Dangers of Mixing Meth and Alcohol

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is made up of the chemical ethanol and is created by a sugar conversion process by yeast from grains, fruits, and vegetables. The psychoactive ingredient is found in beer, wine, and liquor. People drink alcohol to relax, socialize, take their minds off their worries and celebrate an occasion, amongst other reasons.

Over 80% of people in the USA consume alcohol according to a 2019 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey. Despite its normalization in many cultures, alcohol is one of the most deadly and addictive substances for humans. It was also found that over 25% of people regularly participate in binge drinking; the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

Alcohol interacts with the brain’s communication pathways and changes the way it functions to alter mood, behavior, and coordination. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it decreases the amount of signals being sent between the nerves in the body and the brain.

This results in a number of short-term effects which can appear after just one drink. These can last for a number of hours depending on how much alcohol is consumed. Some of these effects include:

  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Euphoria
  • Lowered in inhibitions
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Slurred or slowed speech
  • Impaired thinking
  • Memory impairment
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Head pain

Regular binge drinking can be damaging to a person’s physical and mental health and well-being, with long-term effects of drinking the substance including:

  • Persistent changes in mood, such as anxiety and irritability
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Sleep disorders
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Lowered immune system and an increased rate of illness
  • Changes in libido
  • Increased conflict in personal relationships
  • Damage to cells in the body
  • Changes hormone levels

Due to these damaging effects on humans, around 95,000 people annually die from alcohol-attributed causes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alongside posing a risk of a fatal overdose, alcohol consumption increases a person’s risk for a number of deadly diseases such as:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Seven types of cancer: breast, bowel, mouth, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver
  • Kidney damage
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis

Alcohol Addiction and Dependency

Alcohol Addiction and Dependency

As mentioned, alcohol is a highly addictive substance. Nearly fifteen million people ages twelve and older live with alcohol addiction – also called alcohol use disorder. Alcohol addiction can be described as a chronic relapsing disorder that is associated with compulsive drinking despite the negative impact it may be having on their personal, professional, monetary, and legal situation. This powerful and complex mental illness can take over the reward, pleasure, and decision-making centers of a person’s brain, changing its chemical and physical structure.

Common signs of alcohol use disorder include:

  • Intense cravings for alcohol
  • Wanting to stop drinking but not being able to
  • Diverting energy from work, family, and social life in order to drink, resulting in problems in these areas
  • Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyable
  • Being secretive about the extent of the alcohol misuse in order to protect it
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as drunk driving
  • Getting into legal troubles
  • Weight changes
  • Being in denial about the extent of the alcohol misuse problem
  • Becoming distressed at the prospect of not having access to alcohol and avoiding situations where it isn’t possible to drink

The body naturally wants to find balance in its processes. When someone regularly partakes in binge drinking over an extended period of time, their body adapts to the intake of the substance to find balance and becomes dependent on it to function. If someone with alcohol dependency suddenly decreases the amount they drink or stops altogether, they can experience intense withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can include mild to deadly symptoms. These range from:

  • Intense cravings
  • Shaky hands
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • High heart rate
  • Fever
  • Extreme confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

What is Meth?

Meth – or methamphetamine – is a highly potent CNS stimulant. Among people aged twelve and older, 2.6 million people in the USA used methamphetamine in the last year, according to it a 2020 survey from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Meth was created for medical use, being prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the sleep disorder narcolepsy, though due to the high it creates, is abused as a street drug. The highly addictive chemical commonly comes in a blueish-white crystal form. People can take meth in various ways, including:

  • Inhalation
  • Injecting power that has been dissolved in liquid
  • Injection in pill form
  • Snorting powder

Meth's Effects on the Body

Meth’s Effects on the Body

When meth is consumed, its user feels almost immediate effects from the drug. These can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Wakefulness and increased physical activity
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and breathing rate
  • Sweating
  • Lowered in inhibitions
  • Partaking in risky and impulsive behavior such as unprotected sex

The euphoric high is due to meth’s interaction with the brain. The drug prompts the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine and influences its reward systems. This natural chemical plays a key role in body movement, desires, motivation, and rewards, pushing people to repeatedly abuse the drug.

When the rapid high wears off, more unpleasant symptoms can appear. There are also a number of disease risks with taking meth, some are specific to the method of administration. These include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Increased aggression, irritability, and violence
  • Rapid weight loss and poor appetite
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Dental decay
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Increased risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C if injected
  • Meth mouth (a kind of oral decay damage)
  • Cognitive decline due to changes in brain structure and function
  • Heart failure

Meth Addiction and Dependency

As with alcohol use disorder, meth addiction also holds a powerful hold over people’s minds; changing how their brain functions to keep on repeating the drug-taking behavior. These neurological changes may be able to be reversed one year after stopping taking the drug, though for some people their brains never repair.

Methamphetamine’s short-lived euphoric high and rapidly intense withdrawal symptoms results in a high potential for abuse and addiction to the drug. People tend to binge on the drug, taking repeated doses to avoid crashing down. When people take meth over and over for multiple days this is called a “run.” Here people give up sleeping and eating in order to stay up and keep taking meth.

Withdrawals for a person dependent on meth include:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Severe depression
  • Psychosis

Mixing Meth and Alcohol

Combining multiple kinds of drugs is termed poly-drug use and is quite common, with 16% of methamphetamine-related emergency hospital visits also involving alcohol abuse. People engage in this activity to adjust the high they experience and it is possible to become addicted to both when they do this.

