meth and alcohol

Dangers of Mixing Meth and Alcohol

While meth and alcohol are dangerous substances when taken on their own, their combined effects can be extremely dangerous and fatal. It’s important to understand the physical impact and consequences of combining these substances, as well as what to do if you are struggling with addiction and polysubstance abuse.

bag of meth
Meth is an addictive central nervous system stimulant and Schedule II controlled substance in the US that’s led to 1.8 million people developing substance use disorders as of 2022.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine (also known as meth) is a stimulant known for its powerful “high,” increasing alertness and decreasing appetite. It profoundly affects the central nervous system and boosts mood, energy, and concentration. However, with chronic use, these effects become less pronounced. As addiction develops, the user may experience psychosis, depression, and even violent behavior. Some people take meth continuously for several days, forgoing sleep and food in favor of drugs. This is known as a drug binge.

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Effects of Meth On The Body

The chemical effects of meth causes dopamine levels to increase in the brain. Dopamine is a “feel good” hormone that increases motivation in the brain’s reward system. While the brain naturally produces dopamine, meth causes this process to ramp up, which is why people continue to use it, despite negative social and health consequences. Meth can cause adverse short-term health effects such as:

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Lack of sleep
  • Loss of appetite or nausea
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia
  • Intense feelings of euphoria

If you are a chronic user, your risks of long-term damage increase. These risks include:

  • Permanent brain or cardiovascular damage
  • Hypertension
  • Lung, kidney, or liver damage
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
  • Intense itching sensation
  • Dental problems
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease

Some studies indicate long-term meth use can substantially impact areas of the brain responsible for emotion, memory, learning, and coordination.

Read more: Devastating Effects of Prolonged Meth Use

What Is Alcohol?

While meth is a stimulant, alcohol is considered a depressant. Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, which is a type of alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol is dangerous and has devastating social and economic consequences. Approximately 6.7% of adults in the United States will develop alcohol use disorder in their lifetime.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol?

Alcohol can drastically change the way you think and feel. Like meth, alcohol increases the amount of dopamine released by the brain. However, this “dopamine high” begins to wear off as you drink more. The more you drink, the cloudier your judgment becomes, and you may feel confused, nauseous, or dehydrated. When a person becomes intoxicated, their inhibitions fade, and they are more likely to do things they otherwise wouldn’t.

Alcohol Use and Potential Effects on the Body

While meth has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, alcohol is a depressant. Although there are some similarities, the effects of alcohol tend to be different overall. Alcohol consumption may cause:

  • Slowed reaction time
  • Confusion and impaired judgment
  • Memory loss or blackouts
  • Slurred speech
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Coma or death

Long-term alcohol abuse leads to serious health consequences, including:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dependence and addiction

Women are advised not to drink any alcohol during pregnancy, as this may cause the fetus to develop congenital disabilities and severe, lifelong cognitive abnormalities.

woman experiencing alcohol blackouts and personality changes
Like meth, alcohol increases the amount of dopamine released by the brain.

Why Might Someone Mix Meth and Alcohol?

Both drugs are highly addictive, and someone might mix these two during a binge. Using two or more substances at the same time is called polysubstance abuse. This practice is not uncommon — but highly dangerous. While using any illicit substance is harmful, a 2019 publication found nearly 50 percent of drug overdose deaths involved two or more drugs.

Additionally, a 2014 study found binge drinking increased the likelihood of meth use among regular users. During this study, the researchers hypothesized using both substances together may increase the intensity of the high of each substance. In addition, using meth and alcohol together can decrease some of the adverse effects of each. For instance, meth may decrease the sedating effects of alcohol, while alcohol may alleviate the insomnia associated with meth use.

What Are the Dangers of Mixing Meth With Alcohol?

Mixing meth and alcohol increases your risk of overdose or alcohol poisoning. Because each substance masks the effects of the other, you may not realize how intoxicated you are or the amount of meth you have ingested. Ingesting too much meth at once can cause severe hypertension, which may lead to a fatal heart attack.

Both substances cause changes in mood and demeanor, and you may act violently and recklessly, which can lead to criminal behavior, arrest, and incarceration. Meth is known to increase sexual arousal and lowers your inhibitions. This combination increases your chances of engaging in high-risk sexual activities, leaving you vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancy.

