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Article section:   Mixing Alcohol & Other Substances
medically reviewed

Mixing Benzodiazepine and Alcohol

Discover why mixing benzodiazepine and alcohol have a synergistic depressant effect on the central nervous system.

Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription drugs frequently used to treat anxiety-related conditions. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, these drugs work by slowing the activity of neurons in the brain. The effects of mixing benzodiazepine and alcohol are profound and dangerous, and dependency on benzodiazepines is a real possibility when not taken in accordance with a doctor’s instructions. If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating addiction, there is help. A confidential and private national helpline is available, with staff ready and willing to offer expert assistance. Helpline staff can put you in touch with the best local and national treatment centers, so that your recovery has the highest odds of success.

Side Effects of Benzodiazepine

Introduced to the public in the 1950s, benzodiazepines quickly became the prescription drug of choice for treating anxiety disorders. Thirty years would pass before public health officials recognized the dangers of benzodiazepine addiction. Even when prescribed by a doctor, this class of drugs has a provocative list of side effects, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Reduced coordination
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss

Effects of Mixing Benzos and Alcohol

Alcohol and benzodiazepine (or benzos) have a synergistic depressant effect on the central nervous system. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that memory impairment is far more likely when these substances are combined. High doses or prolonged abuse of benzodiazepines can result in significantly impaired memory, mood swings, and behavioral changes. People who abuse these drugs often find that they develop a tolerance to their effects. They have to take more to achieve the same high, in other words. Another alternative employed by those struggling with alcohol is to combine alcohol with their drugs. While this certainly helps them achieve the desired sensations of calm or euphoria, the potentially dangerous side effects of both alcohol and benzodiazepine are more pronounced when these drugs are combined.

According to an article in the journal “Alcohol Research & Health,” alcohol and benzodiazepine have a synergistic depressant effect on the central nervous system. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that memory impairment is far more likely when these substances are combined. During blackout periods, you may engage in risky behavior, such as driving a vehicle or walking down a busy street. You could say or do things you’ll later regret, apart from the physical damage of abusing drugs and alcohol.

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Treatment for Benzodiazepine and Alcohol Addiction

If you’re addicted to benzodiazepine and alcohol, there are effective methods for overcoming the problem and never looking back. Treatment for addiction to benzodiazepine and alcohol begins with recognizing the problem and reaching out for help. As long as a person remains in denial, it will be quite difficult-though not impossible-to make them see the negative effects of his behavior. As the addiction progresses, the effects on a person’s health and well-being will become impossible to ignore.

Treating Alcohol Withdrawal

One of the cruelest effects of benzodiazepine is that it’s dangerous to stop cold turkey. Individuals should seek professional medical attention when they’re ready to stop using. A doctor can prescribe detoxifying medications to ease the pain of withdrawal, while inpatient addiction clinics provide a nurturing atmosphere for people at this difficult crossroads in their life.

Individuals may experience symptoms of withdrawal as soon as five to 10 hours after the last time they consumed alcohol. These symptoms may persist for several weeks after withdrawal has begun. In most cases, the worst symptoms of withdrawal are experienced two to three days after withdrawal.

Hotline to Call

Stopping use of benzodiazepines and alcohol consumption is extremely dangerous and detoxing from them should be done within a supervised treatment center. If you or someone you love is currently struggling with substance abuse and alcoholism, call our hotline now to speak with someone about treatment.

You can also use the free and confidential form below to see if your insurance covers substance abuse treatment.