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When a person uses alcohol or methamphetamine (meth) separately, the effects can be dangerous. When they use both drugs together, the danger is much more prevalent. Taking meth and alcohol together can lead to severe complications, including organ damage, stroke, severe mental health problems, and even death.
What Is Methamphetamine?
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), methamphetamine is a highly addictive illegal stimulant. It is classified as a Schedule II drug. Meth affects the brain and central nervous system, speeding up its production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine plays an essential part in the reward system of the brain. It also regulates feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested.
Using meth long-term causes brain damage. The person may experience impaired thinking, memory loss, anxiety, paranoia, and insomnia. They may become depressed, hyperactive, or aggressive. Nausea, loss of appetite, and severe weight loss are common.
Additional damaging effects of using methamphetamine include:
- Severe tooth decay
- Feeling like things are crawling on your body, causing scratching and wounds
- Damage to the circulatory and nervous systems
Meth addiction can destroy lives and can be fatal.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It increases the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain. The GABA affects the brain’s neural activity and slows down how it functions. When a person drinks alcohol, the drug can change their behavior, mood, and neuropsychological functions. It may slow reaction time, causing blurred vision and slurred speech. The person may not be able to think rationally. If an individual consumes too much alcohol too quickly, their central nervous system may become depressed to the point where difficulty breathing, respiratory failure, coma, and death may occur.
Using Meth & Alcohol Together – Polysubstance Use
When a person uses more than one drug at a time, it is called polysubstance use. Unfortunately, polysubstance use is not uncommon. The combination of meth and alcohol together is particularly dangerous. According to one study, using both drugs together is more common in binge drinkers than in people who drink alcohol every day. However, some people are addicted to both alcohol and meth and use both regularly.
Each drug affects how the body absorbs the other. As the meth decreases the effects of the alcohol, the person needs to drink more than usual to feel the same result. At this point, their risk of cardiovascular damage greatly increases as their heart rate rises quickly to dangerous highs. The user also feels an intense rush of euphoria and self-confidence caused by the meth. These feelings may make the person feel like they can drive or take other dangerous risks. When the user comes down from their high, they experience an intense crash as the substances leave their system. As they experience withdrawal symptoms, depressive thoughts and suicidal ideations are common.
The Risk of Alcohol Poisoning
When a person consumes alcohol alone, it has a sedating effect. But meth masks the sedating effects of alcohol. When this happens, the individual may drink more than they usually would before stopping, putting them at greater risk of alcohol poisoning, also known as alcohol overdose. Alcohol poisoning is extremely serious and can be fatal. Vomiting, confusion, and pale or blue-tinged skin are signs of alcohol poisoning.
Additional signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Dulled gag reflex
- Irregular breathing (a ten-second or more gap between breaths)
- Slow breathing (eight or fewer breaths per minute)
- Extreme hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Unconsciousness and coma
A person who has passed out and cannot be awakened is at risk of death.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help is available. You are not alone. The disease of addiction can affect anyone. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center, located in Mesa, Arizona, our staff of highly skilled professionals will use a combination of evidence-based addiction treatments, psychiatric care, and holistic therapies to provide you with the care you need to live a sober life. Take the first step on the path to recovery, and call us today.