- Mixing opioids with any other substances can put your loved one at risk for overdose. Mixing can overwhelm the body – there can be too many chemicals for the body to process.
- Mixing opioids with other depressants such as alcohol or benzodiazepines (“benzos”) is especially dangerous because it multiplies the “downer” effecton the body’s functions.
- ANY mixing is dangerous! Mixing an upper (like cocaine) with a downer (like heroin) INCREASES overdose risk.
- Not using for just a few days can greatly reduce the amount of drugs a person’s body is used to and can handle.
- This might happen after someone has been in jail, or if s/he is using again after getting out of a program.
- It is important that the person starts slowly and not try to use the same amount s/he did before.
- If a person is using alone and they overdose, there is no one there to respond or call for help.
- People are at high risk for overdose after not using for a while, which is also when they might be the most secretive or feel the most ashamed that they are using again.
- Let your loved one know that nothing is more important to you than their safety.
- Let them know that you know that relapse is a fact of life and that they should not be ashamed or hide it from you.
- Ask them to never use alone and let them know that you will try to help them, no matter what.
Differences in Strength and Content of Street Drugs (Purity Levels)
- Because heroin is illegal, there is no way to regulate it.
- Dealers can mix heroin with other substances to “stretch it out,” and the buyer might not know.
- If someone is used to using drugs that are 25% heroin and then uses the same amount but it is 75% heroin, s/he would be at risk for overdose.
- Being sick, losing weight, or having decreased liver function can increase someone’s risk of overdose.
Click here to watch our video on Risk Factors for Opioid Overdose.