Is Cocaine and Viagra a Safe Mixing Combination?

Former NBA star Lamar Odom had blood spewing out of his nose and white stuff coming out of his mouth when he was found unconscious at a Las Vegas-area brothel in 2015, according to witnesses. Authorities concluded that Odom had taken cocaine and 10 doses of a Viagra-like medication, which put him on the brink of death.

His case may be an extreme example. Yet, it proves that abusing cocaine with an erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra (sildenafil) is indeed dangerous if not deadly. If both drugs do not produce lethal consequences, they can at least cause its users to incur permanent damage. One particular outcome is something called priapism.

Read on to learn more about priapism and the other dangers associated with cocaine and Viagra.

What Cocaine Does to the Body

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, which is native to South America. This central nervous system (CNS) stimulant works by binding to the dopamine transporter. This action boosts dopamine in the brain’s pleasure center and produces a euphoria that is intense yet brief.

Because cocaine impacts the brain’s reward pathway so profoundly, users are compelled to binge this illicit drug. This is why the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies cocaine as a Schedule II substance, a designation that means a drug has a high potential for abuse.

Plus, cocaine addiction can occur rather quickly, leaving the user prone to significant cardiovascular, central nervous system, and respiratory system damage.

By itself, cocaine can cause any of the following symptoms:

  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Disassociation with reality
  • Increased alertness
  • Intense feelings of joy

Cocaine overdose symptoms are life-threatening. Overdose can occur the first time you use cocaine or anytime thereafter. Those deleterious symptoms include:

  • Heart attacks
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation/anxiety
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High body temperature
  • High blood pressure

What Is Viagra?

It is rare for a medication to become a pop culture touchstone, but Viagra or “the little blue pill,” as it is often called, became that soon after it was introduced as erectile dysfunction (ED) medication in 1998.

But sildenafil, which is sold under the brand name of Viagra, had medical use before its unveiling as an ED medication. In 1989, scientists from the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer created sildenafil to help treat high blood pressure and angina.

In the following years, clinical trials for the drug found little effect on patients’ blood pressure, but there was an interesting side effect — a “big” side effect — that ended up changing the drug industry, states a report from Inverse.

That “effect” led to an innovative, game-changing marketing campaign that featured a former Republican presidential nominee and several sports and entertainment celebrities. They all touted Viagra’s effectiveness in helping men gain and keep an erection. That campaign launched Viagra into the stratosphere, as the drug has raked in billions of dollars in revenue since its introduction. In fact, the drug netted $2 billion in sales alone in 2008, according to Fortune.

cocaine and viagra

Though generic forms of the medication are available, along with rival ED meds, Viagra still generated $640 million in revenue in 2018, states Statista, the German statistical database.

Though only available through a prescription, Viagra is widely used, but it is also diverted to be abused recreationally. There are “knockoffs” and purported herbal remedies that boast Viagra-like effects that are available over the internet and at gas stations.  Even when used as directed, Viagra can produce hazardous effects by itself.

What Viagra Does to the Body

Viagra can generate side effects that range from mild to severe. Some of the more common ones include:

 

  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Nosebleeds
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tingling in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
  • Diarrhea
  • Flushing
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Changes in color vision
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

The serious side effects can be symptoms such as:

  • Severe vision loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness/Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Rash
  • Itching or burning upon urination
  • Painful erection or erection lasting more than 4 hours

Even more concerning is the fact that there have been reports of men who have taken sildenafil for erectile dysfunction and suddenly died or experienced heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, or brain and lung bleeding.

When taken in combination with cocaine, the risk of death and permanent damage greatly increase.

The Dangers of Taking Cocaine and Viagra Together

By itself, cocaine can cause people to suffer seizures. Viagra can as well. But when taken together, there is no proof that they lead to an increase in seizures, according to this study. Yet, there is one particularly damaging effect that can occur instead when users decide to “party” (take cocaine) and “play” (take Viagra).

Though users of cocaine and Viagra report having stronger erections and experiencing more sexual satisfaction, the effect of a prolonged erection is actually damaging. This effect is called priapism, which is defined as a persistent and painful erection of the penis. Having frequent bouts of priapism from repeated use can lead to severe nerve damage in the penis, according to SteadyHealth.com.

What’s more, according to the website, 59 percent of priapism cases will result in ED complications in the future. In severe cases, patients may require penile prosthesis.

But that’s not the worst outcome from this sort of polysubstance abuse. There is a link between cocaine abuse and heart attacks when the illicit stimulant is used with Viagra.

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Another potentially devastating effect from this combination is serotonin syndrome, which occurs when high levels of serotonin — a chemical found in the brain — accumulates in the body. Too much serotonin can provoke a range of symptoms, from mild (diarrhea and rapid heart rate) to severe (seizures and unconsciousness), according to the Mayo Clinic. When left untreated, severe serotonin syndrome can be fatal.

Another effect of taking both substances is that users will shed their inhibitions and be compelled to take part in risky sexual behaviors, increasing their risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

How Professional Treatment Can Help You

Taking multiple drugs at the same time is called polysubstance use or polysubstance abuse. This type of substance abuse requires the most intensive intervention a professional drug treatment program can offer. Why? Because polysubstance abuse, with its exacerbated effects, can kill you.

In a professional setting, a reputable substance abuse program is administered as a  comprehensive, multilevel process designed to address the profound complexity of addiction.

As is the case with alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, or prescription drug addictions, a professional recovery program is designed to treat the entire individual — mind, soul, and body. This is especially the case with polysubstance abuse where cocaine is abused with other substances like Viagra.

Treatment begins with medical detoxification, where the addictive substances are removed from the body, and any withdrawal symptoms that arise are treated and alleviated.

For multiple substance addictions, it is recommended that patients undergo residential treatment after detox. In a residential program, a client will live at the facility where treatment is administered. Here, a client will get intensive counseling and therapy to help them get to the root of their addictions, which can be psychologically restorative.

Typically, after a residential program, clients enroll in an outpatient program, where they can continue to receive treatment but have the option of living at home or some other arrangement.Clients can get connected to an alumni program, which can provide a supportive recovery community after treatment.

Get Help Today

Cocaine and Viagra do not have to claim your life. We can help you find a program that restores your sobriety and overall well-being.

Call 855-960-5456 anytime, day or evening, for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable addiction recovery specialists at The Palm Beach Institute. They can help you locate the right treatment option. Contact us online for more information.