We often mix drugs (sometimes called ‘poly-drug use’) without realising – you might have a beer while smoking a joint, or you might drop an E, sniff poppers on the dance floor, then use Viagra later on in the night. You might think you’re taking one drug when you’re in fact taking several because one substance can be cut with another. Ecstasy pills are especially likely to contain other substances, like MDMA, caffeine, ephedrine, speed, codeine, or ketamine.
No matter how experienced you are, you can never be totally sure of the effect a drug or a mixture of chems will have on you. Street drugs aren’t made using a standard recipe or ingredients, so their strength can be unpredictable. If you’re going to use drugs, try to use less and only one drug at one time. This should make drug related problems less likely.
When drugs are mixed, the effects may increase dramatically or they may produce different and unpredictable reactions. Taking more than one drug puts extra stress on the body, especially the heart, brain, and liver. Sometimes these ‘drug cocktails’ can result in an overdose or death. The ‘crash’ or comedown can be nastier too.
Taking two drugs that have the same effect increases the risks of a dangerous reaction, for example, two depressants can make you unconscious, two stimulants can put real pressure on your heart or circulation. But your body also gets stressed if you take drugs that have opposite effects – one drug is telling it to slow down, the other is making it speed up.
Drugs tend to be grouped according to the effect they have on the body. It’s important to understand which category drugs are because when you mix them, taking two of the same kind can be especially risky.
These slow down your body’s functions and make you feel more relaxed -- your heart and breathing will slow down and you might feel more sleepy.
Taking depressants together risks slowing down your body functions, such as breathing and brain function, to a dangerous, life threatening level. You can end up knocked out or dead. Alcohol and GHB is a particularly risky combination.
These speed up your body’s functions. You will feel more alert, your heart will beat faster, your blood pressure will go up, you might feel jumpy, grind your teeth and afterwards feel ‘down’.
The more stimulants you take, the greater the pressure on your heart and circulation, which puts you at risk of a heart attack or stroke. Cocaine and amphetamines used together really put your heart under stress.
This article was last reviewed on: 28/10/11
Date due for next review: 28/10/13