Why Do People Mix Meth and Alcohol?

Mixing meth and alcohol is a way to:

  • Enhance the effects of meth: alcohol slows down the metabolism of meth, meaning it stays in the body longer and the high is amplified
  • Counteract the depressant effects of alcohol: as methamphetamine is a CNS stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the two drugs counteract some of the effects of the other. In this case, the euphoric high is maintained while the cognitive impairments from the alcohol are lessened.
  • Offset meth’s uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms

Meth and Alcohol Abuse

Meth and Alcohol Abuse

The extended and amplified high that comes from combining meth and alcohol results in a higher chance of abuse, addiction, and the chance of overdose compared to if the substances were taken individually.

Combining meth and alcohol can cause extremely disruptive withdrawals that can impact the way the body and mind function. These are a combination of symptoms from each of the drugs, such as vomiting, intense drug cravings, and psychosis.

Meth abuse is a lot easier to spot than alcohol abuse due to the more intense effects of the substance, when the two drugs are abused in tandem some resulting symptoms include:

  • Increased drinking
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations (both from alcohol and meth abuse)
  • Psychosis
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Increased chance of a fatal overdose

What Are the Dangers of Mixing Meth and Alcohol?

On top of the health risks that each substance poses when abused alone, alcohol and meth abuse comes with added dangers also. Mixing alcohol and meth results in users not feeling the effects of the substances as strongly as before and being less drunk despite consuming large amounts of alcohol. This results in risky behavior – like drunk driving – as people underestimate their intoxication levels.

Furthermore, this encourages more heavy consumption of alcohol for the user to feel drunker, increasing the risk of alcohol toxicity. Alone meth and alcohol both pose a chance of suffering from a fatal overdosing, though when combined this risk is increased even further.

The crash when coming down from meth is actually worsened when going through an alcohol hangover also. People will often feel intense depressive symptoms and intense discomfort during this period, increasing their risk of death by suicide. These substances combined are also extremely dangerous for the neurological development of unborn babies.

Signs of an Overdose from Alcohol and Meth

If you suspect you or someone you are with has overdosed from alcohol, meth, or a combination of the two, ring the emergency services immediately. It is helpful to have the following information:

  • The person’s age
  • The person’s weight
  • The amount of meth and alcohol that was consumed
  • When the person last took the drugs
  • How the meth was taken (smoked, snorted, etc.)
  • Any other information about the person’s medical history

When an overdose is occurring, the body and brain are overstimulated, resulting in deadly effects. It can be difficult to detect an overdose as many of the signs are similar to the high of the substances. Here are the symptoms to look out for:

  • Agitation
  • Overheating, which can cause organ failure
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Unresponsiveness or coma

Alcohol and Meth Addiction and Dependency Treatment

Alcohol and Meth Addiction and Dependency Treatment

Medical Detox

The first step on the path to a drug-free life is undergoing a medical detox, where the person stops taking the substance and becomes sober. This can last from 3 days to a week and it is vital that a trained professional is there to assist in this process, offering around-the-clock care and being able to prescribe medication if necessary. This makes the process as safe and successful as possible.

When wanting to quit meth and alcohol, it can be appealing to go cold turkey to move past the intense and uncomfortable withdrawals as swiftly as possible. However, it is essential this is done under expert medical supervision as alcohol and meth withdrawal can be fatal.

Therapy and Counseling

Medical detox is the first step in the difficult journey to defeat addiction, though this is just the start of the process. Undergoing therapy is essential for the success of long-term recovery. It is important to access therapy or counseling from a certified addiction professional who uses evidence-backed techniques to help their clients face their addiction.

The job of a drug abuse counselor or therapist is to:

  • Work through trauma associated with the addiction
  • Identify triggers that may contribute to substance taking
  • Help build new coping mechanisms
  • Diagnose any underlying mental health conditions

Rehabilitation Centers

Attending an inpatient program at an addiction treatment facility allows people to overcome their substance use disorder in a fresh and relaxing environment with medical staff on call if needed. Going through treatment in a space not associated with past drug-taking habits or negative memories allows for more success during the recovery process.

Rehabilitation centers also offer a valuable chance to gain a sense of routine and pick up healthy eating and exercise habits. This allows for the body to start to repair from the damage drug abuse enacts on it and for this healthier way of living to be taken forward into the person’s life when they finish their program at the addiction treatment facility.

Treatment centers offer professional treatment advice from drug abuse counselors that is highly individualized to the patient at hand, commonly offering multiple kinds of therapy and approaches depending on what kind of recovery is needed.

The cost of treating drug and alcohol dependence varies between treatment centers, what kind of substance abuse needs treating, and if any other medical or mental health conditions are present.

Support Groups

Support Groups

Support groups can be an incredibly valuable resource when overcoming any form of addiction. Whether you are the person with a substance use disorder yourself or if it was someone in your life, the supportive and understanding environment of support groups can be vitally healing. Hearing other people’s stories, tips and journeys can offer a source of inspiration and let people know they are not alone in this battle against their addiction.

Contact Us

Overcoming a meth and alcohol addiction is not an easy challenge to face, however, with professional guidance, it is possible to overcome your substance use disorder and gain back control over your life.

At NP Addiction, we offer a number of programs built around an evidence-based methodology to ensure our clients have a swift and successful recovery. This includes therapy, physical activities, and mindfulness. To find out more information, contact us today.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine