Cocaine and Alcohol

Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol The combination of cocaine and alcohol is popular among drug users, perhaps because of more intense feelings of ‘high’ beyond that perceived with either drug alone, less intense feelings of alcohol-induced inebriation, and tempering of discomfort when coming down from a cocaine ‘high’. Cocaine addiction consistently antagonizes the learning deficits, psychomotor performance […]

Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol

The combination of cocaine and alcohol is popular among drug users, perhaps because of more intense feelings of ‘high’ beyond that perceived with either drug alone, less intense feelings of alcohol-induced inebriation, and tempering of discomfort when coming down from a cocaine ‘high’. Cocaine addiction consistently antagonizes the learning deficits, psychomotor performance deficits, and driving deficits induced by alcohol.

The combination of alcohol and cocaine tends to have greater-than-additive effects on heart rate, concomitant with up to 30% increased blood cocaine levels. More importantly, retrospective data suggest that the combination can potentiate the tendency towards violent thoughts and threats, which may lead to an increase in violent behaviors. [1]

Effects of Cocaine and Alcohol Abuse 

Continued use can lead to the following side effects:

  • Anxiety:  People who constantly use cocaine and alcohol will often remain anxious most of the time.
  • Nose Bleeding:  Users who snort cocaine may experience nose bleeds as their nasal cavities have damages from restricted blood flow.
  • Extreme Tiredness and Reduced Activity:  Drug abuse creates franticly paced highs but also hard crashes.  During the periods after a high, the user will often feel low energy levels making the users less productive, particularly as they continue to use more.
  • Heart Attack:  Continued use of cocaine can impair cardiac muscles, inflammation of the muscles, and even rupture the aorta.  The results of this are heart palpitations, extreme stress on the cardiovascular system, and finally, death.
  • cardiovascular functions, the risk of users experiencing a stroke or brain damage is doubled.
  • Kidney Damage:  As one continues to drink alcohol and use cocaine, the kidneys become inflamed and, from the stress of blood filtration, may begin to fail.
  • Impairment in Logic, Critical Thinking, and Attention Span:  As one continues to use cocaine, cognitive functions and self-preservation are impaired, resulting in the inability to make rational decisions.
  • Tooth Decay:  Prolonged use of cocaine will result in tooth decay not just due to the chemical compounds found in the drug but because hygiene has taken a backseat to obtain the drug.

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Cocaine

People usually associate both cocaine and alcohol with partying and nightlife. If someone is taking cocaine in a social situation where alcohol is present or vice versa, they may consume both. Cocaine and alcohol can lead to higher impulsivity and lower inhibitions, which can increase risk-taking. The combination of cocaine and alcohol can also cause people to take more of either or both drugs, which may lead to a drug overdose.

The combination of cocaine and alcohol increases the risk of severe effects compared with using just one or the other. Mixing cocaine with alcohol can produce severe and sometimes fatal side effects, [2] such as:

Cocaine and Alcohol
 Cocaine can mask alcohol impairment and cause an intoxicated person to believe they are sober. 
  • Alcohol and drug overdose
  • Stroke
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart damage
  • Liver damage
  • increased risk of cancer
  • Organ failure
  • Increased risk of HIV or hepatitis C through injecting cocaine
  • Increased risk of suicide attempt
  • Sudden death from cocaethylene toxicity

Cocaine and Alcohol Abuse

No different from addiction to other addictive substances, the effects of cocaine and alcohol addiction can be life-altering. This includes job loss, relationship strains, financial decline, health problems, and mental instability.  Increased health problems may include stroke, seizure, heart disease, cardiovascular and respiratory complications. Alcohol and cocaine use has also been connected to cognitive disorders such as memory loss and decreased attention span.  In addition, users who share paraphernalia, especially needles, are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis.

