Polysubstance use is when someone takes two or more types of substances at the same time or within a short period of time. This can be intentional or unintentional, but the word remains the same. In 2019 alone, 50% of all overdose-related deaths involved multiple substances. So why do people take multiple substances at a time? Are there some that are more commonly paired than others? Today we’ll be looking specifically at Xanax and cocaine, why people mix them, and what happens when you do.
Here in Arizona, we had over 2,500 overdose deaths in 2020. This accounted for nearly 35% of deaths in our state that year. One of our goals here at Pinnacle Peak Recovery is to lower these numbers. Anyone is capable of recovering from substance use disorders. One of the ways we work to help is by offering educational material so people can have answers when they need them most.
Why Do People Mix Xanax and Cocaine?
Polysubstance use often stems from people experimenting with the feelings they can experience while under the influence. They might’ve heard about it as a recommendation from a friend, or maybe they’ve tried the two (or more) substances separately before and had the idea to try them together.
In the case of Xanax and cocaine, one of the common reasons people take them in combination is to help counteract certain negative feelings that can occur when taking the opposite substance. Many people experience unwanted side effects while coming down from stimulants like cocaine, so they take Xanax to try and alleviate those symptoms. While no level of drug use is safe, mixing substances is never safe either. Combining the two can cause negative effects as a result.
What Happens to Your Body When You Mix Xanax and Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant, but Xanax is a depressant. This means that they impact your body in two different ways.
Stimulants like cocaine target the dopamine systems within your brain. Instead of allowing the dopamine, aka the reward chemical within your brain, to naturally come and go, it keeps it in one place which increases the euphoria a person experiences. At the same time, it can also stimulate dopamine production, which can lead to a rush of dopamine that lingers during the duration of your high.
Depressants, on the other hand, impact your central nervous system which is the primary messaging system within your body. They work to slow it down, meaning they could be used as tranquilizers, to help people with panic attacks, or to even help people with seizures.
The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Cocaine
There are a few things that can occur when you take different substances like Xanax and cocaine close together or at the same time. Since they impact different parts of the body, your system is put under a lot of stress to try and manage the two competing effects. This can lead to side effects such as heart problems, dehydration, overheating, and even kidney failure.
In addition, many people choose to take these two substances to potentially negate any negative effects they don’t want to experience. Since a stimulant and a depressant are close to opposites, it can feel like the effects are canceling out. This can be very dangerous as it might make you believe you’re less intoxicated than you actually are. When this happens, people may continue to take more of a substance thinking they need to in order to feel the effects, not realizing that their bodies are still processing what was previously put into them. This is what can lead to an increased risk of overdose.
Xanax’s Side Effects
Xanax is a prescription medication that’s usually prescribed to help people manage panic attacks, sleep disorders, and seizure conditions. It’s a benzodiazepine that is short-acting, meaning that it enters the system, does its job, and exits the system in a small period of time. Even when taken as prescribed, there are side effects from xanax you could experience from it. Misusing the medication can increase the risk of experiencing side effects.
- Weight changes
- Dry mouth or increased salivation
- Joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty urinating
Xanax has a high risk of withdrawal, even when only taken a few times. Because of its short half-life, which is how the lifespan of a substance within your body is measured, your system doesn’t have time to properly adjust to it not being there, leading to withdrawal. Xanax withdrawals can be intense, especially for the first few days, and symptoms can start as soon as a few hours after your last dosage.
Some of the common symptoms of withdrawal include blurry vision, vertigo, memory loss, ringing in your ears, cramps, panic attacks, delusions, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and even hallucinations or seizures.
Cocaine’s Side Effects
Cocaine is a substance made from the coca plant. It primarily comes in powdered form and is usually ingested by snorting or rubbing on your gums, though it’s sometimes injected as well. When initially taken, people experience things such as extreme energy, alertness, paranoia, and increased sensitivity to sight, sound, and touch.
Similarly to Xanax, the effects of cocaine tend to be felt rapidly and dissipate rapidly as well. A cocaine “high” usually lasts around 30 minutes depending on how it’s injected – but some of its effects can last hours. When coming down from a cocaine high, it’s common for people to experience side effects like irritability, mood swings, discomfort, and overall exhaustion.
There are other cocaine side effects you might experience from cocaine use, such as
- Lung conditions
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Kidney failure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Raised blood pressure
- Tremors and muscle twitches
- Loss of smell
With its short time frame in your system, cocaine also has a higher chance of withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal can start as soon as 6 hours after your last dose. The symptoms you can experience during withdrawal include intense cravings, lack of energy, heightened anxiety, increased agitation, and a disrupted sleep schedule.
Finding the Right Treatment for You at Pinnacle Peak Recovery
Polysubstance use is fairly common. With repeated participation in combined use, you could develop a substance use disorder. With the combination of withdrawal symptoms and potential side effects, seeking recovery can help you better mitigate and manage withdrawal and detox so you can start to focus on your healing.
Here at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we offer everything from detox services to medication-assisted treatment, to inpatient and outpatient. Our facilities are staffed by caring, licensed, medical professionals who want to see you reach your recovery goals. When you’re here, you’re always treated like family.
If you have any questions about our treatment programs or anything else we offer, don’t hesitate to give us a call today at 480-787-2409.
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FAQs About Xanax and Cocaine
What are the signs of Xanax and Cocaine addiction?
Some of the signs of Xanax and cocaine addiction are the inability to use one without the other, experiencing cravings when you’re not taking them, noticing behavioral changes when you’re not on them, and physical side effects like headaches, nausea, changes in eating habits and disrupted sleep patterns.
What are the signs of a polysubstance overdose?
Polysubstance overdose can have a variety of symptoms that vary depending on the specific substances in your system. Some common things to look out for include pinpoint pupils, shallow breathing, slurred speech, sudden mood changes, hallucinations, and seizures.