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Why is mixing drugs dangerous?

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FRANK Advice
27th Jan 2014

By mixing drugs you increase the chances of having a bad time for a range of reasons:

  • Taking similar types of drugs can increase their negative effects and be dangerous. For example, taking two depressants like heroin and alcohol.
  • A drug may affect you in a particular way that makes other drug(s) you take more dangerous than usual.
  • One drug may mean you have to take higher levels of another type of drug to feel the effects and this can lead to overdose.
  • The drugs might interact in completely unexpected ways.

Mixing depressants

Depressants are substances which make you feel relaxed but can slow down your heart rate and breathing which can be fatal. Overdose is much more likely when these drugs are taking together as they are causing the same effect on your body. Heroin, tranquilisers and alcohol are all depressant drugs.

Mixing stimulants

Sometimes the effects of a stimulant don’t kick in straight away so you may take something else too quickly. This can give an unpleasant overdose effect but could also put a serious strain on the heart. Frightening and fatal overdoses have been reported with excess stimulant use. Cocaine and speed are all stimulants.

Mixing stimulants and alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant which can relax you and stimulants are drugs which make you feel more energetic. As they have the opposite effect you may find you need to take more to feel an effect. As stimulants and alcohol put pressure on the heart, this can increase the risk of heart failure.

Mixing cocaine and alcohol

This combination can produce a poisonous substance in the body called cocaethylene that may affect your heart and stays in your system longer than cocaine alone. Mixing cocaine, a stimulant, with a depressant like alcohol can hide some of the other effects of the cocaine. This makes it easier to overdose as you take more to achieve the same high.

Mixing ecstasy and cannabis

Sometimes people take cannabis to take the edge off an ecstasy trip. But instead of calming you down, it could make you more anxious and paranoid.

Mixing heroin and cocaine use

When heroin and cocaine are taken together at the same time, this is known as a ‘speedball’, and this can be a deadly combination. Both heroin and cocaine put pressure on the body and using them together, especially when injected, can easily become fatal.


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