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The Dangers of Mixing Viagra & Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug derived from the plants of the South American coca plant. It’s the most commonly used stimulant in the UK; the latest data shows 2.9% of UK adults use cocaine. The UK also reports the highest levels of crack cocaine problems across all of Europe.

Cocaine works by boosting the amount of dopamine, a natural chemical messenger, in brain circuits to do with reward. Usually, this cycle ends naturally by shutting off the signal between nerve cells, but cocaine stops this communication, essentially flooding the system with dopamine.

This reinforces use and over time the reward circuit may become used to this stimulation and become less sensitive, which is why people with cocaine addiction may end up taking stronger, more frequent doses to feel the same high.

In the short-term, cocaine may cause you to feel extremely happy, more energetic, mentally bright and hypersensitive to your senses.

However, it can also lead to less pleasant side effects and dangerous health problems like seizures, heart attacks, strokes, mood issues and more.

Using cocaine can prove fatal too, and overdose deaths are rising. The latest ONS data from 2020 showed 777 deaths involving cocaine, which is 9.7% more than in 2019 and five times as many deaths compared with a decade ago.

Clearly cocaine use is problematic, but it becomes even more dangerous when mixed with other drugs and medications. In this article we look at the risk of mixing Viagra and cocaine.

What Is Viagra?

Viagra, which you might know of as Sildenafil, or by brand names including Aronix, Liberize, Nipatra, Revatio and Grandipam, is a medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow. It is also less commonly used to treat pulmonary hypertension, which is when you have high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs.

It belongs to a group of medicines known as phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. It works for men with erection dysfunction by increasing blood flow to their penis temporarily, making it easier to achieve an erection. In pulmonary hypertension it relaxes the blood vessels in the chest and reduces the strain on your heart.

Most adult men that need it can take Viagra for erectile dysfunction and most people over the age of one can take it for pulmonary hypertension.

Depending on your condition you can either get Viagra on prescription or buy it from your local pharmacy. It comes as normal tablets, chewable tablets or in a liquid.

Viagra comes with side effects which the NHS say are likely to happen in more than 1 in 100 people.

These include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Hot flushes
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Stuffy nose

1 in 1,000 people may experience serious health risks and it is advised that you seek urgent professional medical advice if you have any alterations to your vision, a painful and long-lasting erection or a seizure.

Very rarely people can have a serious allergic reaction to Viagra. It’s important to go to A&E if you show any signs, such as a skin rash, wheezing or tightness of your chest.

Can You Mix Viagra & Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant and it is known for increasing sexual drive and pleasure. At the same time, it can negatively impact a man’s ability to maintain an erection. In order to get around this issue, some people choose to mix Viagra and cocaine with the hope of combatting this effect. According to research, the history of partygoers using Viagra dates at least as far back as the 90s.

But it’s not a good idea to mix these two drugs. Not only does it come with a series of serious health risks, it could also put you at risk of developing a psychological dependence on this dangerous combination of drugs.

Dangers of Mixing Viagra & Cocaine

Combining Viagra and cocaine is a popular choice for some partygoers, it even has a nickname: ‘sextacy’. But there are several compelling reasons why you should avoid mixing these two drugs.

Priapism

Priapism is an erection that won’t go away. That might not sound like a big deal but it can be incredibly uncomfortable and can even result in anatomical damage if it isn’t treated quickly. While the causes of priapism are often unknown, research has found that certain illegal drugs, including cocaine, can cause priapism. So, taking Viagra and getting an erection while also on cocaine is putting yourself at unnecessary risk.

Cardiovascular Problems

The literature is very clear on the link between cocaine and cardiovascular issues. Cocaine often makes the heart pump faster than it should, tightens blood vessels and limits oxygen flow to the body. Viagra, on the other hand, opens up the body’s blood vessels and this combination can have unpredictable consequences on blood flow, potentially endangering the body’s blood vessels.

Research looking into the link between cocaine and Viagra with cardiovascular issues stated: “The use of illicit and non-prescription drugs, including cocaine and sildenafil (Viagra), is increasing despite a well-defined risk of severe and potentially lethal cardiovascular events”. There have been reports of heart attacks and acute aortic dissection, which is a tear in a major artery, after mixing these two substances together.

Serotonin Syndrome

Another potential issue is serotonin syndrome, which is when too much serotonin, a chemical found in the brain, accumulates in the body. Too much of this chemical can cause symptoms like rapid heart rates, seizures and unconsciousness and left untreated it can be fatal.

Psychological Risks: Dependence & Addiction

Viagra is not a physically addictive drug, but it may still psychologically impact men who take it but don’t actually need it. Some research has found men that use Viagra do so to quell what they perceive as a psychological ‘addiction’. If combined with cocaine, a highly addictive substance, they may start to feel they cannot engage in sexual behaviour without this combination. This is not a good idea considering the addictive nature of cocaine and the many health risks of combining it with Viagra.

Why Younger Men Are Not Safe From Viagra’s Health Risks?

It’s a long held belief of many that Viagra use is limited to men suffering from erectile dysfunction, who most commonly are over the age of 40. However, it’s increasingly common for younger men to experiment with Viagra, despite not having a clinical need for it. Instead of using it out of necessity they are choosing to use it as a sexual enhancement aid.

But it might be worth exercising caution around this trend. Preliminary research has found:

“However, potential deleterious effects might exist. Because PDE5 inhibitors are being used as nonprescribed drugs by as much as 9% of young men, further studies must evaluate the effects of these drugs in young and healthy men.”

You should only take Viagra if you have been advised to take it and you should avoid mixing it with any illegal drugs, including cocaine, at all costs.

References

Altman AL, Seftel AD, Brown SL, Hampel N. Cocaine associated priapism. J Urol. 1999 Jun;161(6):1817-8. PMID: 10332443.

McCAMBRIDGE J, MITCHESON L, HUNT N, WINSTOCK A. The rise of Viagra among British illicit drug users: 5-year survey data. 2009 May. https://doi.org/10.1080/09595230500537167

Rosalijn Both (2016) A matter of sexual confidence: young men’s non-prescription use of Viagra in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 18:5, 495-508, DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2015.1101489

Famularo G, Polchi S, Di Bona G, Manzara C. Acute aortic dissection after cocaine and sildenafil abuse. 2001 Jul. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0736-4679(01)00345-6

John R. Richards, Dariush Garber, Erik G. Laurin, Timothy E. Albertson, Robert W. Derlet, Ezra A. Amsterdam, Kent R. Olson, Edward A. Ramoska & Richard A. Lange (2016) Treatment of cocaine cardiovascular toxicity: a systematic review, Clinical Toxicology, 54:5, 345-364, DOI: 10.3109/15563650.2016.1142090

Fernando Korkes, André Costa ‐ Matos, Renato Gasperini, Pedro V. Reginato, Marjo D.C. Perez, Recreational Use of PDE5 Inhibitors by Young Healthy Men: Recognizing This Issue Among Medical Students, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 5, Issue 10,2008, Pages 2414-2418, ISSN 1743-6095, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.00792.x.