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The Dangers Of Mixing Cocaine With Benzodiazepines

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Powerful stimulants like cocaine can end with a serious crash, then sometimes when a person uses the drug they may not be able to sleep or wind-down afterward. Some people might use a central nervous system depressant like benzodiazepines to help them taper off cocaine, but this mixture may lead to the development of further use and even polysubstance dependence.

Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the coca bush. Typically cocaine comes in a fine, white powder which can be snorted, injected, or further processed into crack cocaine. Some people use cocaine in binges while increasing doses overtime to maintain the same high they experienced before.

Benzodiazepines are psychoactive medications, also referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers. They can be used to treat anxiety disorders, epilepsy, and insomnia. Generally, benzodiazepines (or benzos) have a low level of use. However, “there is the potential for dependence on and use of benzodiazepines particularly by individuals with a history of multi-substance use,” as reported by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Cocaine is a powerful drug, but not everyone who tries cocaine will become addicted, or even like it for that matter. Yet this drug can still have serious consequences to a person’s health and overall well-being, especially when combined with benzodiazepines

Why Do People Mix Cocaine And Benzodiazepines?

People who use cocaine may become dependent on it or develop a cocaine use disorder—partly because of the intense euphoria and numbing feeling it creates. Someone who suffers from a cocaine use disorder might use benzodiazepines to lower the risk of crashing after cocaine wears off. This combination of stimulants and depressants has the potential to be dangerous.

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Dangers Of Mixing Stimulants With Depressants

Mixing more than one drug, or taking a drug while under the influence of another is known as polysubstance (polydrug) use, and may have a greater effect than what meets the eye. When a person uses a depressant with a stimulant they might better manage their withdrawal symptoms, but what can happen over time is they rarely use one drug without the other, and now they’ve become dependent on two substances.

Mixing stimulants, like cocaine, with depressants, like benzodiazepines, can have often unpredictable consequences. The combination of cocaine and benzodiazepines in the body can badly alter a person’s natural dopamine levels and make it hard for them to feel happy on their own.

Some of the risks of mixing stimulants and depressants are:

  • Increase in side effects of both substances
  • Aggravating or worsening symptoms of co-occurring mental health or substance use disorders
  • Increased risk of development of addiction and/or dependence for either substance
  • Greatly increased risk of fatal overdose

Effects Of Cocaine On The Body

Cocaine can have adverse effects on the body, but mostly on the nasal passage, lungs, kidneys, liver, heart, and brain. Often the amount of cocaine or the regularity of use can alter side effects, euphoria experienced, and even withdrawal symptoms.

Potent stimulants like cocaine can give a person immense euphoria and a feeling of well-being, but once they stop abusing the drug, they can experience side effects and withdrawal. The side effects of cocaine are the same concerns that benzodiazepines work against.

Some of the short-term effects of cocaine can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Increased body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Pupil dilation

Effects Of Benzodiazepines On The Body

Benzodiazepines are used medically for several purposes, as a sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety agent, or muscle relaxant. Benzodiazepines work by emitting tranquilizing chemicals into the brain, producing feelings of calm, relaxation, and euphoria. These drugs are some of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States, according to Medical News Today.

There are a lot of different brands of benzodiazepines. According to the DEA, some of the most commonly-prescribed benzodiazepines are alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), and diazepam (Valium).

Use of benzos can be dangerous, as the drugs work by slowing brain activity, thereby slowing certain functions in the body.

Side effects of benzodiazepine use may include:

  • Body tremors
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Grogginess
  • Headache
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vision troubles

Mixing cocaine and benzodiazepines can be dangerous because the drugs have wildly opposing effects on the body. One increases certain functions to stimulate the body and brain (cocaine), while the other decreases certain functions to produce calmness and relaxation (benzodiazepines). Combining the two can produce heightened effects of each substance until your body cannot process either drug, greatly increasing your risk of fatal overdose.

Treatment For Polysubstance Use Disorder

Substance and polysubstance use disorders can be hard to beat, but the right treatment program can make all the difference. The best programs for substance use, addiction, and dependence are found at inpatient drug rehab centers, where you will find caring, supportive staff and evidence-based modalities.

Some of the most effective methods of recovery for substance use disorders are detoxification, dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, peer support groups, and contingency-management. Vertava Health may be able to guide you into recovery and help you return to normal life—happy and free from addiction.