Manufacturers print brightly colored warning messages on prescription bottles for a reason, and it’s a good idea to pay attention. One of the most important messages is, “Do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medicine.”
While mixing any prescription drug with alcohol is a very bad idea, mixing booze and benzodiazepines is extremely dangerous, and may be deadly. If you or somebody you love is abusing alcohol and benzodiazepines, drug and alcohol treatment or rehab can help, and may be a lifesaver.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are medications that slow responses in the central nervous system, thus producing a feeling of calm and relaxation.
Commonly known as “benzos,” benzodiazepines, discovered by accident in the mid 1950s, were welcomed by medical providers as a safer alternative to barbiturates. By the early 1960s, these medicationas were used to treat problems such as anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia, muscle spasms and seizures. They are meant to be used only for short-term relief as they are extremely addictive:
Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:
- Valium (diazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Serax (oxazepam)
- Rohypnol (flunitrazepam)
What are the Risks of Mixing Benzos and Alcohol?
Benzodiazepines are relatively safe when used as directed. However, alcohol and benzos are both central nervous system depressants, and both have sedative affects. Using the two substances together intensifies the effects of each.
It’s impossible how to predict how the combination of alcohol and benzos may affect you because a number of factors are involved, including the amount of food eaten, the amount and how quickly alcohol is consumed and the dose of benzodiazepines, as well as your age, body weight, overall health and condition of your kidneys and liver.
Mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol may result in respiratory depression, diminished coordination, confusion, memory problems, impaired gag reflex, delusions, psychosis, aggression, mania, agitation, dizziness, amnesia, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.