Drugs of abuse may give the user a feeling of pleasure, but it is important to remember that they are toxic substances. The vast majority of drug overdose cases involve the use of more than one drug. In 2003 the Drug Abuse Warning Network reported an average of 2.7 drugs in fatal overdose cases. Importantly in these cases, no single drug is usually present at a lethal dose. Rather it is the synergistic effect (think: 1+1=3) of the combining of drugs that is lethal. For example, a combination of heroin and alcohol can be especially dangerous. Heroin and alcohol both suppress breathing, but by different mechanisms.
Deadly drug: Heroin
Heroin is the cause for more deaths by overdose than any other single drug. The majority of these deaths ultimately result from respiratory failure. A toxic dose of heroin increases the inhibitory effect of GABA, which causes breathing to slow and eventually stop.
Deadly drug: Alcohol
Alcohol overdoses occur predominantly in two ways. First, a high intake of alcohol causes unconsciousness. At high levels, it can also cause breathing to slow or cease. Second, the body tries to rid itself of unabsorbed alcohol by emptying the stomach. If a person vomits while they are unconscious, they may inhale the vomit and compromise their breathing or even drown.
Deadly drug combo: Heroin and alcohol
Heroin and alcohol together is especially dangerous, experts say, because alcohol can exaggerate heroin’s effect on the central nervous system.
Drugs that depress that central nervous system slow the heartbeat, or in large enough doses, can stop it from beating entirely. Without oxygen-rich blood pumping to the body, brain cells become depleted and can die within minutes. Heroin, a highly addictive opiate drug, is considered a depressant because of its effects sedating the central nervous system. Alcohol also functions as a depressant. Combining these two depressants forms a deadly drug combination.
Ingesting alcohol and using heroin simultaneously can result in a coma that leaves the patient with permanent brain damage that causes lasting cognitive, behavioral, and physical disability. Combining these two substances can even be fatal. The danger occurs because both substances slow down the functions of the central nervous system, which regulates heart rate and breathing. Once the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain is disrupted severely enough or for a long enough period of time, brain damage will result. At that point, the brain can no longer send necessary messages to control and regulate other major organs, so that if the process is not reversed in time by immediate medical intervention, the results will be catastrophic.
While this deadly drug combo of heroin and alcohol won’t create a third toxic substance like cocaine and alcohol; it can be potentially fatal and is highly dangerous. There have been many people who have overdosed on non-lethal amounts of both substances just due to the fact that they were mixed together. In fact, one of the most recent overdoses of heroin and alcohol combined you probably heard of: Glee star Cory Monteith.
If you or someone you know needs treatment for Alcohol or Heroin Addiction please call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.