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Alcohol Addiction and Benzodiazepines

The combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines is dangerous and does increase the chances of overdose.  A common method of drug abuse is mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines, and often it involves prescription benzodiazepines.  Alcohol is one of the most widely used substances in the United States.  Alcohol acts a central nervous system depressant, but with small amounts it is a stimulant.  Heavy alcohol use is problematic throughout the United States.  Millions of Americans struggle with alcohol addiction and binge drinking problems.  Alcohol-related death in the nation is one of the most preventable forms of death next to tobacco use.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 138 million Americans reported being current users of alcohol in 2015. 

During that same year, over 66 million Americans met the criteria for binge drinking, and over 17 million met the criteria for heavy drinking.  Between 2015 and 2017 around 15 to 17 million Americans met the criteria for alcohol use disorders.  Alcohol becomes a natural depressant, which leads to psychological issues, such as feeling depressed and anxious.  Benzodiazepines make up a large category of medications used to treat anxiety and sleeping problems.  When you are a heavy drinker you will feel anxious and struggle to sleep.  It does not take much to convince a doctor to prescribe you medication to help with your sleep and anxious feelings.  Barbiturates are the most often prescribed medication within the United States, and one of the most abused drugs with alcohol. 

What are common benzos used with alcohol?

Some of the more familiar benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, and Restoril.  A benzodiazepine is also a central nervous system depressant like alcohol.  When benzos are prescribed to patients, they are never meant to be long-term solutions, but millions of Americans remain on these drugs longer than needed.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that in 2015, close to 2 million Americans misused tranquilizers.  When benzodiazepines are misused, they are rarely the primary drug of choice.  The most common drugs misused with benzodiazepines are opioids, alcohol, and other benzos.  There are many reasons why these drugs are used in combination with one another.  The two drugs together enhance the effect of at least one of the other drugs.

Alcohol and Benzodiazepine Addiction Intervention

Many people who misuse benzodiazepines are often under the impression that using prescription medication with other drugs is safer than using illicit drugs.  Alcohol is readily available everywhere across the country, and many alcoholics are addicted to these drugs.  It is difficult for any alcoholic to be convinced they need treatment, and typically intervention is done.  When you are searching for a family intervention service, it should all be done with searching for drug rehab programs.  Intervention for a family member is the best way for an addict to understand the importance of treatment and be committed to receiving help.

There are countless risks with mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines, and there are labels on the bottles and warnings from the doctors.  However, this does not stop people from doing it, because the effects of the alcohol or the prescription are enhanced, resulting in addiction.  Doing a family intervention without the help of a professional interventionist will not always be successful.  Newman Interventions will help your family work through the process of an intervention.  The biggest risk associated with mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines is overdose.  The combination of two central nervous system depressants increases the risk of respiratory depression.  It is never too early to intervene and find an interventionist near you.  Newman Interventions is available to help your family save the life of the addict.


Works Cited – SAMSHA Data Review – Sept 22/19 – National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs – Sept 22/19

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