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Cocaine and alcohol together are a ‘deadly combination,’ doctors warn
by Conrad Duncan | the Independent | 1 Oct 2019
Taking cocaine and alcohol together produces a “deadly combination” that can lead to increased violent and impulsive behaviour, doctors have warned.
At least 13 “self-inflicted” deaths have occurred between April 2018 and March 2019 in England among people who took the two substances together, according to an investigation by the BBC.
That figure included two contestants from the reality TV show Love Island, Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, whose deaths received national media attention.
The term “self-inflicted” is used to describe deaths in which a person has injured or harmed themselves, according to the charity Inquest.
In May, an analysis of waste water found that cocaine use in Britain has more than doubled in five years, while a global drug survey suggested people in Britain get drunk more often than in any other country.
Julia Sinclair, a professor of addiction psychiatry at the University of Southampton, has called alcohol and cocaine a “toxic combination”.
“Alcohol is a depressant, it increases the levels of Gaba (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, which is like the brain’s handbrake and makes us feel less anxious,” Ms Sinclair told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire.
“You add cocaine into the mix and you almost have a rocket-fuelled increased impulsivity which gives people the driver to complete an act that they may not otherwise do.”
She added: "People are looking for the ingredient that makes alcohol and cocaine such a toxic combo. It might be cocaethylene - but we don't know and everyone has a different response."
Research in the US has found that the use of alcohol and cocaine together makes the user 16 times more likely to take their own life.
The study in New York City concluded that the risk was “substantially higher than the rate observed with either substance alone.”
In the case of Gradon’s death, the coroner Eric Armstrong warned specifically of the dangers of taking cocaine and alcohol together.
“There's a good deal of concern at the moment because of the consequences of taking alcohol and using cocaine,” Mr Armstrong said.
“The combination, I'm given to understand, is used by those who believe it brings on a so-called high much quicker."
“What they don't appreciate is that it also appears to give rise to violent thoughts. If Sophie's death is to serve any purpose at all, that message should go far and wide.”
In response to the investigation, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care told the BBC that it is investing £25m in suicide prevention and is “committed to reducing drug- and alcohol-related harms”.
Deaths of prominent Love Island contestants linked to cocaine and alcohol use
Dr. Bruno Chaves has performed over 1200 treatments with ibogaine in hospital without a single adverse event. 62% of those treated remain abstinent long term. Dr. Chaves is currently accepting new patients for treatment in hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, contact Dr. Chaves directly : [email protected] -pb