Dangers of Mixing Valium and Alcohol

There is evidence that alcohol use and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are associated with an additional risk of benzodiazepine misuse, and that the rates of such misuse may be greater in those with more severe AUD.1 In fact,  past studies have shown that as many as 19% to 40% of people in treatment for alcohol use disorder had also recently misused benzodiazepines such as Valium.1

This article will explain the risks of combining Valium and other benzodiazepines with alcohol, withdrawal, and how to get help if you or a loved one are struggling with a substance use disorder.

What Is Valium?

Valium (diazepam) belongs to the benzodiazepine class of medications. It is FDA-approved for the short-term management of anxiety disorder symptoms, and for managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.2 It is also used as an adjunctive treatment for muscle spasms and convulsive disorders.2

Valium Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effects include:2

  • Drowsiness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Ataxia (poor coordination).

The risk of more frequent or severe adverse effects may increase in instances of Valium misuse—which may include using Valium at higher than prescribed doses, or using Valium while drinking alcohol, taking other medications, or using illicit substances.2

Adverse Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most widely used substances in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 219.2 million people aged 12 and over have reported consuming alcohol in their lifetime, and 133.1 million people reported drinking in the past month.5

Despite such prevalent consumption, alcohol can have several adverse effects. Alcohol affects every organ in the body, which can result in a pervasively negative health impact.3 Over time, excessive alcohol use (e.g., binge drinking, heavy drinking), may be associated with certain long-term health problems, including serious cardiovascular issues, liver disease, and increased risk of certain types of cancer.5

More acutely, the intoxicating effects of alcohol may include:

  • Increased risk of harm from poor motor coordination, reduced impulse control, and impairment of other functions.
  • Increased risk of potentially fatal overdose when alcohol is combined with sedative-hypnotics, like Valium.

Mixing Valium with Alcohol

Valium should not be mixed with alcohol as they are both central nervous system depressants, and when combined could result in dangerously amplified effects. Mixing Valium and alcohol can lead to extreme sedation, drowsiness, and slowed or arrested breathing, and it can even cause a coma.2 Sometimes, these symptoms can be severe enough to be fatal.2

What Other Benzos Are Dangerous to Mix with Alcohol?

Mixing any benzodiazepines with alcohol has the potential for increased adverse outcomes, including overdose and death.10 Generally, the risk of a potentially fatal overdose is increased with polysubstance use (using more than one substance at a time).6, 10

Mixing Xanax with Alcohol

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine that is prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders.7  When Xanax and alcohol are combined, the depressant effects on the central nervous system are amplified, increasing the risk of:7

  • Difficulty breathing or respiratory depression.
  • Severe drowsiness or sedation.
  • Coma.
  • Overdose.
  • Death.

Mixing Ativan with Alcohol

Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety disorders.8 When combined, Ativan and other CNS depressants (such as alcohol) can increase the risk of fatal respiratory depression.8

Mixing Klonopin with Alcohol

Klonopin (clonazepam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed for panic and seizure disorders.6 Mixing Klonopin with alcohol can lead to increased risk of:6

  • Oversedation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Respiratory depression
  • Overdose.
  • Death.

Can You Overdose on Valium and Alcohol?

Yes, you can overdose on Valium and alcohol.2 When Valium and alcohol are mixed, serious adverse outcomes, including respiratory depression or death, are possible.2  Signs of an overdose when depressants, like Valium and alcohol, are mixed include:10

  • Slow breathing.
  • Weak pulse.
  • Altered mental state or confusion.
  • Passing out.

Valium and Alcohol Withdrawal

Both alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal syndromes have similar symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening.9 These symptoms can include:9,11

  • Autonomic hyperactivity.
  • Hand tremor.
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Hallucinations or illusions.
  • Psychomotor agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Grand mal or tonic-clonic seizures.

Withdrawal from sedative-hypnotics and alcohol, both alone or in combination, may be associated with certain withdrawal complications, such as seizures, that may benefit from close medical attention and pharmacological withdrawal management efforts.9 Doing so, whether in an inpatient or an outpatient treatment setting, can help keep a person more safe and comfortable during this difficult period of early recovery.9

Help for Polysubstance Use

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol, benzodiazepine misuse, or other substances, there is effective and compassionate help available. Our addiction treatment specialists at our inpatient rehab in Etta, MS, use evidence-based addiction-focused healthcare to get you on the road to recovery and back to living the life you deserve.

Call one of our admissions navigators today at . Our navigators can help answer any questions you have about getting help for addiction in Mississippi, what to expect when seeking treatment, what levels of care are available, and whether or not your insurance will cover treatment.

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