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Meth and Alcohol – the Effects and Dangers

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Mixing meth and alcohol is not recommended, as it can be very dangerous. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning that it slows down crucial functions in the body, like breathing and heart rate. Meth, on the other hand, is a stimulant that speeds up these processes and leads to increased blood pressure and heart rate.Woman with her head in hands, coping the with effects of mixing meth and alcohol

Mixing alcohol and crystal meth can cause unpredictable complications that are more dangerous than the effects of either drug alone. In the most severe of cases, this could include hospitalizations, organ damage, major mental health problems, stroke, and fatal overdose.

Being addicted to more than one substance or polydrug addiction can complicate a person’s treatment needs. Fortunately, with the right combination of treatments, a life free from meth and alcohol use is possible.  

Vertava Health has both a meth rehab center and an alcohol rehab program that can address these substance misuse issues. Contact us at 844.470.0410 to learn more.

The Effects of Mixing Meth and Alcohol

Alcohol can interfere with the metabolism of meth. This can heighten the stimulating effects that the drug has on the brain and heart, resulting in adverse changes to a person’s mood, performance, and physiological functions. Even though alcohol is a depressant, when consumed with meth, it can make the heart rate faster than when meth is used by itself. 

Using alcohol frequently, or more than 16 days a month has also been shown to increase the development of psychotic symptoms in people who use meth chronically. 

Taking these drugs together has also been shown to alter levels of important neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are responsible for sending messages in the brain that help to regulate thought and mood, among other critical functions. 

Side Effects of Meth

The side effects of meth can range from minor discomfort to serious and long-lasting health problems, both for the body and mind, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Appetite suppression
  • Compromised immune system
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations 
  • High blood pressure
  • Jaw clenching
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Paranoia 
  • Seizures
  • Skin sores and infections
  • Sleeplessness
  • Strokes

Side Effects Of Alcohol

People may have only mild impairment when drinking a few drinks. However, if a person continues to drink, they could become intoxicated. People who drink frequently and for long periods can experience significant health problems due to alcohol use. 

Side effects of alcohol use may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Memory loss
  • Poor coordination
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Slurred speech

Serious medical problems caused by drinking include brain damage, coma, coronary disease, enlarged heart, fatal respiratory arrest, heart damage, liver damage, and osteoporosis.

Overdose from Mixing Meth and Alcohol

Meth’s stimulating properties hit quickly and last longer than other drugs in this class. This is one reason the drug is so dangerous when used with alcohol. This long effect can cover up alcohol intoxication, leading a person to believe they are soberer than they are. 

Because of this, a person may continue to drink even after their body can no longer keep up with the alcohol in its system. As the alcohol reaches toxic levels, a person could overdose, otherwise known as alcohol poisoning.

The way alcohol changes the metabolism of meth could increase the risk of an overdose from meth. 

Research has found that drinking alcohol can lead to a higher blood concentration of meth and increase the toxicity of meth in the body. When a drug reaches toxic levels, the body can overdose. 

These scientific findings also suggested that alcohol increases the absorption of meth and its metabolite, amphetamine; however, it does not make the body eliminate the drug faster. The faster a drug is absorbed, the greater the likelihood of dependence and overdose.

People who use these drugs could overdose on one or both substances. Signs of overdose could include a combination of symptoms caused by each drug or new symptoms.

Signs and side effects of a meth overdose:

  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Trouble breathing

Signs and side effects of alcohol overdose (alcohol poisoning):

  • Confusion
  • Slowed breathing 
  • Stomach and intestinal bleeding
  • Stomach pain
  • Unsteadiness 
  • Vomiting 

When used separately, an overdose of each drug can cause coma. Used together, this risk could be higher. 

Find Treatment for Meth and Alcohol Addiction  at Vertava Health

The most comprehensive alcohol treatment programs use an assessment or evaluation to determine how addiction has impacted a person and what treatments will work best for them. This can be especially crucial for a person addicted to more than one substance.  

Polydrug addiction often requires more intensive treatment. For this reason, a residential program may be recommended. Contact Vertava Health now at 844.470.0410 for info on treatment options.