Here are five heroin polydrug combinations that, when taken together, can end life quickly and without mercy.
Heroin And Alcohol
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance on the planet, legal for adults to drink almost everywhere. Whereas cigarettes have gone out of vogue in many cultures, alcohol rides strong.
Combined with heroin, however, alcohol can easily kill. Both alcohol and heroin slow down bodily functions, but the effects are very different. Alcohol leads to a loss of coordination, judgment, and reaction time.
Heroin, by contrast, causes the brain to release a rush of the reward hormone dopamine, leading to feelings of euphoria, reduction of physical pain, and a sense of wellbeing. In this state, bodily systems like the respiratory or cardiovascular system slow down.
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Combining these two substances slows things down to dangerous levels. Bodily systems could slow down so much that the person could slip into a coma, respiratory failure, or cardiac arrest.
Heroin And Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are almost as socially acceptable as alcohol. An epidemic of anxiety has swept the culture, especially among younger generations.
Benzodiazepines represent some of the most common anti-anxiety medications on the market, including:
People who mix heroin with benzodiazepines like Xanax face the same effect as people who mix heroin with alcohol—coma, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, and other deadly organ shutdowns.
“Speedballs” — Heroin and Cocaine
The poisonous combination of cocaine and heroin took the life of actor River Phoenix at age 23. The drugs may be blended into a cocktail called a “speedball” and injected from one syringe.
Contrary to alcohol or benzodiazepines, cocaine is a stimulant, the opposite of a depressant. Common side effects include agitation, panic, paranoia, and restlessness. Crack is a form of cocaine, which is also dangerous to mix with heroin.
Both drugs have one thing in common, however—the dopamine high. Moreover, cocaine blocks the reabsorption of dopamine by the brain, meaning the dopamine released by the heroin stays active longer. As such, speedballs are even more addictive than their component drugs.
Heroin And Amphetamines
Amphetamines are stimulants like cocaine and form the basis of many prescription medications, including diet pills and drugs prescribed to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Amphetamines cause a rush of dopamine. As you might expect, this makes them highly addictive. Heroin can cancel out the stimulant effect in a manner similar to a speedball. Also like a speedball, this can cause people to ingest a fatal dose of either drug without knowing it.
Heroin And Other Opioids
Using heroin with other opioids compound the organ shutdown effect, a deadly outcome. Worse, some people using heroin may be taking more than one opioid without knowing it. Much street heroin is now cut with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid even more powerful than heroin.
Drug dealers cut product with fentanyl because fentanyl is dirt-cheap. They can increase the potency of their product at a discount, increasing their profit margin at the peril of buyers’ lives.
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- Drug Policy Alliance — What happens if you mix heroin with alcohol or other drugs?
- NBC News — Why would anyone cut heroin with fentanyl? It's cheap, these researchers say
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — Drug Interactions With New Synthetic Opioids
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — Powerful Behavioral Interactions Between Methamphetamine and Morphine