Almost every drug available over the counter or through a prescription poses some kind of risk of a dangerous or deadly interaction with other drugs. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and blood thinning medications can be a deadly combination. Additionally, individual patients face unique risks from some drug interactions based on sex, individual anatomy, and preexisting medical conditions. In the first part of our dangerous and deadly drug combination series we looked at deadly drug combinations for men*. Continue reading to learn more about the dangerous drug combinations for women.
Dangerous Drug Combinations For Women
Substance abuse research from various sources indicates that women who struggle with substance abuse often contend with hormonal imbalance, menstrual cycle problems, fertility issues, and a host of other medical complications. No two women are alike and some may experience adverse symptoms of some conditions more acutely than others. Additionally, some women may have natural sensitivities to certain medications, predisposing them to a higher risk of dangerous drug interactions.
Women and men display different habits when it comes to substance abuse, but all women should know the risks of combining certain substances.
As a general rule it is extremely dangerous to take any kind of medication or illicit drug with alcohol. For example, opioids with alcohol can cause fatal respiratory depression. The individual falls asleep and stops breathing. Women generally have lower physical alcohol tolerance levels than men, and despite outliers who may be able to seemingly handle alcohol better than their peers still face a severe risk of fatal interaction if they imbibe alcohol while taking certain other drugs.
- Alcohol with any type of sedative is extremely dangerous. Alcohol itself acts as a sedative, slowing some bodily functions and impeding brain function. An individual could easily lose track of how much she drinks and then take a sedative, which results in respiratory suppression, severe confusion, mood changes, and even mania or delusions that could lead to personal injuries.
- Alcohol and benzodiazepine medications like Xanax is another dangerous mix. Combining these substances can cause blackouts, or periods of lost memory. If a woman forgets how much she drank and then consumes more drugs and/or alcohol, this can cause respiratory failure and liver damage.
- Ecstasy is a very popular drug in the club scene, where designer drugs and hallucinogens remain popular. Unfortunately, this trend often leads to women combining ecstasy with alcohol, creating a false sense of sobriety that often leads to an affected individual drinking much more than she should. This can cause episodes of aggression, kidney and liver damage, and blackout periods that may expose a woman to dangerous circumstances.
- Alcohol and cocaine can be a very deadly combination with even a single use. It is not uncommon for a person to die very quickly after consuming cocaine with alcohol. Each of these substances damages the liver and combining them can cause catastrophic liver failure in a very short timespan.
Ultimately, combining alcohol with any other drug generally increases the dangers both substances present. Men and women typically engage in substance abuse at relatively similar rates, but women display some key differences in general drug habits that may inform specific risks facing women who take drugs in the U.S.
Other Drug Combinations
Combining any drugs is extremely dangerous. Alcohol may pose unique risks when it comes to acute harm like overdosing, blackouts, and respiratory failure, but other drug combinations can cause severe reactions, too.
- “Designer” drugs like Grey Death contain uncertain amounts of different harmful substances. Women who experiment with combination drugs, especially those including opioids, face an extreme risk of overdose and death.
- Combining stimulants and depressants can cause the individual to feel the positive effects of both substances at the same time with apparently no drawback, for a time. Eventually the individual will feel the side effects and negative symptoms of “crashing” from both substances. Additionally, these combinations are extremely hard on the heart, potentially leading to acute heart failure.
- Combining different types of opioids is dangerous for anyone, but women face a higher risk of suffering an overdose with smaller doses.
Common Drug-Related Issues For Women
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports over 19.5 million adult women in the U.S. have used drugs in the past year.** Substance abuse research indicates that women respond to drugs differently than men in many ways:
- Women usually use smaller doses of illicit drugs compared to men but develop addictions in less time than men.
- Drug rehab centers often report women tend to experience drug cravings more acutely than men and relapse after rehab more frequently.
- Female sex hormones can cause some women to experience the effects of some drugs differently than men.
- Women who use drugs often experience structural changes in their blood vessels, hearts, and brains, and these changes tend to happen differently than how they occur in men.
- Women generally face higher risks of needing emergency room treatment and dying from overdoses than men.
In addition to these unique risks, women face different possible long-term effects from substance abuse than men. The longer a substance abuse problem continues, the more likely an individual is to engage in high-risk behaviors like combining drugs. A comprehensive substance abuse treatment program can help women in this situation overcome their circumstances and lead healthier lives.
Overcoming Substance Abuse
Countless addiction treatment centers all over the country offer a wide range of substance abuse treatment services, from medically assisted detox programs to inpatient drug rehab and continuing care. Any woman struggling with substance abuse should reach out for help as soon as possible, but acknowledging a drug problem is incredibly difficult for many people. It may require the individual’s friends and family to intervene and encourage their struggling loved one to enter treatment.