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 / Benzodiazepine / Is Mixing Benzodiazepines And Alcohol Dangerous?

Is Mixing Benzodiazepines and Alcohol Dangerous?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 85.6% of people aged 18+ had consumed alcohol at some point in their life. The report continued to state that nearly 15 million Americans aged 12+ reported having an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).


Mixing different substances can lead to dangerous side effects though most people do so to enhance a substance’s effect. Mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines is risky because they affect your central nervous system (CNS). The mixture of these two substances can easily lead to severe side effects, overdose, and death; consult a doctor before it’s too late.

What Are Benzos?

In the United States, Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat disorders like insomnia, anxiety, panic, metabolic and mood disorders, muscle tension, hypertension, etc. Benzos are highly addictive because they are sedative-hypnotics that affect your brain's GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid) neurotransmitters. The function of the GABA neurotransmitters is to help regulate stress levels and provide calming effects.

 

These medications also act on the central nervous system as a depressant. They slow down body functions like heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure, reducing anxiety, tremors, agitation, muscle tension, and lowering body temperature. For this reason, doctors prescribe benzodiazepines for short-term uses to manage specific conditions.

 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), 4.8 million Americans misused benzodiazepines, while 28.3 million Americans had prescription benzodiazepines in 2019. Some commonly prescribed benzos include:

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Medically Reviewed:

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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Risks Associated with Mixing Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

Alcohol and benzodiazepines affect the glutamate and GABA neurotransmitters that end up depressing the CNS. Combining these causes excessive respiratory depression and sedation that may quickly become dangerous complications like coma or death. Mixing Alcohol and benzos can have the below dangers:

 

Overdose

Mixing benzos and Alcohol may cause an overdose in two ways. Firstly, both drugs depress the CNS, compromise breathing, and reduce oxygen supply to vital organs like the brain. Your brain can’t withstand a lack of oxygen for more than 6 minutes, and other organs are also damaged when you go into hypoxia.

 

Secondly, your body removes both drugs through the liver. When you combine the two, the liver takes longer to eliminate these drugs, which may trigger an overdose.

Also, remember to treat an overdose case as an immediate medical emergency. Pay close attention to the following alcohol and benzos overdose signs:

 

  • Impaired reflexes and coordination

  • Weak blood pressure

  • Slow pulse

  • Vomiting and nausea

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Extreme mental confusion

  • Clammy and cold skin that may seem blue

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Drowsiness

  • Double or blurred vision

  • Coma

Rolling Hills Recovery Center offers free 24/7 benzo addiction support. Call today and confidentially speak with our addiction specialists at 855-559-8550.

Chronic and Acute Conditions

A mixture of alcohol and benzodiazepines may increase stroke risks, seizures, heart attacks, psychosis, and depression. Chronic use of this mixture can easily cause damage to vital organs like kidneys, liver, GIT, lungs, heart, and the brain. Additionally, long-term alcohol use may lead to Alcohol-Related Liver Disease (ARLD), whose effects are heightened by the combination of benzos and alcohol.

Physical Dependence and Addiction

You develop physical dependence and tolerance to benzos and alcohol when you combine the two for a long time. You quickly build tolerance due to the effects of both drugs and may take much higher doses to reach the desired outcomes.

 

Since physical dependence develops much more quickly, withdrawing from both substances can lead to dangerous side effects that may become fatal. Extreme physical dependence may lead to addiction - a condition characterized by intense cravings and risky withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use the drugs.

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Mental Health Disorders

Taking benzos such as Librium mixed with alcohol can lead to psychological issues like depression, delirium, and anxiety.

 

Losing relationships

Spending more time abusing drugs may cause you to lose critical relationships in your work, school, social or family life. This is because you can’t sustain your relationships and diminish your quality of life.

 

Amplifies Adverse Effects

Both alcohol and benzos act centrally, increasing or doubling the effects of both drugs.

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There are thousands of drug rehabs to select from, making it challenging to choose which is suitable.

Addiction treatment is essential; many methods exist to help pay for drug and alcohol rehab-associated costs.

There is a cost associated with drug rehabilitation, but the advantages of seeking care are worthwhile.

Signs That You Are Combining Benzos and Alcohol

People abuse benzos like valium and alcohol for several reasons, including recreational purposes. For some, you may use valium to treat an anxiety disorder and combine it with alcohol when the symptoms become too severe. Within no time, you are hooked on both drugs and don’t know a way out of the addiction.

 

Additionally, if you use benzos to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you will likely abuse both drugs. Once you get used to the “high” feeling, it becomes challenging to taper down. So, how can you identify that you are dependent on abusing alcohol and benzos?

 

Social Symptoms

People with chronic use of diazepam and alcohol may develop social interaction issues because they constantly battle severe adverse effects. These people may become loners or shun help offered by close friends because sustaining meaningful relationships is a problem. They may also develop antisocial behaviors like forging prescriptions or stealing medications from others when they don’t have the substance.  

 

Psychological Symptoms

Mixing the two drugs can lead to psychological issues like anxiety and panic attacks, major depression, speech impairment, and bipolar-related disorders.

 

Physical Symptoms

Using a combination of these drugs increases the effects of both substances. For instance, impacts on the central nervous system leading to hypoxia may cause fainting, memory lapses, breathlessness, decreased cognitive abilities, severe sedation, and even coma.

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Treating Addiction to Benzos and Alcohol

You must recover from a dual diagnosis because it indicates a much larger problem than cravings. Addiction recovery begins with detox in a controlled environment to help you safely withdraw from the substance. Before joining an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, you will get enough medications and therapeutic support to ease withdrawal symptoms.

 

Please consider talking to a doctor before it reaches a life-threatening stage if you mix benzos and alcohol. Recovery is a process; don’t worry if it seems challenging when you start. Don’t give up; seek help and live a drug-free life.

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What are benzos?
Risks associated with mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines
Signs that you are combining benzos and alcohol
Treating addiction to benzos and alcohol

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