The risk of harmful drug interactions is why people taking prescription medications must be careful about mixing other substances. For people taking benzodiazepines, alcohol is one of those substances to avoid. If you’ve been prescribed benzos, learning about the effects of drinking while taking them is essential to making safe choices around alcohol use.
Effects of Alcohol Use
Alcohol’s widespread accessibility makes it an easy substance to obtain and consume. Daily and binge drinking can lead to physical, emotional, and mental consequences for an individual. Withdrawal symptoms starting a few hours after the last drink can suggest the presence of an alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
- Tremors or shakes
- Mood changes
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Heart palpitations
- Increased blood pressure or heart rate
- Rapid abnormal breathing
Effects of Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for mental health disorders, including anxiety, and for seizures and sleep issues. These medications act as a sedative and calm and relax a person. Although they’re widely prescribed, they’re considered a controlled substance because of their potential for misuse. Unfortunately, misuse tends to come with using other substances rather than using the benzos alone.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased tension
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Muscular stiffness or discomfort
- Mild to moderate changes in perception
- Hand tremors
Interaction of Alcohol and Benzodiazepines
When benzos are misused, alcohol is a frequent substance chosen to accompany the medication. However, as both are central nervous depressants, mixing them can lead to serious problems. These substances, taken together, can lead to medical emergencies requiring ER visits and hospitalization.
Common Side Effects of Mixing Benzodiazepines and Alcohol
Mixing these two depressants can lead to a variety of outcomes, some far riskier than others. For example, they may interfere with a person’s ability to function daily. Some symptoms may appear for a short time, while others last much longer.
- Mood swings
- Memory loss
- Loss of coordination
- Increased possibility of accidents
- Intense nausea
- Organ failure (liver disease, heart disease)
Highest Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Benzodiazepines
Mixing these substances leads to an increased risk of developing an addiction to both. In more severe interactions, organ failure or death from an overdose can result. This outcome can come from increasing the amount consumed over time to reach the same effect.
How Does Mixing Benzos and Alcohol Lead to an Overdose?
Regular use of a substance over time lessens its effect on the brain. The reduced result can prompt users to take higher doses of a drug or use it more often. Without recognizing the increased dangers of the greater amounts they’re using, a person may overdose. The risk of overdosing is high with chronic mixing of benzos and alcohol.
Signs of a Benzos and Alcohol Overdose
Signs to look for in someone who has overdosed on a mix of benzos and alcohol include extreme drowsiness and impaired movement. In addition, you may see slow and shallow breathing. If you recognize these signs in a person you suspect has taken drugs, it’s essential to get them medical attention as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in coma, organ failure, and even death.
What Role Does Detox Play for Someone Mixing Drugs and Alcohol?
Withdrawal symptoms from benzos and alcohol can create medical risks for a person. Alcohol and benzos withdrawal symptoms start within hours of the last drink or use. Left untreated, alcohol withdrawal can last more than a week, while benzos withdrawal can last two weeks or more. The risk of medical complications during this time is the reason why attempting to detox at home is strongly discouraged. A medical detox allows a patient to safely move through the withdrawal process of multiple substances with minimal risk to the body.
Restored Path’s Solution
Restored Path Detox is DFW’s premier location for sophisticated medical detox. Conveniently located in Frisco, we provide a safe sanctuary for healing that is also a state-of-the-art detoxification facility for a wide range of substances. Our compassionate physicians and therapists want you to get well and are committed to removing any existing barriers to your care. Restored Path’s team of board-certified physicians and highly qualified RNs have extensive critical care experience and are available to monitor your detox program 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol use, call us today and take your first step towards recovery: 561-841-1268.