Stimulants and depressants are two drug types that are considered opposites of each other. As it stands, there is virtually no reason a person should mix these two drug types together. Like in most polydrug use cases, people will mix stimulants and depressants just for recreational use. There are only a few extremely rare cases where a person would need to take both. Mixing these two together can be extremely dangerous and problematic (in the short and long-term).
Stimulants tend to increase mental and physical function (through energy and alertness). On the opposite spectrum, depressants slow down physical and mental function to create a relaxing effect. Stimulants usually have sedative and tranquilizing effects on the body and mind. When stimulants and depressants are combined, the body receives mixed signals and messages from different functions. Polydrug use cases require professional help with support and patience.
A Closer Look at Stimulants
Stimulants are usually prescribed for cases of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, and other conditions. Stimulants tend to increase energy, attention, and alertness in a person. Some of the most common forms of prescription/non-prescription stimulants include:
- Dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination (Adderall)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
The side effects and symptoms of stimulants vary depending on the type. However, there are several general stimulant effects. Some of the effects of stimulants when abused include:
- Increased breathing
- Faster heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Overly energetic/confident
- Increased blood sugar
A Closer Look at Depressants
Depressants are considered the opposite of stimulants. Depressants give off a relaxing and sedating effect on the user. Depressants are used to treat cases of sleep disorders, anxiety, muscle spasms, and other conditions. As with stimulants, depressants come in many different forms and names:
Some of the immediate effects of depressants (when abused) on the body include:
- Poor concentration
- Light-headedness and dizziness
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
- Dry mouth
- Movement and memory problems
The Dangers of Mixing Stimulants and Depressants
There are many different types of stimulants and depressants, which means there are many different dangerous combinations. Some people may mix and combine drugs for experimentation or recreation. There is no circumstance where a person should ever mix drugs, let alone stimulants and depressants. Several dangerous and problematic effects can develop after mixing these two types of drugs.
When people mix stimulants and depressants, the body is sent conflicting and contradicting messages. This can create massive impairment in the body and the mind. People who abuse these drugs alone or together rarely understand how problematic these combinations can be. Some of the severe consequences of mixing stimulants and depressants together include:
- Cardiac arrest, heart attack, or heart failure
- Depressed, slowed, or stopped breathing
When a person mixes the two together, the body is put in a rough position of intense pressure. The respiratory, central nervous, and cardiovascular systems are put into a conflicting position (whether to slow down or speed up). Some people go as far as to combine illegal substances like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other substances. These are not only extremely problematic but they have the potential to cause addiction as well.
Mixing Stimulants and Alcohol
There are serious dangers that come with mixing alcohol and stimulants. Over the years, a new dangerous trend has emerged where people mix these two substances. This combination is accessible (at bars and gas stations) and can be potentially deadly in some situations.
Alcohol on its own is considered a depressant and when combined with stimulants, it can be especially dangerous. The idea behind combining both stimulants and alcohol comes from the idea that you can counteract some of the depressant effects of alcohol with stimulants. The idea is that you will feel less drowsy and more energetic while being intoxicated. Alcohol and stimulants can be a dangerous combination. This can also create a false sense of security as a person thinks they can drink more and more as time goes on.
Some of the adverse effects of combining alcohol with stimulants include:
- Respiratory depression
- Cardiac depression
- Impaired mental coordination
Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol
A popular combination is drinking caffeine-filled energy drinks and alcohol at the same time. Many people underestimate the effects of energy drinks on the body when paired with alcohol. The stimulant properties of most energy drinks are way more effective than a simple energy boost. The amount of caffeine and other energy-creating properties make your body work on overdrive. Energy drinks directly affect a person’s cardiac system (sending it into overdrive).
This bodily overdrive can cause a multitude of issues, many similar to mixing stimulants and depressants. While this is happening, a person’s body will experience the depressant effects of alcohol on their system. These contradicting effects can cause severe stress on the heart and lungs. This can result in heart palpitations, heart attack, and even stroke. You should not mix energy drinks with a depressant like alcohol (or any other drug for that matter).
Mixing Adderall with Alcohol
Adderall and alcohol are some of the most used stimulants and depressants on the market today. Adderall is a stimulant that is used to help people focus and treat certain conditions (ADHD among others). Additionally, Adderall is characterized by a schedule 2 drug, which means a high risk of potential abuse and addiction. Alcohol, as mentioned, is a depressant. As with all instances of mixing stimulants and depressants, these two drugs do not cancel each other out but instead end up competing with each other.
Combining Adderall and alcohol can create a number of negative and dangerous effects. Alcohol poisoning is just one of the consequences of combining Adderall and alcohol. This happens when a person drinks too much alcohol in one sitting. When combining stimulants and depressants, a person may lose track of how much they’ve drunk. Additionally, there are more severe results like heart problems and behavioral issues. Some of these include:
- Increased heart rate
- Raised body temperature
- Irregular heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
Mixing Cocaine and Heroin (Speedball)
Cocaine and heroin are both illegal substances that have a high risk of abuse and addiction. Cocaine is a stimulant that substantially affects a person’s energy and focus. Heroin, on the other hand, is a central nervous system depressant and is considered an opioid. Heroin typically gives off a certain “rush” or “high” to the user and depresses/slows a person’s body down (heartbeat and breath).
Combining cocaine and heroin together is known as “speedball.” Mixing these two illegal stimulants and depressants can create fatal and highly dangerous effects. Since they are both extremely potent and abusive drugs, the body will be contradicted and stressed. Both cocaine and heroin can affect a person’s breathing and a person’s heart as well. This combination can cause severe impairment and can potentially lead to death as well.
Mixing Methamphetamine and Xanax
Methamphetamine (meth) is a widely abused stimulant that releases a euphoric high for the user. Xanax is a benzodiazepine CNS depressant that is used to treat anxiety and insomnia among other conditions. Similar to other stimulants and depressants combinations, meth affects heart rate and blood pressure while Xanax does the opposite effect.
Combining intense substances like meth and Xanax can create contradicting effects on the body, more specifically the heart and lungs. This can create unpredictable results and severe strain on the body. People who combine these two usually do so to mitigate some of the effects of stimulants. This can give a person a false sense of reality as they may think they are back to normal. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. A person may go out on the road or other risky situations that can easily lead to death or injury.
Getting Help for Polydrug Use
Polydrug use, like mixing stimulants and depressants, requires intensive and complete care. Inpatient or residential rehab is usually necessary to achieve sobriety and recovery. When dealing with polydrug use, a mix of therapy and medication is usually used in a rehab setting. Therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is usually used to treat polydrug use cases. CBT is used to improve the person’s behaviors, thoughts, and feelings towards their drug use. This is a crucial part of treatment – understanding and changing your frame of mind.
If you or a loved one is dealing with polydrug use, it may be time to get help. Phoenix Rising is here to make sure you get to a better life, for you and your family. It is never too late to reach out for professional and comprehensive help. The longer you wait, the more you may be opening the door for worse effects and consequences down the line. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and our rehab process.