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and Alcohol

Learn About This Dangerous Combination


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Studies have shown that benzodiazepines are dangerously abused with alcohol too frequently. Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are sedatives that work by changing certain neurotransmitters in the brain. One of the most common substances abused in conjunction with benzodiazepines is alcohol.

What You Need to Know About Benzos and Alcohol

Benzos are a type of prescription drug used for treating symptoms of anxiety. Benzos work by slowing down the activities of specific neurons in the brain. Many people mistakenly believe that prescription drugs’ side effects are insignificant and would not severely impact them.

However, combining prescription drugs and other substances may increase the chances of something going wrong in your body. The use of benzos as a prescription drug alone is medically safe. But when combined with alcohol, it may be dangerous.

Risks of Combining Benzos and Alcohol

Several people are unaware of the risks associated with mixing benzos and alcohol. Benzos and alcohol are both depressants. This means they both slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the body organs. Mixing both can lead to devastating consequences, including breathing slowing and even death.

Alcohol Use and Abuse

Alcohol has a long history in our society as a way to socialize or relax. However, excessive drinking of alcohol or drinking alcohol to deal with anxiety or depression has serious adverse effects.

Alcohol Statistics

Statistics show that drinking alcohol is prevalent among adults. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism(NIAAA) reveals the following alcohol-related facts:

  • 16.3 million adults in the US have had an alcohol use disorder(AUD)
  • About 1.5 million adults dealing with alcohol abuse had treatment in a specialized AUD facility
  • Alcohol consumption caused 3.3 million deaths in 2012
  • Alcohol-impaired driving accounted for more than 31% of vehicular fatalities in 2014
  • Alcohol is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the US, with about 88,000 people dying of alcohol-related causes yearly

Effects of Alcohol Use

The effects of alcohol are both short and long-term. In the short term, mood swings, inhibitions, and later a hangover. Side effects of a hangover include headache, mental fogginess, and dehydration.

In the long term, alcohol may cause impaired memory and severe damage to vital organs in the body. Drinking too much can take a severe toll on your health. Heavy drinking affects the liver by causing severe inflammation such as fibrosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and more. Excessive drinking of alcohol also affects the heart by causing a stroke or high blood pressure.

Benzodiazepines Use and Abuse

What Are They Used For?

Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription drugs known as tranquilizers and include Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, among others. They represent one of the most prescribed medications in the US. Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines to treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, muscle relaxation. Benzodiazepines work by acting on the central nervous system and produce muscle relaxation, sedation, and reduced anxiety levels.

Effects of Benzo Use

The effects of benzodiazepines vary from person to person. Like other drugs, the results depend on the dosage taken and the tolerance and body composition of the person. The effects of benzos usually start a few hours after being taken. The following are some of the effects of both low or high dosages of benzos.

Benzodiazepines and Social drinking

Benzos and alcohol are one of the most common dangerous drug combinations. While the abuse of either of them is potentially dangerous, mixing them can be fatal.

Effects of Benzos and Social Drinking

Xanax is a common and safe benzodiazepine when used as prescribed. However, mixing Xanax and alcohol can lead to very devastating consequences. Mixing Xanax and alcohol increases the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid(GABA) in the brain. Xanax and alcohol overdose results in oversedation, leading to loss of concentration, respiratory depression, and cardiac arrest.

Potential Dangers of Social Drinking and Benzos

Mixing Xanax and alcohol can cause the heart to stop beating, leading to permanent brain damage, coma, or death. Xanax and alcohol overdose cause seizures, respiratory depression, and potentially death.

Benzodiazepine Statistics

According to the 2019 study, Benzodiazepines Use, and Misuse Among Adults in the United States, a total of 30.6 million adults reported using benzodiazepines in the past year.

The figure represents 12.6% of the population. It also shows 25.3 million ( 10.4%) as prescribed and 5.3 million (2.2%) as misusing the medication.

In 2016, a research paper published by the American Journal of Public Health reveals that between 1996 and 2013, benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality increased significantly in the US.

Benzodiazepines To Treat Alcohol Use Disorders

Benzodiazepines can treat some symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal. Benzos help to decrease withdrawal symptoms and reduce the desire to drink. Benzodiazepines may be taken with medication supervision during alcohol detoxification. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal occur during the detox process. The use of benzos as a medication for alcohol detoxification reduces withdrawal symptoms such as headache, insomnia, and seizures.

Potential Dangers If Unmonitored

Some of the potential dangers of benzos, if left unmonitored, can be devastating. Several symptoms may arise from suddenly stopping benzodiazepines. Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, tremors, anxiety, and panic, among others. Medical guidance is recommended when stopping the use of benzos.

Benzodiazepines and Untreated Alcohol Use Disorders


Alcohol use disorder is the inability to control alcohol intake, even when it may put your health or relationships at risk. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed during the detoxification process when with alcohol use disorders.

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

Mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol is a potentially dangerous combination. One of the dangers of benzos is that it can suppress your central nervous system. So mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol can put you at a very high risk of bodily injury, permanent brain damage, or death. Benzodiazepines must only be taken as prescribed. Mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol is devasting and fatal to your health. Similarly, mixing alcohol and barbiturates can also be very deadly.

Treatment for Benzodiazepines and Alcohol

The first step in treating the abuse of benzodiazepines and alcohol is detoxification. The detoxification process needs to be strictly monitored. Symptoms such as delusions, convulsions, and confusion may occur during detoxification. It’s important to detox under the supervision of a medical professional, as they can help you address these symptoms.

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