Heroin is one of the deadliest street drugs available today. But when mixed with alcohol — a substance whose legal status causes many to dismiss it as safe — heroin becomes even more lethal. Abusing these drugs together puts users at great risk of injury and even death because of the compounding, depressing effects on the body’s central nervous system.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is a drug derived from opium poppy plant seed pods, making it part of a class of highly addictive substances called opiates. When ingested, heroin produces a dream-like euphoria that elicits a rush of happiness and elation. While this drug is most commonly found in a white or brown powdered form, it is also sold as a solid and sticky black substance. Even in its purest variations, heroin is extremely dangerous and addictive. Most heroin sold in the United States and around the world is cut with other drugs and chemicals. This factor leaves users at an even higher risk of negative health risks, as there is no way to know what is being consumed.
What Are the Side Effects of Combining Heroin and Alcohol?
On its own, heroin use brings feelings of euphoria. When alcohol is added to the mix, it has an addictive effect on the body, increasing the impact of both substances. This mix can have deadly ramifications. Side effects of combined heroin and alcohol use include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Impaired coordination
- Shallow breathing
- Slowed heart rate
Dangers of Mixing Heroin and Alcohol
The deadly effects of heroin increase dramatically when combined with alcohol. Because the creation of heroin is completely unregulated, it’s impossible to know what each batch is cut with or how strong it is. The body absorbs alcohol faster when heroin is present, making alcohol poisoning a deadly threat even after consuming only a small amount of liquor, beer or wine.
But the harmful effects that these drugs have on the body don’t stop there. Both heroin and alcohol act as central nervous depressants. When used together, their sedative properties only increase. This effect can slow or even stop your breathing. Once you’re in this state, simple tasks like getting up to call 911 are impossible. Aside from causing harm to yourself, you may decide to drive or engage in other questionable behaviors that put your relationships and the lives of others at risk.
Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.
Treatment for Heroin and Alcohol Addiction
Mixing heroin and alcohol doesn’t just hurt you, it also hurts the people you love and puts them at risk. Quitting these addictive substances on your own can be difficult, especially because detoxing from heroin and alcohol elicits intense withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, paranoia and rapid heartbeat.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.