Sex, Drugs, and Booze: A Deadly Combination for Many

Teen girls drinking alcohol

A study of over 26,000 participants, researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that 43% of current drinkers take medications that could interact with alcohol, and 78% of those individuals were 65 or older [1].

Interactions Between Drugs and Alcohol

Drugs such as antihistamines, when combined with alcohol, can increase drowsiness and can impact your functioning and ability to drive. When booze is mixed with acetaminophen, it can cause severe kidney and liver damage.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NASD), can cause severe stomach bleeding if taken after consuming 3 or more drinks in one day.

A study from Boston University found that upper gastrointestinal bleeding was higher among both heavy drinkers and regular users of ibuprofen or aspirin [1]. When combining alcohol with drugs for anxiety and panic, it can result in a significant increase in the disorder symptoms.

Medications used to treat depressive disorders like MAO inhibitors and alcohol combined can result in increased blood pressure. Prescriptions for pain management, when combined with substances, can result in coma or death.

Increased Sexual Behavior When Under the Influence of Substances

When under the influence of substances, alcohol, medication, or a combination can lead to high-risk sexual behaviors. For example, some individuals may trade sexual acts for drugs or money, sexual acts without protections, or intercourse with multiple partners.

Woman walking path

Various substances will bring forth various sexual behaviors or urges, and one study looked at different substances and their effects [2].

The researchers found that cocaine and methamphetamine users were more often to associate drug use with sex, and reported higher pleasure rates while under the influence, compared to those who used alcohol and opiates.

In a study that looked at men in residential treatment and their sexual behaviors under the influence, 73.3% reported engaging in intercourse under the influence of substances during the 90 days prior to the study.

This percentage includes partners who were also under the influence of drugs or alcohol [2].

The study also includes sex with a casual partner and less protection use.

Results from this study also found that participants stated sexual enhancements when combining sex and drugs.

When combining sex and substances, it can result in high-risk sexual behaviors, and possibly STDs or even HIV.

Consequences of Blending

When blending different substances and alcohol, it can lead to deadly consequences. Impaired judgment and delayed responses while driving can result in accidents and death. Mixing drugs can also result in physical altercations and fights.

According to the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre stated that those solely on marijuana might feel dizzy, queasy and weak and those on alcohol may feel nauseated and vomit.

When marijuana and alcohol are combined, it can result in vomiting and suffocation on their vomit if the person passes out or becomes unconscious [3]. Over the counter medications when mixed with alcohol and other substances can slow breathing and heart rate.

When Cocaine and alcohol are mixed, it creates molecule level changes in the brain and body and creates cocaethylene. This chemical can do damage to the liver on a cellular level, gastrointestinal distress and digestion difficulties. It breaks down the heart muscle which can lead to heart attacks.

Man in the woods

Sleep medications combined with alcohol can result in decreased breathing, lower blood pressure, and a drop in heart rate. The combination can also decrease the firing rates of neurons in the brainstem which controls life-sustaining functions [4].

This combination of drugs and alcohol is even higher among teens in the U.S. More than 29% of sexually active 15-24 year-olds reported they have engaged in more sexual behaviors than intended while drinking or using drugs. 74% state that their peers engage in unprotected sex while under the influence of substances, according to a recent study [5].

To summarize, combining drugs, substances, and sex can lead to potentially dangerous physical and health risks for many. Often when mixing substances, it can lead to coma and even death, high-risk contractible diseases, as well as motor vehicle accidents.

Be aware to what prescription and over the counter medications you are taking and its interaction effects with alcohol and drugs. Even with reported increased pleasure levels of drug interactions and sexual behaviors, it is not recommended due to a higher risk of sexual violence and sexually transmitted diseases.

Engaging in alcohol treatment, substance treatment, and sexual addiction treatment can be a good start to those who feel that they are unable to stop using a combination of substances.

Residential treatment, partial hospitalization, day treatment, and transitional housing are all options for both teens and adults. There are various programs which offer treatment for more than one addiction and can help you understand the link to your addiction and underlying causes.

Treatment also typically recommends a physical with complete blood workup to see if there is internal body damage that also needs attention.

Being addicted to multiple combinations of substances and behaviors is not a life sentence. It can be treated with support, counseling, and medical care. Working with a support team can help you reclaim your life.

Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.
Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is a Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.


[1]: Mixing Alcohol With Medication Can Have Deadly Consequences. (2015, December 03). Retrieved July 02, 2017, from
[2] Calsyn, D. A., Cousins, S. J., Hatch-Maillette, M. A., Forcehimes, A., Mandler, R., Doyle, S. R., & Woody, G. (2010). Sex Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol: Common for Men in Substance Abuse Treatment and Associated with High Risk Sexual Behavior. Retrieved July 02, 2017, from
[3] Dangerous Drug Combinations. (n.d.). Retrieved July 02, 2017, from
[4] Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol: Effects and Dangers. (n.d.). Retrieved July 02, 2017, from
[5] Malick, A. (1970, February 07). Mixing Sex and Alcohol Puts Many Teens at Risk. Retrieved July 02, 2017, from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on May 16, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 16, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.