Heroin and Alcohol: A Deadly Combination
Understanding Heroin and Alcohol
Both heroin and alcohol are substances which can be incredibly dangerous. While small amounts of alcohol can be consumed responsibly, heroin is never safe. Substance abuse is a serious issue and recovery from addiction is possible. Heroin and alcohol can be dangerous when used separately, but consequences are heightened and negative effects can be more prominent when used together. Being informed about the use of heroin and alcohol is important when making informed decisions for yourself and looking for warning signs in those you love.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is derived from morphine, which can be found in poppies.1 While it is typically known for its powder form, heroin can also come in a more liquid form, similar to tar. Heroin is abused through injecting or smoking it. This drug is illegal in the United States and is extremely addictive. Many people begin by smoking or snorting heroin and later begin to inject it. Because of heroin’s addictive properties, it can be incredibly hard to stop once use has started.
Heroin and Alcohol Effects
Heroin and alcohol are very dangerous when mixed. Just like all substances, mixing substances is not smart and can lead to further negative complications. Because of the way that these two substances target the brain, the effects can happen fast and be overwhelming. Understanding how drugs interfere with the brain is important in knowing why they’re so dangerous and should be avoided.
How Heroin Affects the Brain
Mu-opioid receptors in the brain are the target of heroin.2 Heroin seeks out these receptors and affects them. Neurotransmitters are incredibly important in brain function. They are what can signal pain, are related to hormones, and are involved in many of the body’s important processes. When heroin fixes to those receptors, it’s blocking the neurotransmitters. When the neurotransmitters no longer have access to the needed receptors, their effects are lessened or temporarily stopped.
Heroin also increases dopamine levels. When the body gets used to having the increased dopamine levels, it can seek out drugs as a way of replacing this dopamine. This is the cycle of dependence and tolerance. This contributes to the addictive properties of heroin and is one of the reasons it’s challenging to quit the drug.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Body
Consuming alcohol is acceptable in many areas of society and even encouraged in some. While not every situation with alcohol is dangerous, repeat consumption and reliance can have many dangers and should be warned against. Drinking responsibly is important in making sure a reliance is not being developed and various areas of life are not being interfered with. The effects of alcohol can depend on how much is consumed over a specific period.
Alcohol is typically a depressant, but the individual reaction to alcohol can vary. Often, it depends on the situation in which alcohol is being consumed and the many other outside factors which can present. The inhibitory functions of the brain can be impacted by alcohol and individuals may feel the need to do things that they wouldn’t if they were sober.
Heroin and alcohol effects can be both short term and long term. While an individual may think they have control over the situation, the effects of alcohol and heroin cannot be controlled if use is occurring.
The Dangers of Using Heroin and Alcohol Together
The combination of heroin and alcohol consumption can be fatal. Using multiple substances at once significantly increases the risk and should be avoided. Abusing any substances can lead to addiction.
Typically, if both heroin and alcohol are being used at the same time, the individual will drink more alcohol than the amount of heroin consumed. Individuals may think that alcohol is the “safer” of the two options, but fail to take into account alcohol poisoning as the dangerous reality that it is. Heroin can make it more difficult to vomit, which stops the body from getting rid of alcohol if necessary. This is one of the many reasons why these substances should not be used at the same time.
How Long Does Heroin Last?
Heroin is illegal. It can range greatly in strength and the effects that it has. The uncertainty that comes which the drug is one of its most dangerous characteristics. Heroin’s rush may only last for a couple of minutes, with the other effects gone in about five hours.3 However, these times can vary greatly and also depend on the individual, their body and the substance being abused.
Drugs are addictive and heroin is no exception. You might begin with the mindset of being in control but will likely quickly fall into the pattern of abuse. Repeat use often turns into heroin addiction and can have many negative repercussions. Heroin addiction is a serious problem that should be taken seriously.
Heroin addiction can be heightened because of the tolerance which can be found in repeat use. As the body becomes more and more tolerant, you may become more dependent on the substance. This only perpetuated the cycle of heroin addiction and is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to stop once you’ve already started.
Heroin and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Heroin treatment seeks to support the detox process as smoothly as possible. Medication-assisted treatment can help with some of the withdrawal symptoms and helps many throughout the recovery process.4 Alcohol addiction treatment varies, depending on the severity. Some people may prefer the support of a rehabilitation center, while others attend counseling or join support groups.
Alcohol and heroin are dangerous. Used separately they can have negative consequences and those are only multiplied when used together. Alcohol and heroin addiction are serious health problems that should be taken seriously and treated with the appropriate care. If you are struggling with both or either of these substances, help is available. Reach out today.
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