What happens when you mix alcohol and drugs?
Alcohol and other drugs can interact with each other in ways you don’t expect
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
It’s always safer not to take drugs at all. However, if you do decide to take drugs, it’s best not to take different kinds of drugs together or take drugs with alcohol, because you don’t know how the they will interact with each other.
Why is mixing drugs and alcohol dangerous?
Mixing drugs and alcohol is dangerous because they could interact with each other in a way that you don’t expect.
Mixing similar drugs
Mixing similar drugs, such as alcohol and heroin, both of which are depressants, can multiply the effects of the drug on your body.
Mixing different drugs
Mixing different kinds of drugs, such as cocaine which is a stimulant with alcohol which is a depressant, can have competing effects on your body, which puts pressure on your heart.
All of this can combine to increase risk of overdose and death.
How different drugs can interact with alcohol
Different drugs can interact with alcohol in different ways.
Alcohol and cannabis
Using alcohol and cannabis together can have really unpredictable effects. Generally, drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis together can make the effects of the cannabis much stronger. This makes many people experience nausea and vomiting. It can also lead to panic, paranoia and anxiety.
Alcohol and cocaine
When taken together, alcohol and cocaine produce a substance in your liver called Cocaethylene. This is highly toxic, and increases the risk of heart failure. It also makes you more likely to become aggressive.
Alcohol and ecstasy
Drinking alcohol while you’re on ecstasy can make your come down the next day much worse. It also greatly increases your risk of dangerous dehydration, nausea and vomiting.
Alcohol and amphetamines (speed)
The combination of speed and alcohol can increase your body temperature and dehydrate you. It also puts added pressure on your heart, which could result in heart failure. You also may become anxious, aggressive or paranoid.
Alcohol and heroin
This is an especially dangerous combination. Even having a small amount of alcohol in your system greatly increases your chance of overdosing if you take heroin.
Alcohol and prescription medication
There are certain prescription medications that you shouldn’t drink alcohol with, as it can have a range of negative effects. Talk to your doctor and read the label carefully to find out whether it’s okay to drink alcohol or not.
Mixing drugs with other drugs
It’s also important to be aware that mixing different drugs together can be dangerous. Here are some examples:
Ecstasy and cannabis
Many people smoke weed when they are on ecstasy to help them calm down, but often, it can have the opposite effect, making you even more anxious or paranoid.
Heroin and cocaine
Again, it is particularly dangerous to mix heroin and cocaine. This is sometimes known as a ‘speedball’. The pressure that these two drugs put on your body can very easily lead to overdose.
Remember, you can never really know what you’re getting with illegal drugs, so you can never predict the effects for sure.
Supports and Services
- Drugs.ie: Online information and support for drug and alcohol use. Includes a national directory of drug and alcohol services
- HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline: Freephone 1800 459 459.
- The Club Drug Clinic offers advice, support and detoxification for GHB (Liquid Ecstasy, G) and other chemsex and club drugs is an integrated person centred specialist addiction service. Phone: 01 6488 600
- AskAboutAlcohol.ie has information and advice on problem drinking and support services available