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Alcohol And Psychedelics: A Dangerous Combination

alcohol and hallucinogens mix

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People consume alcohol and hallucinogens together to heighten the level of euphoria gotten from otherwise taking only one drug. This abuse entails taking alcohol and ketamine as well as other hallucinogens like mushrooms, LSD, marijuana, salvia, and ayahuasca.

However, there are numerous dangers of drugs and alcohol being consumed together. This is because taking alcohol with hallucinogens negatively affects a person’s mental and physical health. Prolonged consumption of alcohol and psychedelics can also lead to addiction to both of them.

Read on to find out more about what combining hallucinogens with alcoholic drinks does to the body and how to treat the resulting addiction.

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How A Combination Of Hallucinogens And Drinking Affects Health

According to The SAGE Handbook of Drug & Alcohol Studies: Biological Approaches, this form of polysubstance use is done so as to increase the recreational effects of both hallucinogens and alcoholic drinks.

However, continuous and concurrent abuse of different drugs like opioid medication and alcohol can result in overdoses that gravely affect health.

Here are the different hallucinogens that people mix with alcohol and how they affect health.

LSD and alcohol

People usually take the psychedelic drug LSD with alcoholic drinks to mitigate the effects of alcohol. This means that larger amounts of alcoholic drinks will be consumed before the signs of intoxication can be felt.

Consequently, mixing this stimulant drug and alcohol might result in some bad effects on health. These are usually the exacerbated effects of individual drugs.

They include:

  • Extreme visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • An increased feeling of paranoia
  • Detachment from the present (losing sense of time)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Increased aggression and hostility
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors

Shrooms and alcohol

Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin which imparts psychedelic effects to anyone who ingests them. Some people try to augment the pleasant euphoric and hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin by mixing shrooms and alcohol.

However, the combination of alcohol and mushrooms can reduce the alcoholic effects in the body. This makes a person drink copious amounts before feeling drunk.

The combination of mixing mushrooms and alcohol brings about negative effects like:

  • Nausea
  • Stretching the heart muscle due to the large alcoholic content in the body
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Depression due to drinking towards the end of the mushroom trip
  • Increased feelings of paranoia
  • Vivid and frightening hallucinations
  • Loss of bodily control
  • Increased weakness of the muscles
  • Heightened dizziness and drowsiness
  • Loss of mental concentration
  • Delusions

man holding shrooms

Ketamine and alcohol

Ketamine is a dissociative drug that is utilized for anesthesia. The drug is also a hallucinogenic, making it a target for drug abusers.

Like alcohol, ketamine inhibits the excitatory neurotransmitters.

People, therefore, consume a ketamine alcohol mixture to heighten the effects of both of the drugs. However, this combination can result in some serious health effects.

The effects include:

  • Significant impairment of motor function and coordination
  • Significant reduction in cognitive abilities
  • Increased hallucinations
  • Dissociative experience
  • Aggressiveness and hostility
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Strain on vital organs like the liver and kidneys
  • Physical dependence and addiction due to continued use

Once a person is dependent on this concoction, they can experience significant symptoms of ketamine alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Salvia and alcohol

Salvia contains the hallucinogenic compound salvinorin A. Taking it alongside alcoholic drinks augments the psychedelic effects.

However, it is not recommended to take the two together because of the serious resultant health consequences. These effects include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Heightened paranoia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Detachment from reality
  • Impaired motor functions and coordination
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech

Marijuana and alcohol

Alcoholic drinks and weed are among some of the most commonly abused drugs. It is also a common occurrence for them to be abused concurrently. Consuming marijuana and alcohol together can be dangerous to health because liquor increases the absorption of the active hallucinogen in weed.

Here are the negative effects of taking both drugs together:

Ayahuasca and alcohol

Ayahuasca is a plant-based tea brew that contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The tea containing this hallucinogen is drunk to elicit euphoria and psychedelic effects. Consuming liquor with ayahuasca increases the effects of DMT on the body.

These effects are:

  • Increased hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Significant changes in mood
  • Increased anxiety
  • Heightened delusions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

ayahuasca brew

How Widespread The Consumption Is

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there were close to 140 million alcohol drinkers in the United States in 2018. Of these, 48 percent were binge drinkers while 1 in 8 users were heavy drinkers.

In general, 2 percent of the population of the United States in 2018 used hallucinogens like LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, salvia, ketamine and DMT (ayahuasca). This percentage was higher than that in 2015 and 2016 but similar to the figures for 2017.

Per data from the same survey, 43.5 million people used marijuana, comprising 15.9 percent of the United States population.

According to a research article published in Clinical Pediatrics, 26 percent of the study participants admitted to using hallucinogenic mushrooms alongside alcohol.

95 percent of people who use Ecstasy also drink alcoholic beverages according to a national survey.

Bad Trip From Alcohol And Hallucinogen Combination

According to Acute Drug Abuse Emergencies: A Treatment Manual, a bad trip is an acute adverse reaction resulting from ingesting hallucinogens.

Since consuming alcohol and a hallucinogen at the same time, can exacerbate the effects of the psychedelic, a bad trip might occur. For example, consuming alcohol and shrooms is likely to cause a bad trip.

The characteristics of a bad trip include:

  • Extreme confusion
  • Loss of control
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Severe anxiety
  • Intense depression
  • Terrifying hallucinations
Ingesting a shrooms and alcohol mix might, therefore, cause a bad trip comprising these symptoms and a nightmarish experience.

Serotonin Syndrome As A Result Of The Mix

When ingested, hallucinogens stimulate the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This increased presence of the neurotransmitter results in the effects of psychedelics.

However, alcoholic drinks can sometimes increase the effect of hallucinogens. This means that it promotes serotonin hyperactivity in the body. The collective symptoms of this hyperactivity are known as serotonin syndrome.

The symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Rigidity in the muscles
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • High fever
  • Muscle twitching
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma

woman with serotonin syndrome

How Is Alcohol And Hallucinogens Addiction Treated?

Alcohol chemically reacts with many drugs causing many detrimental health effects. That’s why mixing alcohol and sleeping pills is a bad idea. It is a known addictive substance while hallucinogens can make someone become dependant on the psychedelic effect. If a person continually takes alcoholic drinks and hallucinogens, they increase the chances of becoming addicted and dependant on the mix.

To treat addiction, the patient needs to get in touch with medical professionals. Doctors can draw up a detoxification plan so that the patient can get rid of the drugs from the body.

After the detoxification period, a patient still needs support so that there is no relapse. This support can be in the form of:

  • Counseling
  • Support groups
  • Rehabilitation therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and contingency management therapy
  • Medications to manage hallucinations that are persisting from using the hallucinogen

If someone experiences the symptoms of consuming alcoholic drinks and hallucinogens together, it is advisable to seek professional medical treatment for substance abuse. However, if addiction starts to set in, it is recommended to check into a rehabilitation center for proper help.

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Sources
  1. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); Office of the Surgeon General (US). Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016 Nov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424847/table/appd.t7/?report=objectonly
  2. Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-body
  3. 2018 NSDUH Annual National Report. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-annual-national-report
  4. Juan F. López-Giménez, Javier González-Maeso. Hallucinogens and Serotonin 5-HT2A Receptor-Mediated Signaling Pathways. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2018; 36: 45–73. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756147/#S6title
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.

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