Risky Alcohol/Drug Combinations

Below is a list of common questions and safety information. If you have additional questions or need help please contact the Alcohol and Drug Program.


When using Red Bull or Monster as a mixer or drinking pre-mixed drinks like Four Loko or Sparks, you are tricking your body into thinking it’s not tired. Your body is more intoxicated than you may feel, which can lead to alcohol poisoning. Energy drinks also increase dehydration which leads to hangovers the next day. Those who consumed both alcohol and caffeine were at least two times as likely -- compared to those drinking alcohol without caffeine -- to be hurt, need medical attention, take sexual advantage of another, or accept a ride with someone who was inebriated.

Adderall causes one to feel like they are not as drunk as they really are. This can lead to making very dangerous decisions since you are unaware of your level of intoxication. Because alcohol is a depressant and Adderall is a stimulant, drinking alcohol while taking Adderall can cause cardiac arrhythmias, and paranoid or psychotic reactions, on top of the risks of vomiting, dizziness, muscle twitching and headaches that are more likely to increase when mixed with alcohol. When prescribed Adderall, patients are advised not to drink alcohol. The side-effects could be much more dangerous for students using Adderall without a prescription.

Includes: Vicodin, Xanax, Oxycontin, Percocet, Demerol, Norco, etc.
Mixing painkillers with alcohol is dangerous. The mixture of these two substances can lead to intensified sedative effects and respiratory depression. Painkillers can lead to liver problems and disease when used recreationally, the mixture of this drug with alcohol can intensify these side-effects

Mixing these two substances can cause heavy vomiting, spins, very strong paranoia, decreased motor control and decreased mental concentration. Also, because marijuana suppresses the gag reflex, you may not be able to throw up alcohol when your body needs to.

These two substances are commonly mixed with the thought that they cancel each other out; this is NOT TRUE. Combining cocaine and alcohol produces a high amount of a third unique substance, called cocaethylene. A high amount of cocaethylene in the body increases the already harmful risk of cardiovascular toxicity to a much higher extent than any other drug. Cardiovascular toxicity causes pressure and stress on the heart.

Each of these substances alone causes depression of the central nervous system, so the mixture of the two is extremely dangerous and has been proven to be fatal.

It is very well known that one should never mix ecstasy with any other drug substance, especially alcohol. It is known that most ecstasy related deaths have been due to the mixture of alcohol with the drug. When the two are mixed the alcohol reduces the feeling of the ecstasy’s high and puts a much greater strain on the kidneys. Also, dehydration caused by drinking alcohol occurs more rapidly when on ecstasy.

Alcohol is mixed with LSD to take down or slow down the effects and relax. However, more commonly combining alcohol can make the comedown of the drug much worse with extreme nausea and vomiting.

Mushrooms or "Shrooms" are a psychedelic and are not meant to ever be taken with any other drugs. The mixture of alcohol and shrooms is usually to help take away the effect and high of the shrooms because alcohol is a depressant. However, the intended outcome is not a guarantee and side-effects include nausea and vomiting.

Amphetamines alone are very risky because of the strain on the heart and the increase in blood pressure. When mixing alcohol with amphetamines side-effects can become much more serious. Consuming alcohol while taking amphetamines can make someone act very aggressive and irresponsible; it is extremely harmful to the kidneys and intensifies hangover effects.

It is important to always read the labels on prescription medications and adhere to the warnings about alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol while on antibiotics can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, fatigue and in some cases convulsions, immense headache, flushing, rapid heart rate and shortness of breath. Since antibiotics and alcohol are both broken down through the liver the combination of these substances can result in liver damage. This combination also diminishes the effects of the antibiotics you are taking. Try to focus on getting healthy again. You’ll probably enjoy drinking more once you’re healthy anyway.

Combining alcohol with antidepressants (Zoloft, Prozac, etc.) can cause an increased response to alcohol -- For example, having one drink might feel like two. Also, the combination might create unexpected emotions and inhibit the antidepressant from doing what it's supposed to do. If it is a new prescription, try it out without drinking alcohol so you are familiar with your body's reaction first and then consult your doctor if any problems occur.

Drinking alcohol while taking antihistamines can cause a less effective outcome of the medication. Your body will choose to metabolize the alcohol before the antihistamines. Labels typically suggest you stay away from alcohol all together when on antihistamines so it is very important to always check any label on the drug.

Birth control pills take three full hours to get into your bloodstream and be effective. If you vomit due to drinking or any other causes before that three hour window, the effectiveness of birth control pills is diminished. Mixing alcohol and birth control can make some people feel nauseous, which can cause vomiting. Also, some women feel drunk quicker when on the pill since their bodies are metabolizing the hormones of the pill making it more difficult to metabolize the ethanol in alcohol. Plus, drinking can interfere with remembering to take your pill at the same time, which also increases the chances of pregnancy.

Blackouts? Be Safe and Pace...

