The Dangers of Mixing Antidepressants and Other Drugs

Drug addiction has many risks. One of these risks is that drug addiction negatively affects your health. Probably the biggest health risk that drug addicts face is the risk of overdose. It’s impossible to figure out what percentage of addicts overdose, but you can be sure the number is large. The reason why this happens so often is because many addicts often mix drugs together, says Johnny K – owner of True Life Recovery, a detox center in Orange County, California.

The Dangers of Mixing Antidepressants and Other Drugs

This doesn’t only refer to street drugs. In many cases, mixing various types of medications with drugs can lead to serious issues. These medications can also include medications such as antidepressants. Mixing antidepressants with other drugs is extremely dangerous and should never be done. And this doesn’t only apply to street drugs. Antidepressants should never be taken together with any type of drug. Many people abuse prescription medication such as Xanax, and this can have fatal consequences. According to experts mixing drugs may have the following consequences. 

  • Mixing antidepressants with other antidepressants like heroin or alcohol will increase the depressant effect. Your heart rate and breathing will slow down dramatically, and this can have fatal consequences. 
  • Combining antidepressants with stimulants like cocaine and ecstasy is also a bad idea. Your heart will speed up and this may also be fatal. 
  • Certain medications like lithium should never be mixed with anything. It’s very difficult to ascertain what will happen to you. In some cases the effects of the drug are blocked or reduced, in others they are magnified. The lithium may also become toxic or you could become dehydrated
  • When SSRI antidepressants are mixed with stimulants like cocaine you may experience a brain haemorrhage or high blood pressure. What you also have to understand about cocaine and SSRIs is that both of these drugs boost the levels of serotonin in your brain. High levels of this chemical may cause something called serotonin syndrome. This is a condition which causes confusion, anxiety, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting seizures, and even comas. Another drug which should be avoided when on SSRIs is MDMA. This drug also boosts the levels of serotonin in your brain and can send you into shock or even cause an overdose. 
  • Also avoid abusing cough syrup when taking antidepressants, especially MAOIs. Mixing these two drugs may lead to feelings of drowsiness, which can be dangerous if you’re driving or operating heavy machinery. Mixing these drugs may also lead to liver damage and internal bleeding. 

Ultimately, mixing antidepressants and other drugs is a really bad idea. This may create a toxic mix which harms organs like your kidneys. The only time you should consider mixing drugs is if your doctor has prescribed the drugs, and knows that you’re on antidepressants. Even in this case there may be complications. 

And while mixing antidepressants and other drugs is dangerous, something far worse is mixing these drugs with alcohol. In fact, it can be  lethal. If you’re taking antidepressants, it’s best to give up drinking altogether. Remember, alcohol is a depressant. This means that taking it will probably make you feel even worse than you do now. Many people who have problems with antidepressants experience these issues because they are mixing alcohol with their medication. Doing this can lead to many problems. Some of these include the following:

  • Your feeling of anxiety and depression may dramatically increase. Everyone has had the experience of suddenly feeling depressed when drinking. Combining alcohol with antidepressants may increase these feelings exponentially. 
  • If you’re taking multiple medications (such as anti-anxiety, pain medications, or sleeping pills) then these side effects may grow worse. 
  • Combining alcohol with MAOIs can be deadly. MAOIs are a specific type of antidepressant known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Taking these along with alcohol can cause sudden and extreme spikes in blood pressure. 
  • You may become cognitively impaired. Alcohol and antidepressants will affect your reaction time, motor skills, judgement, and coordination. This combination may also put you to sleep. You may feel drowsy, become sedated, or pass out. Your ability to drive or do other tasks will also be impaired. 

The bottom line is that if you’re taking antidepressants, it’s probably a good idea to give up alcohol. If you’re unable to do this then at least drink moderately. While people who drink alcohol are at risk there is also another group of people who have these issues. These are people who have been to rehab or who are in treatment. The reason why is because these people are often put onto some kind of medication. This medication may include things like tranquilisers or antidepressants. The problem is when these people relapse. They may still be taking their medication and then mix this with street drugs. This can create a deadly cocktail. 

Happy sad meds

Many people in this situation may skip their doses of antidepressants because they want to take drugs. But is this safe and can you do this?