Cocaine intoxication and alcohol addiction can compromise judgment and decision-making and potentially lead to risky sexual behavior, including trading sex for drugs and needle sharing.  This increases a cocaine user’s risk for contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C (HCV).  There are no vaccines to prevent HIV or HCV infections. [3]

Cocaine and Alcohol Overdose

Data collected by the CDC indicate that from 12 676 to 14 666 fatalities throughout the nation, the death toll from cocaine overdose significantly surged between 2015 and 2018.  Additionally, co-current cocaine and alcohol use disorders are becoming an increasing concern.  In the past five years, a tremendous rise has been seen among drug overdose deaths involving cocaine, opioids, or other synthetic narcotics.  In 1999, the overall number of overdoses involving cocaine was 3,822, and in 2018 this number hit 14,666.  The majority of this rise was seen in just the past couple of years. Getting into a drug detox program is the start of the recovery from this. [4]

Cocaine and Alcohol
As cocaine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the collective pressure they put on your body and mind can be dangerous. 

When a user continues to use cocaine for a long time, there are chances that the drug will impair their nervous system and brain functions inhibiting memory, pleasure, and decision-making. For some users, alcohol and cocaine use can quickly create a strong addiction.  For example, a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology indicated that cocaine addicts would choose the drug over food.  This strong addiction often makes it difficult to quit without help as those addicted find themselves using it despite the apparent adverse side effects.

Cocaine reacts quickly with the body system to produce a euphoria that may last for about 15 minutes to one hour because these effects depend on the mode of ingestion.  For example, when cocaine is smoked, the impact can be felt after about 30 minutes, while an intravenous injection can take only about five minutes. Long-term, continued alcohol and cocaine use quickly leads to late-stage addiction.  In this stage, the risks the user takes on are significant and critical to be aware of.  The most severe of the possible bets are that of overdose and death.

Cocaine can be deadly when taken in large doses or when mixed with other drugs or alcohol. Cocaine-related deaths often happen because the heart stops (cardiac arrest), then breathing stops. Using cocaine and drinking alcohol or using other drugs increases these dangers, including the risk of overdose.

For example, combining cocaine and heroin (known as a “speedball”) puts a person at higher risk of death from an overdose. In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or soon after. Among the deaths that occurred from cocaine use, most also included misuse of an opioid of some form, either a prescription pain reliever, heroin, or man-made opioids like fentanyl. [5]

How Long Alcohol and Cocaine Stay in the System?

The time that cocaine remains in the system can depend on the number of drugs that people take. Cocaine can appear in urine tests up to 3 days after taking it, but for a heavy user, the test may be positive for as long as 2 weeks. Cocaine can appear in a blood or saliva test for up to 2 days and show in a hair test for months or even years after the initial use.

Alcohol slows down the elimination process, so it may take longer than this for cocaine to leave the body when a person takes it alongside alcohol. Following consumption, alcohol can show for up to 6 hours in a blood test, 24 hours in a urine or saliva test, and 90 days in a hair test. [6]

Cocaine and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Detox encourages healing in a safe, comfortable environment and provides resources for withdrawal that lessen negative symptoms.  With a staff of trained practitioners and caretakers, We Level Up TX gives the ability to detox under the careful eye of professionals.

In addition, We Level Up TX works to maximize comfort, offering over-the-counter and prescription medications as needed, psychological care, and personal support to encourage abstinence from cocaine and other drugs, both today and for years to come.

Cocaine and Alcohol
No matter how bad things feel right now, you can stop using cocaine and alcohol if you want to. There’s always someone willing to listen and help, and many people in your situation have been able to move on from these types of challenges before.

We Level Up TX addiction rehabilitation center offers 24-hour detox with a medical professional to ensure you withdraw safely, followed by treatment and aftercare planning.  If you’re battling a substance use disorder (SUD) with cocaine or alcohol, please reach out to one of our admissions navigators at We Level Up TX.

Following the completion of a detox program, several different treatment options help individuals who have been struggling with addiction.  Care can be provided on inpatient services and at various levels of care.  Your addiction treatment team will recommend levels of care depending on your current progress in recovery, your experience with addiction and recovery, your motivation, and your home situation.

Contact us today if you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine and alcohol, we can help you explore addiction treatment options and how you can start with recovery.


[1] Effects of concurrent use of cocaine and alcohol – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[2-3,6] What happens when you mix cocaine and alcohol? –
[4-5] Can you overdose or die if you use cocaine? – National Institute on Drug Abuse