  • Blackouts are a form of alcohol-related memory loss. They occur when people have no memory of what happened while intoxicated, due to alcohol disrupting the brain’s ability to form new memories.
  • During a blackout, someone may appear fine to others; however, the next day they cannot remember parts of the night and what they did.
  • Brown Outs are partial blackouts, and are typically more common, but occur in the same way and the same precautions should be taken.
  • Blackouts happen after rapid consumption of large amounts of alcohol.
  • Drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Females are more prone than males for blacking out, due to reasons such as “differences in body weight and proportion of body fat”.
  • Someone may engage in multiple activities they will not recall the next day including fighting, driving a vehicle, spending money, and sexual intercourse
  • The blacked out individual can potentially put themselves and others in danger.
  • Decreased ability to make judgments and disruption in decision-making and impulse control.
  • PACE YOURSELF. Blackouts occur based on how fast you drink, not how much you drink.
  • EAT BEFORE DRINK in order to close the pyloric valve in your stomach that allows for alcohol to quickly enter your small intestine and get into your bloodstream
  • Between every alcoholic drink, DRINK WATER in order to keep up a steady pace. This will also help to prevent alcohol-related sickness and hangovers.
  • It is important to remember that there is no sure way to tell if someone is blacked out. While some people may be belligerent, others may be able to function normally when blacked out.
  • A trick if you think someone is blacked out is to tell them three random words like “shoe, cat, lunchbox” and ask them to remember them. After 10 minutes, ask them what the three words were. Usually a blacked out individual cannot recall the words.
  • Give the person food, water, and make sure they get home safely

Choosing to use? Just Choose One!

The Just Choose One campaign is not telling students to refrain from partying, drinking or going out in Isla Vista. We are just encouraging students to refrain from mixing alcohol and substances together, as these mixtures lead to the most dangerous and consequential effects. Enjoy the effects of just alcohol or just a drug, and you'll be much safer.

If you are going to be using illegal drugs or substances that are not prescribed to you, make sure you know the euphoric effects, side effects and potential consequences. You can come to the UCSB Alcohol & Drug program, make an an appointment with a counselor and ask any of these questions. You will not get in trouble for asking any questions.

Alcohol Poisoning? What to know...

Alcohol Poisoning occurs when someone has consumed more alcohol than their body can safely metabolize.

Warning Signs Include:

  • Won't wake up
  • Vomiting while passed out
  • Slow/Irregular breathing
  • Pale skin
  • Extreme Confusion

Drug Overdose? What to know...

A Drug Overdose occurs when a person takes more than the medically recommended amount of a drug for their particular body. Each person has a different body type and mental health, so drugs may interact differently for each person. Warning Signs Include.

  • If the person is unresponsive, try nudging them or gently pinching their arm. Whether using stimulants or depressants, if someone passes out and will not wake up, it is a warning sign for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.
  • Stimulants increase temperature. If the person’s skin feels very warm to the touch or they are sweating profusely in otherwise normal conditions, it is a warning sign for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.
  • Depressants (alcohol) decrease temperature.
    If the person’s skin feels cool to the touch in otherwise normal conditions, it is a warning sign for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.
  • Stimulants (cocaine, Adderall) speed up breathing.
    If the person is breathing faster than usual or they seem to be short of breath, it is a warning sign for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.
  • Depressants slow down breathing.
    Less than 13 breaths per minute or more than 8 seconds between breaths is considered slow breathing and is a warning sign for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.
  • Stimulants make skin flushed.
    Flushed or reddish skin is a warning sign for a drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.
  • Depressants make skin pale. If the person’s skin looks paler than usual, they have bluish lips or sweaty/cool skin, it is a warning sign for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.
  • Stimulants increase pulse.
    A person overdosing on a stimulant may report a racing heart or chest pains. These are warning signs for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1. Depressants decrease pulse.
  • Place the tips of your index and second fingers on their lower neck, on either side of their wind- pipe. Count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply this number by 6. If lower than 60, it is a warning sign for drug overdose. JUST CALL 9-1-1.

Hangovers? How to avoid one...

Hangovers are evidence of the body’s withdrawal symptoms from alcohol use and the body's reaction to the toxicity of alcohol. The severity of symptoms varies according to the individual and the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Typical hangover symptoms: fatigue, nausea, headache, thirst and sometimes vomiting.

There are many myths about how to prevent or alleviate hangovers, but the only real safe way to prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation:

  • Eat a good dinner and continue to snack throughout the night.
  • Alternate one alcoholic drink with one non-alcoholic drink.
  • Try to avoid fast-paced drinking games or shots. Drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time is the easiest way to become dangerously intoxicated.

​The only real way to sober up is by waiting it out – your body must metabolize all the alcohol in your bloodstream (which typically takes one hour per drink). Some tips for easing the waiting process:​

  • Drink plenty of water and/or juice to get rehydrated
  • Avoid excessive caffeine as it may contribute to dehydration. However, if you regularly drink coffee every morning, have your first cup not more than a couple of hours after you usually do. Don't force your body to go through caffeine withdrawal in addition to alcohol withdrawal.
  • Take an over-the-counter antacid (Tums, Pepto Bismol or Maalox) may relieve some of the symptoms of an upset stomach.
  • HOWEVER, do NOT take any painkillers (Advil and Tylenol) until the alcohol is fully out of your system. Painkillers react with the alcohol in your system and create a chemical that is toxic for your liver
  • Do not go too many hours without food as this will increase the effect of the low blood sugar caused by alcohol.
  • Eat complex carbohydrates like crackers, bagels, bread, cereal, pasta, etc.