Unfortunately the answer is no. You see, antidepressants don’t work like a light switch. These medications are not something which you can turn on and off. The reason is because antidepressants only work once they have built up in your system. It’s not simply a case of taking the pills and feeling better. They only really start to work after you’ve been taking them for several weeks or even months. 

What this means is that the chemicals which they contain – and which make them work – can stay in your body for months after you’ve quit taking them. These medications are not like street drugs which last for short periods of time. They have a far longer lifespan. This means that you cannot simply skip your medication for the day because you want to take drugs. Doing this is still extremely dangerous and should never be done. Ultimately you should realize that antidepressants are extremely powerful medications and you shouldn’t take chances with them. Also realize that these medications are for people who are serious about getting clean. You should only start taking them once you’ve been sober for a period of time, and if you can trust yourself to stay clean.

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The Best Ways To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms From Drugs And Alcohol

When addicts get clean, it doesn’t take long for them to start noticing the benefits. Their lives, in general, are better, but they will also notice a big change in the way that they feel physically and mentally. Addiction of any kind takes a big toll on your body and when you get rid of that habit and your body starts to repair itself, you will feel so much better. But things have to get worse before they get better and so many people don’t make it far enough to see any benefits because they fall at the first hurdle. The first few days and weeks are often the hardest because you have to get through the withdrawal symptoms. If you are a heavy user, withdrawal symptoms can be horrible to deal with and a lot of people think that it’s easier to live with the addiction than it is to try to go clean. But if you can make it past the withdrawal stage and start to feel some of the physical benefits, the rest of your journey will start to feel a lot less daunting. These are some of the best ways to manage withdrawal symptoms when you are a recovering addict.

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Speak To A Counsellor

Most people experience a deep depression when they first come off drugs and alcohol. When you take away that high that you got from using drugs or alcohol, you are left with the polar opposite feeling. If you are an addict, it’s likely that drink or drugs were central to your life and so when you give them up, you are left with a void. When the depression hits hard, it’s easy to convince yourself that it’s not worth getting clean if it’s going to make you feel this bad, and you would be better off using again.

Increased anxiety is very common as well because alcohol and drugs are often used as a way to combat anxiety. When you take away that crutch, those feelings come flooding back, usually much stronger than before. But the good news is, as long as you can stay sober, this anxiety will not last that long.

The important thing here is that you don’t let these feelings overwhelm you and you don’t reach straight for the drink and drugs to combat them. Instead, you need to find healthier ways to process your feelings and put things in perspective again, which is why seeing a counsellor is a good idea if you are going through withdrawal. One of the most important things that they will do is remind you that these feelings are temporary and they are partly a result of your withdrawal. But they can also help you start to tackle the underlying problems that lead to your addiction issues in the first place.

Consider Medications

In the past, you had to go it alone with your withdrawal symptoms but that isn’t the case anymore. There are medications available that activate the pleasure receptors in your brain in the same way that drugs and alcohol do. That means that they can improve the withdrawal symptoms and make things a lot easier for you. You should seek the advice of a doctor and see if there is anything that they can offer you to help you get through the first few weeks. When you are going through withdrawal, it’s likely that you will take some time off work and things might be a little chaotic, so it’s a good idea to find an online pharmacy like Simple Online Doctor and have medication sent directly to your house. That way, you can make sure that you keep up with the medication and you cut the risk of relapsing. Taking medication can make a huge difference to your withdrawal symptoms and make it a lot more bearable, which increases your chances of getting through the difficult early stages.

Spend Time With Family

When things get really hard and you are considering using again, you need things to remind you why you are going clean in the first place. It’s easy to lose sight of that when the withdrawal symptoms make you feel so awful, which is why it’s good to be near friends and family. The people around you suffer from your addiction as well and it has a huge impact on them. When you are in the midst of your addiction, you are not thinking about them and you cause them a lot of distress. They have a lot to lose if you relapse as well, and being reminded of that can help you get through the difficult early period.

A lot of people fall at the first hurdle because withdrawal can be horrible to deal with, but if you can make it through that, you stand a much better chance of staying sober for good.

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The Ties Between Alcohol and Cancer

Alcohol is one of the most used substances in the country, and one of the deadliest. It is important to learn more about the dangers and health risks associated with overindulging in alcohol. Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States and, according to the National Institutes of Health, leads to the death of 88,000 Americans annually. One of the most common problems associated with over drinking is cancer.

