When you consume alcohol, it directly enters the blood stream and produces its multiple side effects. Some of its short term effects include slurring of speech, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, distorted vision, impaired judgment and decreased co-ordination. It acts as a depressor of the central nervous system and can cause breathing difficulties, black-outs, drowsiness and even unconsciousness. The reflexes are depressed and so the risk of aspiration increases. The person may develop hypothermia, hypoglycemia or even convulsions.
Severe intoxication may lead to the development of lactic acidosis, ketoacidosis and even sudden acute renal shutdown. The person may suddenly die after an alcohol binge because of respiratory and circulatory depression or because of aspiration of gastric contents.
Heroin is an illegal drug which is highly addictive in nature. As it is usually sold by drug peddlers, one can never be sure of its purity or true potency. Therefore, it becomes all the more dangerous. It rapidly reaches the brain after crossing the blood brain barrier. There it is converted into morphine and binds with the natural opiate receptors present there. It then suppresses the neurotransmission and depresses the central nervous system. Heroin causes clouding of the mental functions and can be used as a potent painkiller. But it also depresses the functioning of the heart and the respiratory system. Effects of heroin abuse include a decreased heart rate, slow respiratory rate, fall in blood pressure, a state of confusion, nausea, vomiting and generalized weakness of the body.
They together can cause a rapid fall in blood pressure, a sudden decrease in the heart rate (at times, the heart may completely stop), and a very slow breathing rate. Both of them can depress the functioning of the central nervous system to such an extent that the person can slip into coma or may even die suddenly. Moreover, as the blood pressure falls rapidly, the blood supply to the brain may be compromised. This can lead to brain damage which, in turn, may cause permanent physical or cognitive deformity.
A simultaneous abuse of heroin and alcohol can initially lead to a feeling of extreme well- being, lightheadedness and relaxation. The person becomes numb and cannot perceive any sensations. But due to the combined additive effect of alcohol and heroin in depressing the central nervous system, the person may soon become drowsy or slip into unconsciousness. The breathing becomes labored, heart rate drops and becomes irregular, there are tremors, difficulty in coordination, concentration and perception, and there may be sudden death.
Alcohol and heroin are two of the most commonly abused substances. According to latest statistics, around twelve to fourteen million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse. Similarly, there are 1.2 million people in the US who have experimented with heroin and 200,000 people who can be classified as heroin addicts.
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