Benzodiazepines and Alcohol

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.

The combination also may lower your inhibitions, thus increasing the chance you’ll engage in unprotected sex, dangerous driving or other risky behaviors.

In severe cases, the impact on heart rate and breathing may lead to convulsions, coma, brain damage and death.

The Statistics

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 40 percent of all emergency medical treatments related to the combination of benzodiazepines and alcohol resulted in death or some other type of serious medical outcome.

Similarly, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), reports that nearly one-third of all drug-related deaths are associated with benzodiazepines.

Treating Addiction to Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

Most importantly, call emergency medical providers immediately if you notice any of the warning signs or symptoms mentioned above.

The first step is detox, which involves gradually tapering the dosage of benzodiazepines. Never try to stop using benzodiazepines without the assistance of a medical provider, as quitting cold turkey is difficult and extremely dangerous.

At Paracelsus we are very experienced to make the tapering and finally stopping Benzos as painless and easy as possible. There is no need to suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

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