When a person consumes substances like alcohol or drugs, it can become very harmful to the body. If they stay in the system for too long, the effects are more serious. Like a slow-growing poison, these chemicals may seem harmless at first, but if the body fails to clear them out quickly, they can cause serious physical injury, that may even lead to death.
The liver is responsible for eliminating waste chemicals from the bloodstream. This organ processes them before they are excreted from the body through sweat or urine. But like any organ, the liver is exhaustible. It can get worn out by an unhealthy lifestyle or by an overwhelming presence of toxic chemicals. If the metabolic process is disrupted, the toxins fester and eventually spread throughout the body.
But what if the liver ends up creating the harmful substance itself?
The Production of Cocaethylene
One of the most harmful chemicals produced from substance consumption is cocaethylene. Cocaethylene, also known as ethylbenzoylecgonine, is produced when alcohol and cocaine are consumed simultaneously.
According to the Journal of Medical Toxicology, this unique substance is created as alcohol and cocaine are metabolized in the liver. Alcohol disrupts the metabolism of cocaine so instead of being filtered out of the body, about 20 percent of the drug remains. After about two hours, the remaining alcohol and cocaine will cause a chemical reaction in the liver. This creates the toxin known as cocaethylene which has a myriad of negative effects on the body.
When the liver senses this harmful substance, it attempts to flush it out like any foreign chemical. But the alcohol in the person’s system slows down the liver’s metabolic process. The cocaethylene remains unfiltered. Eventually, small amounts of the chemical will enter the bloodstream. Once this happens, it will start traveling all over the body, causing significant damage to the person’s muscles, organs, and bodily functions.
Effects of Cocaethylene
Cocaethylene is more potent than the alcohol and cocaine on their own. Combined together, the body will need medical attention as soon as possible.
The effects are more serious for individuals who take alcohol and cocaine on a regular basis. However, some of these effects, even the ones that lead to death, can happen to anyone even if they’ve just taken the two substances for the first time.
Some of the effects of the production of cocaethylene include:
Cocaethylene has a direct impact on the liver because this part of the body is responsible for cleaning up waste in the system. If it is unable to do this because of the overwhelming harmful chemicals in the body, it can result in serious liver damage. This makes it even more difficult to remove the toxins and stop them from causing injury in other parts of the body.
Cocaethylene is more toxic than cocaine by about 30 percent. It can even stay in the body three times longer than cocaine. While cocaine alone already poses a threat to one’s physical health, the presence of cocaethylene multiplies these harmful symptoms to a significant degree. This results in an increase of the body’s toxicity levels.
Increased risk of cardiovascular issues
The chemical also increases a person’s blood pressure and heart rate. It disrupts the process of pumping blood in the heart muscles, increasing the risk of cardiovascular damage.
Increased risk for stroke
Because the chemical directly affects the bloodstream, tissues, and organs of the body, the chances of having a stroke is significantly heightened. The brain is especially vulnerable to these substances. Once the brain is affected, it could cause someone to lose consciousness or become comatose.
Higher risk of death
Any of the symptoms caused by cocaethylene could lead to an abuser’s death. Heart attacks, strokes, and breathing problems are some of the few health issues that may become fatal.
Cocaethylene disrupts the natural release of dopamine. This causes users of alcohol and cocaine to take increased doses to achieve their desired level of “high.” They may end up abusing the substances and developing unhealthy habits and addictions.
Because cocaethylene stays in the body longer than alcohol and cocaine, the negative symptoms will take longer to end. Extensive treatment will be required in more serious life-threatening situations.
Cocaethylene in one’s system can result in increased alcohol consumption. Heavy drinkers develop a tolerance to the substance which requires more alcohol intake to feel its effects. This results in binge drinking behavior that could lead to poor judgement, impulsive behavior, alcohol dependence, alcohol poisoning, and organ damage.
Happy hormones in the brain like dopamine and serotonin can fluctuate because of the cocaethylene. Abusers may act impulsively in ways that could endanger themselves or the people around them. Some may even engage in violent and aggressive behavior like shouting inappropriately, getting into fist-fights, or breaking private property.
Cocaethylene, as well as the substances involved in its production, is very addictive. This can result in dependency and other psychological issues that require extensive treatment and intervention methods.
Abusers may experience a number of mental problems such as:
Alcohol and cocaine each have their own set of negative effects on a person’s psychological state, but together the symptoms become increasingly dangerous and may lead to harmful behavior not just to the person suffering from the addiction but also to the people around them.
It may prove to be very difficult to break out from alcohol and cocaine addiction. People suffering from it may face a series of challenges towards sobriety. These include withdrawal symptoms, the possibility of relapsing, and persistent feelings of shame and guilt.
Cocaethylene can have prolonged negative effects on a person’s mind and body that may cause them to give up hope on overcoming the addiction. But there is always a chance for recovery.
There are numerous treatments available that can help individuals begin their journey to sobriety. Family members and friends of people suffering from addiction must also provide care and support. They must also encourage their loved ones to seek better alternatives to alcohol and cocaine and to seek help before it’s too late. With enough time and effort, these individuals can move onward towards a much better future.