Synergism Between Alcohol and Other Drugs

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Synergism is the term for when two drugs are taken together and produce a multiplying effect. This concept is widely associated with mixing alcohol and another substance. The synergistic interaction between alcohol and other drugs contributes to the lethal potential of drug-taking behavior.

What Is Synergism?

Synergism is similar to potentiation. This means that if two drugs are used together that are similar in action, the effect will be exaggerated compared to when each drug is taken separately at the given dose. 

For example, alcohol and barbiturates are both depressants, so taking them together can cause serious harm. Both substances work to reduce the amount of activity in the central nervous system. If taken alone, the substances will most likely cause less harm than combining the two. This can increase the chances of addiction, risky behavior, or even death. 

Dangers of Synergistic Interactions

Mixing drugs and alcohol is not unusual. It is common for people to resort to using alcohol as a “chaser” when taking medication or using recreational drugs. However, synergism between alcohol and other drugs is medically dangerous to your health, accountability, judgment, and sobriety. A person is more likely to develop a dependency or addiction when two substances are combined. Two drugs that produce overtly similar effects will sometimes create an exaggerated effect when taken concurrently. 

How Do Other Drugs Interact With Alcohol?

As mentioned, mixing alcohol and other sedatives such as barbiturates, causes mood swings, aggression, slurred speech, disorientation, seizures, and death. Mixing alcohol with marijuana can cause sedation, irritability, blackouts, hallucinations, violent behavior, and distorted perceptions. Cocaine and other stimulants cause mood elevation, increased energy, anxiety, increased blood pressure, paranoia, and overdosing when mixed with alcohol. 

Combining alcohol and opiates can cause respiratory failure, nausea, sedation, body aches, physical withdrawals, and lowered body functions (such as blood pressure, pulse, and reflexes). Ingesting hallucinogens and alcohol can lead to altered perceptions, psychosis, impaired cognitive function, and dissociation. 

Synergistic interactions between alcohol and other drugs cause physical side-effects, impaired reasoning, judgment, and self-control. Combining substances prolongs feelings of intoxication and exacerbates your chances of developing a substance use disorder. Valiant Living is an outpatient treatment facility located in beautiful Denver, CO. We specialize in treating co-disorders associated with substance use and mental health disorders. If you or someone you love needs help managing a co-disorder, contact us at (303) 952-5035 and speak with one of our friendly staff members.