Cocaethylene Dangers and Effects: Understanding The Compound of Cocaine & Alcohol

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Through the movies and glamourization of Hollywood most are aware of cocaine. It is a party drug made famous in the 1980s. However, it still has a stronghold on users of today and is particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol.

Combining cocaine and alcohol leads to the creation of a substance in your liver, a cocaine derivative, known as cocaethylene. The combination metabolization of the cocaine and alcohol in your own liver lead to this deadly substance being created. Here we learn more about cocaethylene, it’s effects, and the abuse factors associated with it.

What Is Cocaethylene?

Cocaethylene, or cocaethylene toxicity, is a psychoactive substance made as a result of taking both cocaine and alcohol together. While it’s similar in makeup to cocaine, this hybrid offers more risk to the body with a half-life up to five times that of cocaine.

The extended half-life of cocaethylene means it takes five times as long for your body to process out the substance and it’s affecting your insides five times longer than each of its separate parts. This makes it nearly impossible to tell when you will be sober again or how long you are being affected by the combination.

How Is Cocaethylene Created?

While the reaction is on the rare side, it is certainly the most deadly result of combining cocaine and alcohol. You run the risk of creating cocaethylene anytime the two are ingested together since the compound is created inside your own liver.

Both the cocaine and alcohol travel through your bloodstream and into your liver to be processed out. During the processing, if the correct chemical reaction occurs between the two substances, the cocaethylene is created. This can lead to severe health effects, reactions, and even death from just one party where the two are combined.

Effects of Cocaethylene

Anytime you’re combining alcohol and cocaine you’re running the risk of creating cocaethylene but, what are the dangers of this substance? Here are some of the common effects of cocaethylene toxicity:

Heightened Impulsivity

Similar to the two drugs that created it, heightened impulsivity is a major effect of cocaethylene. What does this mean for the cocaine user? You’re more likely to make bad decisions or do things you wouldn’t normally do while sober.

You’re more likely to jump into dangerous situations, make the decision to drive while under the influence, and do things that could cause mental trauma once the high has word off. The drug strips the mind’s ability to filter the logical consequences of the decision and you’ll be more apt to agree on face value.

Increased Toxicity

People take cocaine and alcohol for the good feelings it starts up in their bodies. If the liver creates this combination substance it’s able to produce 15 – 20 times the effect of cocaine on it’s own increasing the toxicity to your body and mind.

This increased toxicity puts even higher levels of pressure on your circulatory system, functioning brain synapsis, motor function, and essentials of life. While you’re caught up in the high, your body has to work overtime to keep you running.

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Risk of Cardiovascular Issues

Due to the increased toxicity of the combination you’re at a much higher risk for cardiovascular, or heart, issues after experiencing the effects of cocaethylene. Because your body is working 15-20 times harder, that means your heart is too. 

If you are currently under any sort of supervision for high blood pressure or heart issues of any kind, this kind of stress will make you even more prone to major cardiovascular events and heart attacks.


In the same way as heart issues, stroke has everything to do with the circulatory system. Overloading the blood vessels through external stimuli makes the body more prone to blood clots and problems moving blood around your body.

If these blockages cut off blood from the brain the result can be a stroke which leaves you susceptible to loss of motor function, speech, and even sudden death.

Excessive Intoxication

If you experience this reaction it can immediately boost your intoxication level from a normal one to a major excessive intoxication event very quickly. The biggest risk of this is that you may feel fine when leaving the party or event you did the substances at but, at a moment’s notice, your intoxication level could triple.

Maybe you felt like you were ok getting behind the wheel, for instance, when you left but now you’re stuck in highway traffic experiencing a huge disparity in your intoxication level compared to when you left. This puts you and everyone around you in a substantial amount of danger.

In addition to outside circumstances, excessive intoxication even experienced in your own home leaves you open to other conditions like passing out, excessive vomiting which can lead to aspiration, and the issues we have discussed above.

Potential Liver Damage

The creation of this toxic chemical takes place in your own liver. Now, if you suffer no ill effects after one time of this happening you’re lucky. But, if you continually combine alcohol and cocaine and subject your liver to the creation of this monster over and over you’re asking for liver damage and even complete failure.


Ultimately, the worst-case scenario is death due to cocaethylene toxicity.

Additional Polysubstance Abuse Factors

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant, increases heart rates, and lends itself to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Alcohol is an equally powerful depressant and inhibition dropper. Continually putting your body and mind through the yo-yo rollercoaster of these reactions poses the serious risk of knocking your own mental functioning out of whack.

Your body can become dependent on the substance to feel happy or tired, or anything at all. The mental and physical consequences of continued substance combinations are increased risk of severe depression, increases in ADHD and OCD behaviors, higher risk of manic depressive episodes, and more.

If you’re someone who already suffers from a mental health disorder these effects can be even worse.

Finding Treatment for Cocaine Abuse & Alcohol Use Disorders

If you are experiencing any effects from alcohol and cocaine abuse, or co-occurring disorders related to your addiction, and are seeking effective treatment options, we are here to help.

At Riverside Recovery of Tampa, we specialize in getting you better and turning the ship around. Learn more about our options and how our program can help by contacting us today.