Mixing any combination of prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, illicit drugs and alcohol can be unpredictable and dangerous.
Most fatal overdoses involve use of more than one type of drug (poly-drug use).
Poly-drug use is dangerous because different drugs act on our bodies in different ways. The harmful effects are magnified by using more than one drug type. For example, the more alcohol in the body, the less heroin needed to cause an overdose.
Examples of drug interactions:
Mixing alcohol and depressant drugs
Mixing alcohol (PDF 123KB) with other depressant drugs such as benzodiazapines (PDF 128KB) or opioids (such as heroin (PDF 124KB) and prescribed pain medications) can cause a person’s breathing and heart rate to decrease dangerously, increasing the chance of overdose. A person is described as having taken an overdose if they suffer a medical emergency as a result of accidentally or intentionally using a larger amount of a drug than normal. See the page called the risks of using drugs for more information about overdose.
Mixing heroin (PDF 125KB) and cocaine (PDF125KB) or amphetamines (speedballing) results in a high risk of overdose because the cocaine/amphetamines causes the body to use more oxygen while the heroin reduces the breathing rate.
Reducing the risk
Always read the instructions or seek advice from a health professional before mixing alcohol with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Not taking any illicit drugs at all is the safest choice, but if you do intend to use:
only use one drug type at a time (this includes alcohol)
have a friend with you who knows what you have taken and can respond to an emergency
ensure you are in a safe environment that you know
if you inject drugs, use safer injecting practices
Use of the information and data contained within this site or these pages is at your sole risk.
If you rely on the information on this site you are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency or completeness.
This site includes links to other websites operated by community, business and government.
These linked websites will have their own terms and conditions of use and you should familiarise yourself with these.
All linked websites are linked 'as is' and the Government of South Australia:
does not sponsor, endorse or necessarily approve of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations regarding the quality, accuracy, merchantability or fitness for purpose of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations that material on other websites to which this site is linked does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any person anywhere in the world; and
does not authorise the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material in other websites by linking this site to those other websites.
If you use automatic language translation services in connection with this site you do so at your own risk.
The information and data on this site is subject to change without notice. The Government of South Australia may revise this disclaimer at any time by updating this posting.
The Government of South Australia, its agents, instrumentalities, officers and employees:
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information and data contained on this site
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy or usefulness of any translation of the information on this site or any linked website into another language
make no representations as to the availability of the site and the availability of websites linked from or to the site
accept no liability however arising for any loss resulting from the use of the site and any information and data or reliance placed on it (including translated information and data)
make no representations, either expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the said information and data for any particular purpose
accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user's computer, software or data occurring in connection with or relating to this Site or its use or any website linked to this site
do not represent or warrant that applications or payments initiated through this site will in fact be received or made to the intended recipient. Users are advised to confirm the application or payment by other means.