Benzodiazepines pose a risk of overdose enough on their own, but the likelihood of respiratory distress is higher when combined with alcohol. Mixing any two substances together can have legal consequences, especially when they have a depressing effect on your central nervous system.
The sedative effects of alcohol and benzodiazepines can have serious physical and mental side-effects. Beyond the immediately life-threatening, consequences also include long-term damages to the brain that impact memory, seizure disorders and worsened anxiety and depression.
Prescription Drugs and Alcohol
Prescription medications are printed with explicit instructions, and one of the most common is to not mix them with any type of alcohol. The reaction between alcohol and many medications can be two-fold; the alcohol may reduce the efficacy of the drug or change how it affects the body, and the drugs can impact the way alcohol is processed. The presence of alcohol can lead to an increased risk of overdose due to something called bioavailability; alcohol can increase the concentration of prescription drugs, including benzodiazepines, and cause them to reach dangerous levels in the bloodstream.
Both benzodiazepines and alcohol slow a person’s heart rate and breathing. Combining the two can double the effects and make a person far more likely to experience respiratory arrest. Despite this glaring risk, many people still take the two on purpose.
Effects of Mixing Benzos and Alcohol
The sedative effects of benzodiazepines and alcohol are often used by people to self-medicate anxiety and depression. Both can leave a person feeling comfortably “numb,” and they may willingly mix alcohol and benzodiazepines to achieve a stronger effect. Adjusting the intensity of their substance abuse effects is always an experiment because they never know how much of one drug will be enough to cause an overdose or result in life-threatening side-effects.
In the midst of substance abuse, people are not completely unaware of the risk. They just care more about achieving their desired result than not dying. This reality is difficult for non-users to understand. But in the mind of the person taking the medications and drinking, it’s all just a means to an end they often feel they can’t live without.
Benzodiazepines Effect on the Body and Mind
These prescription drugs can treat a variety of physical health problems and mental health symptoms; doctors most commonly prescribe benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, and people tend to abuse them because they provide a greater sense of relief. The short-term effects include sleepiness, confusion, poor muscle control, blurry vision and slurred speech. Long-term effects include possible dementia, permanent memory loss, slower processing and response times and difficulties with speech and language comprehension.
Withdrawal from Alcohol and Benzodiazepines
Sometimes, doctors prescribe benzodiazepines to help people manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of mental and physical side-effects that can be life-threatening; mild to moderate drinkers may struggle with anxiety that makes it difficult for them to participate in recovery without a more stable baseline.
But when a person abuses both substances, withdrawal can be particularly difficult. Going it alone can be medically dangerous as the side-effects can be combined and cause even more discomfort. People who attempt to withdrawal from benzodiazepines and alcohol alone are at a higher risk of overdose; even a day without either can cause respiratory failure when someone relapses due to the build-up of drugs in their system.
The safest way to recover is to go through a medical detox at a licensed facility that specialized in various types of substance abuse withdrawal.
Stopping the Abuse Cycle
Addiction can happen to anyone, even people who began taking drugs as they were prescribed by a medical doctor. Those who never had a drinking problem before can find themselves suffering from the effects of combining substances, and soon, they may be doing it willfully rather than addressing their underlying problems.
Treatment that targets the reality of people’s struggles and the reasons they turn to medication and alcohol in the first place promotes lifelong recovery.
If you’re ready to take control of your life and get the help you deserve, we’re here for you. Our trained medical staff will guide you through the detox process while making sure you detox safely. Contact us today at 833-846-5669 and let us help you get back to living substance-free.