Excessive alcohol use leads to the development of a number of different types of cancers. Based on data from 2009, it is estimated that 3.5 percent of cancer deaths in the United States were alcohol related.

The Ties Between Alcohol and Cancer

Types of Alcohol-Related Cancers

There is clear evidence that the use of alcohol leads to the development of multiple types of cancer. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists alcohol as one of the known human carcinogens in a report.

Head and Neck Cancer

Oral and throat cancers are more prevalent in drinkers than non-drinkers. Specifically, moderate drinkers have a 1.8-fold higher risk of developing these types of cancers than those who don’t drink. For heavy drinkers, it is even higher, as they are five times as likely as developing these types of cancer. Similarly, the risk is even higher if the person uses tobacco as well.

Esophagus Cancer

Alcohol abuse is also associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer. Similar to oral and throat cancers, those who use alcohol moderately have a slightly higher risk of developing this type of cancer, but heavy drinkers are five times as likely to develop it.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among alcohol users. In fact, those who drink are two times as likely to develop this type of cancer as nondrinkers.

Breast Cancer

Studies have shown clear evidence that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in those who drink alcohol compared with non-drinkers. Heavy drinkers specifically are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Colon Cancer

Alcohol consumption leads to a 20 to 50 percent increase in the risks of cancers of colon and rectum compared with no alcohol use at all.

There is mounting evidence that alcohol consumption is linked to a number of other cancers and that it is associated with increased risks of melanoma and prostate and pancreatic cancers.

Woman drink

Why Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk

There are a number of hypothesized reasons that alcohol use leads to an increase in the risk of different types of cancers, however, the exact risk isn’t completely understood. One hypothesis is that when the body breaks down ethanol, it turns it into acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical, and probable carcinogen, the substance can damage both the DNA and proteins in the body. Similarly, cells that are damaged by alcohol may try and repair themselves, but this can lead to DNA changes and can be a step toward cancer.

While there is no proven way to avoid cancer completely, there are steps that you can take to help lower your risk of alcohol-related cancer.

For one, you can work to limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages. For men, this means limiting yourself to no more than one or two drinks per day, and for women drinking no more than one drink per day.

Moreover, avoiding binge drinking or drinking heavily can help to reduce your risk of alcohol-related cancer as the risk of cancer increases with the more alcohol that you drink. However, even light drinking can lead to an increased risk of developing some type of cancer. Reducing binge drinking will also help with a number of other physical health problems.

Tobacco

There is much evidence that shows the combination of alcohol and tobacco leads to a much greater risk of developing oral and throat cancers than just using one or the other. The problem becomes much worse if tobacco and alcohol are used together.

Bottles Alcohol

Getting Alcohol Treatment

Recognizing that you or your loved one has a drinking problem is just the first step. For most, getting sober is not an easy process and it is a lifelong struggle. Luckily, there are many treatment options across the country that can help those with alcohol use disorder. Going through an alcohol treatment program can be frightening, especially if you don’t know exactly what to expect. But the more you learn about what treatment can offer the more comfortable you will likely feel about the situation.

Drug and alcohol treatment centers are there to help patients safely detox and to educate patients on the details of addiction and how to prevent relapse following discharge from a facility.

When it comes to getting treatment, detoxification is one of the most important steps in achieving sobriety, especially for those dealing with alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use can lead to dangerous, even life-threatening withdrawals if not handled properly. There are a number of worrisome symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, including:

  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Auditory and visual disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting and more

Alcoholism treatment

A treatment center will likely provide medically supervised detoxification for new patients. Detoxification can last somewhere between a couple of days to a week. During detoxification, patients will overcome the symptoms and problems associated with withdrawals and newfound sobriety. This will allow the patients to deal with hard physical problems before they begin behavioral treatment.

After detoxification, patients will be exposed to group and one-on-one therapy sessions to help them learn more about the details and processes of addiction. Some styles of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, will be used to help patients identify triggers that could lead to a relapse. Following inpatient treatment, patients will likely be given a discharge plan and pointed toward an outpatient facility to help them continue their treatment while getting adjusted back to normal life.

Treatment centers are there to help. They’re there to be a part of the solution and save as many people as possible.


About The Author

Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, drug and alcohol rehab centers in Indiana. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke Matthew went on to work for the Boston Consulting Group before he realized his true passion lies within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention.


 

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