Why Is Polysubstance Abuse Treatment Necessary?

For users of meth and alcohol, polysubstance abuse treatment is necessary to prevent long-term psychological, physical, and social consequences. Treatment involves a combination of therapies, including medication-assisted treatment, individual and group therapy, and alternative holistic forms of treatment.

Dual-diagnosis treatment programs are typically the ideal form of treatment for people with co-occurring drug use and mental health issues. By addressing the reasons behind the substance abuse and your mental, spiritual, and physical needs, your chances of staying sober increase.

Are You Covered For Treatment?

Oasis Recovery Center partners with numerous private insurance providers. Our team is committed to assisting you in quickly and effortlessly verifying your insurance coverage for treatment.

What Can You Expect When You Enter Treatment?

Once you arrive, you will thoroughly assess your mental, medical, and emotional needs. A supervised medical drug and alcohol detox is often the next step. Detox allows your body to eliminate all traces of methamphetamines and alcohol from your system while under the care of medical professionals. You may receive medication to help you get through this process safely. Afterward, you will begin the next phase of your individualized treatment plan, which may consist of various therapies and programs.

Partial Hospitalization Program

A partial hospitalization program is an option for those in early recovery. Typically, clients must report to the facility during the day from Monday through Friday and return to a sober living facility in the evening. Partial hospitalization allows clients to build a community with other residents and learn essential life skills (cooking, cleaning, self-care, etc.) while attending an immersive treatment program.

Intensive Outpatient Program

Some clients may not need a full-time treatment program or have additional obligations preventing them from attending more immersive programming. Intensive outpatient programs also allow clients to stay at a sober living facility while attending part-time treatment. Clients are encouraged to seek out additional forms of treatment, such as twelve-step groups, and return to work or school. These programs help the client transition into fully independent living.

Aftercare Planning

Clients who complete addiction treatment programs will work with their team of therapists and treatment center staff to create a plan to help them integrate back into society. With the positive guidance and support of their peers and treatment specialists, they will learn how to stay accountable and how to identify triggers before a potential relapse.

group of people holding hands
For users of meth and alcohol, polysubstance abuse treatment is necessary to prevent long-term psychological, physical, and social consequences.

What Kind of Therapies Are Available While in Treatment?

Different therapeutic forms are necessary in rehabilitation centers because they help clients overcome various issues. Addiction is multi-faceted, and there are usually physiological and challenging emotional components involved. Some clients find specific treatment techniques more effective than others. While there are some similarities, every client’s path to recovery is unique.

Individual Therapy

The goal of individual therapy is to help you understand the causes of your addiction and to develop appropriate recovery skills. While group therapy is beneficial for many, some clients feel safer speaking to their therapist about significant traumatic events alone. During individual therapy, your therapist will work with you to establish trust and create positive coping mechanisms to help you stay clean and sober.

Group Therapy

Many who struggle with addiction grow more isolated as their addiction takes hold. Group therapy allows you to practice communication skills with others, establish mutual accountability, and build a supportive community. The skills used in group therapy help clients learn how to cultivate relationships, strengthening their likelihood of maintaining sobriety.

Family Therapy

Alcohol and meth abuse affects the entire family, not just the individual using. When clients’ families become involved in their recovery, they are more likely to remain clean. Family therapy aims to educate the family members on the process of addiction and recovery and to heal the damage caused by the client’s addictive behaviors. Because family-related stress is often a trigger and reinforcer of addictive patterns, family therapy is essential for many clients.

Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy covers a variety of experiential treatments addressing the social, emotional, and psychological aspects of addiction recovery. The premise of addiction therapy is to return a client’s body to complete balance. You will engage in various activities which work to restore balance, including:

These therapies treat the entire person and not just the addiction. Pairing holistic therapeutic techniques with more traditional modalities will help you learn about additional tools you can use if a trigger arises or during any other stressful situation.   

Meth & Alcohol Addiction Treatment In Asheville, NC

If you or someone you know is abusing meth and alcohol, contact Oasis Recovery Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Our addiction treatment was founded using the Oasis Model, a comprehensive approach to treatment that combines evidence-based and holistic therapy methods to create individualized treatment plans. Even if you’re unsure about recovery, talking to one of our compassionate admissions agents can help you understand your treatment options for the future. Call, email, or fill out a form today to get started.

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