Alcohol with Controlled Substances
Mixing alcohol, even in moderation, with any controlled substance is dangerous. A controlled substance in the United States is defined by its schedule according to the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs are illicit and have no medical purpose; Schedule II substances are addictive and often abused but can still be prescribed for limited medical reasons; and so on. Schedules help the government define how addictive a substance is versus how important it is for medical purposes and how easy it should be for the public to have access to the drug.
However, any of the drugs scheduled per the CSA can be dangerous or cause serious side effects when mixed with alcohol. For example, benzodiazepines are Schedule IV, so they are not considered very dangerous; however, they can greatly enhance the effects of alcohol on the body, leading to extreme intoxication, dangerous side effects, and a higher risk of alcohol poisoning after fewer drinks.
Alcohol and illicit drugs like cocaine or marijuana can be very dangerous too. Central nervous system depressants, like marijuana or opioids, create a relaxed high; alcohol intensifies that sensation but also increases the serious side effects, like nausea, dizziness, cognitive and memory problems, mood depression, and changes to breathing and heart rate.
People who abuse stimulants, like amphetamines or cocaine, may ingest alcohol to modulate the intensity of the stimulant’s side effects; twitching, anxiety, and paranoia are all side effects from taking illicit stimulants at recreational doses, while heart palpitations, breathing problems, memory issues, hallucinations, delusions, and stroke are all risks from taking too much of a stimulant drug. Mixing alcohol with these drugs may reduce some of these sensations, but it can increase the risk of heart damage, stroke, breathing problems, overheating, and organ damage, especially to the liver and kidneys.