Cocaethylene: Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 8, 2023

Table of Contents

Cocaethylene is a substance created in the body when cocaine and alcohol are used at the same time. Unfortunately, this substance caused by mixing cocaine and alcohol can prove to be dangerous and even deadly. 

Oftentimes when people use drugs, they are polysubstance users, meaning that they use multiple substances at the same time. One of the more popular, and dangerous, combinations that occur is the mixing of cocaine and alcohol. There are a number of different risks and life-threatening symptoms that can occur from the concurrent use of cocaine and alcohol, not to mention the fact that it creates a third-party substance in the body known as cocaethylene. 

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Despite the dangerous problems associated with these two substances, there are drug and alcohol treatment centers in Orange County to help people overcome and conquer these addiction issues. If you or someone you know is struggling, call our addiction hotline today.

Before we dive into what cocaethylene actually is, let’s first understand what these two substances do to the body on their own when mixing cocaine with alcohol.

Effects of Cocaine and Alcohol Alone

While cocaethylene (the substance formed by mixing cocaine and alcohol) can have serious and detrimental effects on the body and brain of drug and alcohol users. It is important to understand how each of these substances interact with the body on their own. 

Effects of Alcohol

Being a legal substance, ethanol alcohol is one of the most used drugs in the country. Unfortunately, it also has a number of dangerous problems associated with its use. Alcohol use and binge drinking affect nearly every organ in the body, the central nervous system, and can take a serious toll on your body. A few of the common issues that excessive drinking can lead to include:

  • Mood disruptions
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Arrhythmias (or irregular heartbeat)
  • Stroke
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Increased risk of cancer

Alcohol addiction leads to both short-term and long-term effects that can be detrimental for an individual’s health These are just a few of the dangerous symptoms associated with excessive alcohol use. Now let’s take a look at the problems associated with cocaine abuse.

Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is a drug usually taken intranasally that produces an intense high for about 15 to 30 minutes. This dopamine high keeps users coming back for more – leading to a dangerous cycle of cocaine use and abuse. This continued use can lead to numerous physical and mental health problems, including:

  • Irritability
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Strokes
  • Comas
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Heart attacks

Now that we understand a little more about what these two substances do individually, let’s better understand what happens when you mix them.

a man who learned the effects of cocaethylene

Effects of Cocaine and Alcohol Mixed

Combining alcohol and cocaine is popular among drug users, likely for the combination of the euphoric high from cocaine and the depressant effects that alcohol brings. Some studies even suggest that cocaine users will drink alcohol concurrently to reduce the anxieties and discomfort that comes with cocaine addiction and withdrawal. While cocaine and alcohol are dangerous on their own, the side effects only become more severe when the two are combined.

A few of the major issues associated with mixing the two drugs include:

  • Increased impulsiveness
  • Heightened cardiovascular problems
  • Increased alcohol consumption and cocaine usage
  • Increased toxicity
  • Sudden death

All of these issues are associated with the production of cocaethylene in the body. Cocaethylene is a unique substance that is produced in the body when mixing alcohol and cocaine. 

There are a number of problems and dangers associated with cocaine and alcohol use, when the substances are mixed, it amplifies the symptoms of each.

Let’s take a closer look at cocaethylene.

What is Cocaethylene?

Cocaethylene is a psychoactive substance that is produced in the body when cocaine and alcohol are used concurrently. Cocaethylene is an incredibly dangerous substance in the body and can lead to a number of life-threatening problems including seizures, liver damage, and problems with immune functioning. This is why mixing alcohol and cocaine is considered dangerous.

The presence of cocaethylene in the body carries an 18- to 25-fold increase over cocaine alone for immediate death. The cocaethylene half life is three to five times longer than cocaine alone.

Cocaethylene is stronger than both alcohol and cocaine alone and leads to more exacerbated and deepened effects that these two substances already bring – including heightened cardiovascular dangers and, as we’ve mentioned previously, an increased risk of death through cocaethylene toxicity.

What is Cocaethelyne Half Life?

The “half life” of a drug means the time required for your body to process half of the amount of the drug that has been consumed.

Cocaethelyne’s half life is about 2-3 hours, which is much longer than cocaine’s half life, but shorter than alcohol’s half life. This is a good way to judge how long the substance will make it’s way out of your sey

Polysubstance Abuse

Cocaine and alcohol use is one of the most popular forms of polysubstance abuse, the use of two or more substances at the same time. The use of alcohol specifically is a substance that is commonly used with nearly all other forms of drugs.

Along with cocaine and alcohol, many individuals will concurrently use alcohol with prescription medications like oxycodone, Xanax, and other opioids and benzodiazepines. As you probably guessed, the concurrent use of these types of substances lead to numerous dangerous and negative effects that can result in long-term health issues and death and cause major drug use and addiction problems.

This increased substance abuse can lead users down a dangerous path of continued addiction and cause alcohol use disorder and other forms of substance use disorder.

an image of a man looking out a a body of water to represent cocaethelyne: mixing cocaine and alcohol

Signs of Alcohol and Cocaine Abuse

If you are worried that a loved one may be struggling with a cocaine or alcohol addiction, there are many different signs that you can look for. A lot of the signs of coke (street name for cocaine) and alcohol abuse are similar to other types of addiction. 

Some of the most common signs and signals that someone is abusing these include:

  • Decreased interest in hobbies and activities
  • Having different sleeping habits
  • Problems with friends or family members
  • Legal trouble
  • Financial problems
  • Engaging in secretive behaviors
  • Angry outbursts

Along with these behavioral changes, there are some physical health signs that you may notice too, including:

  • Runny nose and sniffling
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Poor hygiene
  • Slurred speech

Now let’s take look at how you can go about finding treatment for these addiction issues.

Come to Renaissance Recovery for treatment from cocaine and alcohol

Treatment for Cocaine and Alcohol

Cocaine and alcohol is a dangerous combination that can lead to major damage to mental health and can lead to life-threatening physical health problems. Despite the problems associated with cocaine and alcohol and the addictive nature of both drugs, there are treatment options available to help those who are struggling.

Both cocaine and alcohol addiction treatment centers are in place to help those who are dealing with major addiction issues. 

Renaissance Recovery is an outpatient drug abuse and alcohol rehab in California that offers numerous forms of group and individual therapies to help clients learn more about their personal addiction issues and develop strategies to overcome them.

If you or a loved one are dealing with some form of alcohol or drug addiction, Renaissance is here to help you. Please reach out to our admissions team to learn more about treatment options available to you, find a treatment provider, and how going to an alcohol and drug intensive outpatient program can help you conquer addiction and achieve long-term sobriety. Call today at 866.330.9449



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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