More and more often, patients who seek treatment for substance abuse cite more than one drug as their substance of choice. In the past, alcohol was the primary drug of abuse among addicted patients, but today the combination of types of substances vary significantly by region. However, when multiple drugs of abuse are cited, alcohol is very often one of them.
Ketamine, on the other hand, is relatively new to the drug scene. Though it has long been used and abused in the United States, its popularity has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Damaging to physical and mental health alone, when coupled with alcohol its dangerous effects increase exponentially – in addition to all the acute medical emergencies, including overdose, that can afflict the user while under the influence.
If your loved one is using ketamine and alcohol, taking action now can help save his or her life.
Rising Trend: Mixing Substances of Abuse
The mixing of two or more illicit substances is becoming increasingly common, and more often than not, alcohol is one of the components in that mix. When people use drugs recreationally, alcohol is almost always available. Many people drink and then use their drug of choice afterward, continuing to drink while under the influence of the other drug. Some even use alcohol to help them come down if the other drug is a stimulant drug.
Ketamine is most often used at raves and parties. Young adults and teens frequently listen to music with beats designed to enhance the high they experience on the drug. Drinking alcohol in addition to using ketamine is commonplace at these events. Unfortunately, the combination of the two drugs can lead to poor decisions that are harmful to mental and physical health as well as a host of medical issues.
Risks of Combining Alcohol with Ketamine
One study published in the journal Human & Experimental Toxicology found that the long-term use of ketamine and alcohol was so toxic that significant liver damage was common among participants. Liver problems included:
- Fatty degeneration of liver cells
- Negative cell changes
- Damaging levels of certain isozymes (e.g., increased liver glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase)
All of these issues were seen with long-term ketamine use and were drastically increased when alcohol use was a factor as well.
Additionally, a study published in the journal Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry found that long-term ketamine and alcohol use increased the chances of developing issues including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Kidney dysfunction
- Fibrosis of the bladder
- Cardiac problems
Though ketamine alone can cause all of these issues, the problems are worsened when alcohol is used in combination with the drug.
Treatment for Co-occurring Addictions
When addressing addictions to multiple drugs of abuse, comprehensive care is essential. Undergoing treatment that offers assistance for all the different effects of both drugs helps to stabilize the patient more quickly as well as provide them with the coping skills necessary to avoid relapse on both substances. Dual diagnosis rehab programs are adept at meeting your loved one where he lives in terms of his relationship with his status as a substance user and help him to move forward at a comfortable pace as he makes progress in recovery.
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