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By now most everyone knows how harmful opiates and alcohol can be when used in excess. In terms of addiction potential, opiates rank second only to alcohol as far as rates of addiction go.
Whether a person uses opiates like Vicodin or Percocet as a pain treatment or for recreational purposes, opiate use comes with certain risks; risks that quickly compound when mixing opiates and alcohol. Not only are there very real dangers involved, but the need for treatment help only grows more imminent the longer a person engages in this practice.
Characteristics of the Opiate-Alcohol Mix
Most all of the dangers that come with mixing opiates and alcohol stem from how both these substances work to slow down brain and central nervous system functioning. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, these effects alter the brain’s natural chemistry and set a cycle of dependency in motion as the brain loses its ability to function normally in the absence of these substances.
Over time, the combined effects of the opiate-alcohol mix diminishes a person physical and psychological well-being.
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Dangers of Mixing Opiates and Alcohol
Loss of Control Over Use
Opiates and alcohol interact with different areas of the brain, with both substances causing damage to cells that produce essential neurotransmitter chemicals. Damage caused to these cells makes them less sensitive to the effects of opiates and alcohol, driving a person to increase his or her intake amounts.
This cycle of cell damage and increasing substance use continues for as long as a person keeps mixing opiates and alcohol.
With ongoing opiate and alcohol use, changes to the brain’s neurotransmitter pathways disrupts core brain functions, such as thinking, emotions and impulse control. Before long, these effects create a state of psychological dependence where a person’s base psychological makeup has reconfigured to the point where substance abuse takes top priority in his or her daily life.
Since opiates and alcohol both work to depress central nervous system functions, users face increasing risk of toxicity and overdose when using these substances in excess, according to the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services. Considering how the brain requires larger and larger amounts of these substances over time, it doesn’t take long at all before a person is ingesting excess amounts on a regular basis.
Like any other form of substance abuse, the dangers of mixing opiates and alcohol increase over time as the brain and body succumb to their damaging effects. As opiate addiction can develop within a fairly short period of time once abuse practices takes hold, this time-line shortens considerably when adding alcohol to the mix.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be seeing some of the dangers associated with mixing opiates and alcohol take shape in your daily life and are considering getting needed treatment help, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-774-6145 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.