What Happens If I Mix Alcohol And Benzodiazepines?

Alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system that can cause sedation, reduce anxiety, and promote relaxation, much the same way as Benzodiazepines (also known as Benzos) can. Combining these substances, which have similar actions, can easily lead to negative effects.

Mixing alcohol and Benzodiazepines can result in disinhibition, amnesia, and sedation, which may include severe loss of motor function and altered mental status. Due to varying tolerance levels, these effects can differ between individuals.

Do Alcohol And Benzodiazepines Have The Same Effects On The Body?

Alcohol and Benzodiazepines do have some similar effects on the body. Both Benzos and alcohol are associated with impacts on the GABA receptor complex. This explains some of the synergistic effects and cross-tolerance between the two. Both agents can cause respiratory depression, confusion, slurred speech, sleepiness, loss of coordination, and amnesia. Additionally, both substances can lead to physical and physiological dependence when taken over long periods of time or in large amounts.

A study in the American Journal of Managed Care found that people who misused alcohol had higher rates of Benzodiazepine use. Both alcohol and Benzodiazepines can be abused to obtain feelings of euphoria or disassociation from reality. When these agents are taken together, it can result in a synergistic effect that compounds the effects of either substance individually. This is done at times to feel an increased high or to maximize the euphoria.

Due to these similar effects, when someone with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) enters a detoxification program, Benzodiazepines may be used in a highly monitored setting to mimic alcohol’s effect on the brain due to the similarity of Benzodiazepine effects on the GABA receptor. In addition, Benzodiazepines are preventative agents against the development of seizures, which are possible during alcohol withdrawal.

What Are The Risks Of Mixing Alcohol And Benzodiazepines?

The risks of mixing Benzodiazepines and alcohol involve the risk of serious harm and death. The most dangerous risk is significant respiratory depression, leading to unresponsiveness, progression to a comatose state, and death.

Other risks include disinhibition combined with amnesia, resulting in a significant risk to well-being. Automobile accidents, sexual assault, vehicular manslaughter, falls resulting in head injury, vomiting with aspiration, and physical harm due to loss of motor function are some examples.

The combined effects of these two substances are especially dangerous for someone who feels they are tolerant to one of the substances and wants to enhance their high. The threshold for intoxication is lower when combined, as the effects are doubled when taken together.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that work as depressants of the central nervous system to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Many Benzodiazepines can produce almost immediate effects and are effective for short-term or intermittent use.

Currently available Benzodiazepines include:

Benzodiazepines vary in their onset of action, duration of action, form, and absorption and metabolism characteristics. Benzodiazepines are known medications of abuse but are rarely misused alone; almost 80% of Benzodiazepine abuse is linked to polysubstance abuse.

What Are The Side Effects Of Benzodiazepines?

The main side effects of Benzodiazepines are related to the central nervous system. Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Hostility or aggression
  • Impulsive actions
  • Depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation
  • Slurred speech

Over time, tolerance can occur, which can affect the amount of medication someone may need to feel the same effects. In general, most Benzodiazepines are recommended for short-term use when prescribed for anxiety and panic attacks.

How Long After Taking A Benzodiazepine Can You Drink Alcohol?

Someone prescribed Benzodiazepines should not ingest alcohol in any combination. The variety of individual patient effects, tolerance, dependence, body type, liver function, and kinds of Benzodiazepines available makes it impossible to recommend any circumstance where this combination is safe.

Can You Overdose On Benzodiazepines And Alcohol?

Yes, both alcohol and Benzos can lead to respiratory depression, excessive drowsiness, and depressed brain activity. Death or significant harm can result from respiratory depression, seizures, or environmental effects such as physical injury from falls or motor vehicle accidents.

The Time To Get Help Is Now

Any substance misuse, whether it be alcohol, Benzodiazepines, or both, can disrupt your life and stop you from living the life you want to live. However, recovery is possible.

Contact a treatment provider today. They can answer any rehab-related questions and discuss available treatment options.