Alcohol and cocaine are among the most widely abused substances in the United States. Each of these substances come with risks when they are consumed individually – something most of us know. What many people are unaware of is that when combined, the effects of alcohol and cocaine are amplified many times over. Essentially, these drugs are always dangerous, but much more so when used together. 

Effects of Cocaine & Alcohol

Cocaine is considered a stimulant because it produces effects that “stimulate” many functions in the body and results in: 

  • Increased energy
  • Mental acuity
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia

Alcohol on the other hand is considered a depressant because it produces effects that slow down many functions in the body and results in:

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced coordination
  • Impaired judgment

When Cocaine & Alcohol Mix: Cocaethylene

Toxins such as cocaine and alcohol are processed by the liver and produce various by-products. One bi-product created when cocaine and alcohol mix is a metabolite called cocaethylene. The build-up of cocaethylene is why mixing these drugs can be such a lethal activity. Overproduction of cocaethylene has been associate with serious side effects such as heart attacks and impulsive decision making. Other possible side effects of mixing these drugs include:

  • sudden stroke
  • violent behavior
  • paranoia
  • anxiety 
  • depression
  • seizures
  • liver damage
  • increased body temperature
  • intense cravings
  • Increased risk of developing cancer 
  • death

Someone who already has a compromised heart (something they may or may not be aware of), is at a greater risk of serious side effects.

Cocaine and Alcohol: They Party Combination

The combination of cocaine and alcohol is commonly used in various party type scenes. Bars, events, house parties, and college parties are just a few examples of the types of places where you may find out people are using this combo. 

When you think about the conflicting effects that these substances have on the mind and body, it may seem like an odd combination at first. However, when you dig a little deeper, the answer becomes much more clear. Alcohol is a depressant. It “depresses” various physiological functions which may make you feel a bit drowsy, but also lowers your inhibitions and helps people “loosen up”. The lowered inhibitions are why some people choose to drink in social situations. It allows them to be more social without feeling self-conscious or anxious. However, the sedative effect that alcohol can have can cause some troubles when you want to be the life of the party. Enter cocaine. Cocaine is known for producing a boost of energy and alertness. However, it doesn’t last very long. In order to keep the night going, partygoers may socially drink throughout the night, and – depending on the company – they may publicly or privately ingest cocaine several times as well. Unfortunately, this seemingly perfect plan too often leads to the devastating effects listed above. 

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is abusing alcohol and cocaine, the risks are serious. Finding the right treatment options are critical to recovery. Explore our addiction treatment directory or visit to find an AA meeting near you.