Benzodiazepines, or “benzos”, are a family of sedatives or minor tranquilizers that are designed to treat insomnia, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. When these drugs are mixed with alcohol, they can intensely magnify alcohol’s depressive effects and place users in serious physical and emotional jeopardy. Mixing alcohol and benzos can impair judgment, significantly decrease mobility or control over one’s own movements, and dramatically depress the central nervous system. This combined abuse can also place intense strain on the respiratory system and significantly impair breathing. One of the largest issues with prescribing benzodiazepines for legitimate illness is determining a patient’s level and frequency of alcohol consumption.
Some of the benzodiazepines most commonly abused in conjunction with alcohol, include: Xanax, Ativan, and Valium. Mixing these drugs usually leads to considerable cognitive impairment and decelerated response time. This often leads to automobile crashes and other types of potentially fatal accidents. Despite considerable evidence to demonstrate the dangers of combing alcohol and benzos, this problem remains one of the most common causes of intoxication-related hospital admissions and accidents. Ironically, two of the most effective medications in the treatment of isolated alcohol withdrawal include the benzos, diazepam and lorazepam.
Physical Risks of Mixing Benzos and Alcohol
Benzodiazepines work by inhibiting or suppressing natural brain activity to help users feel relaxed and calm. Alcohol performs a nearly identical function by depressing central nervous system activity. When combined, the two drugs magnify each other’s effects and can slow, or even stop, the natural functions of major parts of the body such as the kidneys, liver, brain, and heart. Exactly what effects a person feels when combining alcohol and benzodiazepines is dependent upon their tolerance level and how much of each drug they’ve consumed, however a large enough dose can shut down vital organs and cause coma or death.
Other risks of blending alcohol and benzodiazepines include:
- Esophageal damage
- Intense nausea
Treating Combined Alcohol and Benzo Addiction
As with any multiple substance abuse problem, there are common underlying emotional factors that cause a person to choose to use multiple drugs simultaneously on a regular basis, and not just once at a party. In addition to treating the actual symptoms and effects of joint substance abuse through detoxification, we follow up with behavioral health-focused treatment to help our patients develop the strength to be free of all substance abuse for the future.
The combination of alcohol and benzos carries the highest risk of all the possible alcohol and drug combinations because they are both sedatives. The number of fatalities are much higher for this combination of multiple addictions than for any other alcohol and drug combination. You or your loved one's road to recovery and safety can start right now, just by contacting us here at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches anytime, day or night, 24/7 TOLL-FREE at (888) 432-2467.