact, the consequences can be so severe that drinking on crack can result in overdose and even death.

Crack alone is a highly addictive stimulant. As the the freebase form of cocaine, it causes euphoria and alertness. On the opposite side of the spectrum, alcohol is a depressant that triggers calming effects on the central nervous system. People drink while taking crack to try to consume more alcohol without feeling intoxicated. But mixing these two opposites can cause serious harm to your health. It can create a chemical reaction that is very powerful and dangerous.

Effects on the Brain

Many people who mix crack with alcohol combine cocaine and booze thinking that they will ease the negative effects that come along with crack such as such as tremors or vertigo. Some people drink to counteract the stimulating effects of cocaine. However, because alcohol can be a central nervous system stimulant, drinking on crack can actually intensify the length and the high you get from crack. In fact, this mixture can induce euphoria (a state of intense happiness and self-confidence).

How does cocaine affect the brain? It stimulates brain function and releases large amounts of dopamine into neural synapses. Cocaine use has been long been associated with damage to multiple organ systems including cardiac arrhythmia, chest pains, strokes, toxic seizures, hypertension crises, and hyperthermia. More benign effects include talkativeness, mentally alertness, and more acute senses of sight, sound, and touch.

On the flip side, however, drinking on crack can enhance the absorption and metabolism of alcohol, creating intoxication or alcohol poisoning. Increased intoxication decreases inhibition. Coordination also decreases while high self-confidence creates a dangerous environment for potential accidents. And the mixture also has the potential to cancel the effects of one other out. You cannot predict the many possible outcomes. But one thing is for sure: it’s dangerous.

Crack is cocaine process using baking soda or ammonia that is cooked to be made into a more potent, smokable form.  More on crack from The Center for Substance Abuse Research .


Many crack users also use alcohol. In fact, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction found that more than half of cocaine addicts enrolled into rehab programs were also alcohol abusers.

Associated with nightlife and parting, these two substances are usually mixed at social events. Some of the most common effects that people reported include:

  • Euphoria
  • Impulsiveness
  • Self-confident
  • Sociability

Check out this website to watch many young people’s experiences with crack cocaine and alcohol.

Side Effects

On one hand, crack, being a stimulant, causes stimulant effects. Some of its adverse effects include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Constricted blood vessels, causing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Heart palpitations and high blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

On the other hand, alcohol as a depressant has effects that are totally opposite of the stimulants. Some of the side effects include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Impaired judgment
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Memory loss, even blackouts
  • Slow speech
  • Sleepiness
  • Slowed heart and breathing rate
  • Reduced blood pressure

Mixed together, this combo may bring out the worst in you, making you more impulsive with poor judgment and acting out risky behaviors. Other adverse effects of crack/alcohol mixture include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Liver toxicity
  • Loss of coordination and motor function

Moreover, a group of researchers from Brown University found out mixing crack cocaine with alcohol increases the risk of suicide.


Used alone, both substances can cause damage to your health. Used together, crack and alcohol can lead to serious consequences such as overdose, and even death.

One of the big dangers of mixing the two is that, once in the body, cocaine and alcohol combine to create a third chemical: cocaethylene. Cocaethylene is produced in the liver and is the biggest reason why the effects of crack intensifies and increases the possibility of sudden death. Additionally, cocaethylene leaves the heart vulnerable to increased breathing and heart rates.

“When cocaine is used with alcohol, the liver produces cocaethylene, a powerful compound that increases the risk of sudden death beyond the risk of using cocaine alone.”

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

When alcohol doesn’t increase the stimulant effects of crack, it will instead work as a sedative. Crack and alcohol cause the central nervous system to go back and forth between frenetic activity and sedation and can cause the body to suddenly shut down. Because alcohol is a sedative, you are at risk of being unable to wake from sleeping if you mix crack and alcohol, with added risks of inducing an unconscious state.

Crack also enhances the absorption and metabolism of alcohol. This is why it takes less alcohol in the body to poison you while on crack and you will feel drunk quicker than if you were only drinking rather than mixing alcohol with crack.

A case report made by Journal of Medical Toxicology stated several risks of cocaethylene production in the body:

  • cerebral infarction,
  • intracranial hemorrhage
  • myocardial infarction
  • cardiomyopathy
  • cardiac arrhythmias.


As with other drugs, most crack overdoses involve the use of alcohol. According to the 2011 DAWN Report on National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits showed that in 2011, there were exact 173,799 ED visits that involved combination of crack/cocaine with alcohol. What are the main reasons for this?

  1. Firstly, the new substance that crack and alcohol produces in the body (cocaethylene) adds to the already dangerous nature of overdosing.
  2. Crack is illegal and often included additive chemicals you aren’t even aware of that could add to an unexpected lethal dose. Not knowing what you are dealing with intensifies the probability of problems.
  3. And finally, drinking when you’re high on cocaine can lead to a body system  shut down.

In sum, crack and alcohol should not be used together.


The 2015 CDC Report: Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2010–2014 shows that 1,210 people died from overdose that involved a combination of alcohol and cocaine.

Death is possible and increasingly likely when mixing crack and alcohol. Cocaethylene is a deadly substance and makes taking the two substances at the same time extremely dangerous. Your heart becomes vulnerable under the stress of all the chemicals in your body and your heart and breathing could stop. Combine the sedative of alcohol to crack and you may never wake up.

Safety Guidelines

It is never safe to drink alcohol and take crack together. When combined, the two bring out the worst effects of each drug and intensify the stimulant and depressant effects past their potential as separate substances. The risk of overdose and death is simply too high. So if you want to avoid these risks altogether, it is advisable that you just don’t drink on crack.

Signs You Need Help

Anyone who cannot quit crack or quit drinking on their own needs professional help. How do you now that you have a problem with addiction? And what can be done about it?

The first think you need to know is to admit that you have a problem. If you are not sure, check out the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This manual created by the professional association of psychiatrists lists 11 criteria for the diagnosis of an addictive behavior. The clinical features of a drug or alcohol problem include when you…

  1. Take the drug in larger amounts or longer than intended.
  2. Want to cut down or stop using drug but fail to succeed.
  3. Spend a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the use.
  4. Experience cravings and an uncontrollable need to use the drug.
  5. Fail to perform normally at work, home, or at school due to drug use.
  6. Continue to use, even when it causes problems in relationships with family, friends, and partners.
  7. Give up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of use.
  8. Use the drug again and again, despite being aware of harmful risks and side effects.
  9. Continue to use despite the risk of developing health problems or worsen physical or physiological condition.
  10. Need more drug to get the desired effect (tolerance).
  11. Experience withdrawal symptoms which can be relieved by taking higher dose (dependence).

If you meet more than 3 criteria, you should ask a help from an addiction specialist to diagnose the severity of your addiction.

Your Questions Are Welcomed!

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

Reference Sources: NIDA: Drug Abuse Cocaine
National Library of Medicine: Effects of Cocaine and Alcohol
National Institute of Drug Abuse: Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
CESAR: Crack
NCBI: Neurotoxic and cardiotoxic effects of cocaine and ethanol
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healt...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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