Cocaine: Reactions with other drugs or substances

Last modified: Thursday, 25. December 2008 - 10:07 am

Cocaine is almost always used with other drugs, including alcohol, heroin, amphetamines, and marijuana. Combining drugs increases the chances of overdose and serious side effects. The most common drug to be combined with cocaine is alcohol. Alcoholic beverages prolong the cocaine “high” and reduce drug-induced paranoia. This combination creates a new substance, cocaethylene. Cocaethylene is as potent as cocaine and lasts longer. However, it can be more toxic to the heart. The combination of cocaine and alcohol results in more deaths than any other illegal drug combination.

Combining cocaine with heroin is called a “speedball,” “dynamite,” or “whiz-bang.” It is a very dangerous combination because cocaine speeds up the respiratory system while heroin depresses it. However, at high doses, cocaine can begin to depress the respiratory system, as well. In speedballing, cocaine and heroin are typically ingested at the same time. However, some users ingest the drugs alternately to feel either more “energetic” or more “relaxed.” This combination can be more toxic than using either drug alone. Comedian John Belushi died using this combination in 1982.

Amphetamines are often combined with cocaine to extend the “high.” Cocaine creates a “rush” but it is short-lived. Adding amphetamines extends the “high” for up to ten hours. Using these drugs together increases the chances of an overdose and increases toxic effects.

Cocaine is also frequently combined with marijuana. Called a “diablito” or “turbo,” a cigar is filled with marijuana and crack and then smoked. This increases the risk to the cardiovascular system as both drugs speed up the heart and increase blood pressure.

Brompton’s mixture

In the 1970s, a combination of cocaine, methadone, and alcohol was given to terminal cancer patients. The methadone and alcohol relieved the pain but induced a lethargic and clouded state for the patients. Cocaine was added to make patients more alert. New medications are more effective and cocaine is no longer used for cancer patients.

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