Heroin and alcohol continue to take lives. When heroin is concurrently used with alcohol, also a depressant, the combination can lead to overdose, coma, and even death. It takes a deeper look at this relationship between two depressants to understand the severity of it thoroughly.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol and heroin, Vertava Health’s alcohol rehab program and heroin addiction treatment can help. Call us at 844.451.0263 to learn more about our treatment options.
Understanding the Dangers Of Heroin and Alcohol Use
Heroin is derived from morphine but about three times stronger and includes an acetyl molecule, allowing the drug to enter the bloodstream and brain faster. One concern with heroin use is that it depresses the respiratory system, which means that it slows breathing—oftentimes to a dangerous level.
When heroin is concurrently used with alcohol, this curbed rate of breathing becomes more likely. This can be dangerous on so many levels, but knowing what the situation can provoke can enable you to save someone’s life.
Alcohol is known for the sort of energetic feeling it creates (at least at first), but the truth is that ethyl alcohol is actually a sedative that not only slows down motor function and reaction time of the brain. It also affects the heart and breathing rate. Alcohol, like heroin, is absorbed into the bloodstream.
When drinking alcohol on a full stomach, it can take several hours to reach the brain because it’s absorbed through the small intestine and stomach. When a person injects or snorts heroin, it’s in the bloodstream almost instantly and makes its way to the brain just as rapidly—at which point it changes back into morphine.
When heroin and alcohol are used at the same time, the double-depressant combination can cause a chain of events and complications such as:
- Slowed reaction time—which makes driving dangerous
- When the brain is slowed down, the lungs slow down
- Lightheaded due to slow or shallow breathing and lack of oxygen
- Lowers heart rate from less oxygen to the brain
- Depressed brain, lung, and heart rate can put a person in a coma
- Comas can lead to further brain damage, causing problems with memory and other disabilities
Not only is mixing heroin and alcohol dangerous on a physical level, but also on a mental level. Heroin is among the most addictive drugs known to man, and alcohol’s well-known to cause drug dependency and addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol and Heroin Use
It can be difficult to determine if someone is using alcohol and heroin simultaneously because the two substances can have similar symptoms—and the telltale signs of alcohol use can often cancel out the indicators of another drug. Some signs you may look for if you believe someone is using heroin with alcohol are drowsiness, decreased motivation, or frequent scratching as a side-effect of opiates.
Some other signs to look for in heroin use are:
- Having muscle and bone pain
- Complaining about chills
- Frequently throwing up
- Insomnia or inability to sleep
- Feeling nervous
Unlike alcohol, the signs of heroin use may be a little harder to pinpoint. If someone is using heroin, you might not know what’s wrong with them or why they’re acting differently.
Detoxification and Other Treatment Programs
If you’ve established that you or someone you love has a dependency issue with heroin, alcohol, or both, then you’re on the right path. Understanding that there’s a problem with drug use is the first step. The next step is figuring out a solution to the problem and preparing for the road ahead. After a person stops using depressants like heroin and alcohol, the withdrawals can be intense, and medical detoxification may be required. Some of the withdrawal symptoms experienced can include irritability, anxiety, depression, severe drug cravings, headaches, nausea, and seizures.
The reason medical detoxification may be required is that withdrawals from alcohol and opioids can actually be fatal—especially when the two are combined with one another. Detoxification can give a medical professional the adequate time needed to monitor a patient’s vitals and prepare them for behavioral therapy or whatever treatment comes next, but detox isn’t considered a full treatment. Heroin addiction detoxification only fixes physical addiction.
The mental aspect of heroin and alcohol is a common ground for checking into residential treatment. Behavioral therapy can be the answer to other emotional or mental disorders that often co-occur with substance use disorders and addiction. In a rehab center, substance use disorders and addictions are treated with treatment programs such as:
- Medication-assisted therapy
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Contingency management
- Group therapy
- Support groups
- If you or someone close to you has a problem with heroin and alcohol use, know that there is help available.
Find a Treatment That Works For You at Vertava Health
Contact Vertava Health today to speak with an addiction specialist about the dangers of alcohol and heroin. Our team of expert medical professionals can help you find the right treatment program for your needs so that you can begin your recovery journey as soon as possible. Please fill out our online form or call us at 844.451.0263 today. A brighter future is possible.