Opioids and Cocaine Make for a Dangerous Combination

There was a time when cocaine use was sweeping across the country. The drug took inner cities by storm in the eighties and nineties and claimed many lives in the process. Then, cocaine use generally went down after prescription painkillers and heroin became more popular.

Experts have noticed that more people are dying from drug overdoses involving cocaine than in subsequent years. Researchers investigated the most recent string of overdose deaths to isolate why this may be occurring. They found that it is much more common to mix cocaine with opioids than previously thought. This deadly combination has been identified as the reason for the surging fatalities.

What Do People Mix with Cocaine?

People mix cocaine with several known opioids, both prescription and illicit. Here are some of the most common combinations of drugs: 

  • Cocaine and oxycodone
  • Percocet and cocaine
  • hydrocodone and cocaine
  • cocaine and Vicodin
  • codeine and cocaine
  • heroin and cocaine

Combining Cocaine and Opioids

So what happens when you combine cocaine with an opioid? First, let’s look at what types of drugs cocaine and opioids are.


Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which means it increases the levels of dopamine in a users’ brain. Some people refer to stimulant drugs as “uppers.”

Short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • extreme happiness and/or energy
  • mental alertness
  • paranoia
  • hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • irritability

The long-term effects of cocaine will depend on how the method of use. For example, snorting cocaine will lead to loss of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, and a frequent runny nose. Smoking cocaine will lead to cough, asthma, and a higher risk of respiratory infections. Injecting cocaine leads to an increased risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and skin infections, to name a few. Long-term cocaine use also may lead to malnourishment because cocaine suppresses the users’ appetite. It also may lead to movement disorders after many years of use.

“Opioids, primarily heroin and synthetic opioids, have been driving the recent increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths. This corresponds to the growing supply and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl [a synthetic opioid] in the United States.” [1]


Opioids are depressant drugs, which means they slow down the central nervous system, including breathing. Some people refer to opioids or other depressants as “downers.”

Short term effects of opioids include:

  • pain relief
  • relaxation or happiness (euphoria)
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • slowed breathing
  • constipation

The long-term effects of opioids may include physician dependence, cardiovascular disorders, addiction, and tolerance. Overdose is also, unfortunately, common. 

Combining Cocaine and Opioids

Mixing a depressant, such as heroin, with a stimulant, such as cocaine, is commonly referred to as a speedball. The cocaine and heroin combo increases the risk of overdose. In fact, this combo is responsible for the deaths of several prominent celebrities including John Belushi, Chris Farley, River Phoenix, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Mixing the two substances together can lead to heart attack, respiratory arrest, overdose, and death.

The Increase in Cocaine and Opioid Overdoses

It was discovered[2] that cocaine and opioid overdoses increased between 2006 and 2015, despite the number of cocaine users declining. This indicates that they are more like additional opioid deaths who also used cocaine, rather than the other way around, as there has also been a long upward trend of poly-drug users. Mixing multiple substances in such a fashion makes overdoses more likely to happen as well.

There have also been reports of cocaine users unknowingly ingesting synthetic opioids added to the powder. “In the absence of recent, regular opioid use, someone using cocaine and fentanyl (knowingly or unknowingly) would be highly susceptible to opioid-induced respiratory depression and subsequent overdose,” the authors wrote.

Should You Enroll in A Rehab Center?

Is it necessary to enroll in a rehab center if you are addicted to opioids and cocaine combinations? The answer is yes! This is because these are dangerous drug combinations that could lead to death, not to mention the emotional, financial, and even physical drain experienced.

Therefore, enrolling in a recovery facility helps you interact with highly trained professionals who guide you on coping tactics for whenever you get the urge to consume a dangerous drug combination. What’s more, you get to interact with people going through the same experience as you are; therefore, you get support to put an end to your drug addiction.

Opioids and Cocaine Combinations Seen More Frequently

In a day where drug overdose deaths continue to rise, the threat for every single user becomes a very real possibility. There are too many things that can go wrong and synthetic drug additives for any user to really know what they are consuming. If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs, contact us today to learn more about successful intervention and treatment options.