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The Dangers of Mixing Valium and Alcohol

Drinking alcohol when you are taking prescription drugs can be dangerous. This is especially important with benzodiazepines like Valium. Alcohol and Valium are both central nervous system depressants, which can worsen each other’s side effects. Moreover, people may develop a dependence on both.

However, a person with an alcohol addiction who has stopped drinking will experience withdrawal. Because of this, Valium may be given to ease withdrawal symptoms. This is done medically supervised or in a clinical setting to prevent dependence on the other.

If signs of addiction are ignored, it may progress to an addiction to both Valium and alcohol, resulting in dangerous consequences. On top of that, Valium is often prescribed or misused to cope with stress and anxiety. The effects of both these substances can be detrimental to a patient’s physical and mental health. 

This is why there is an urgency in seeking early treatment for polysubstance use disorder. It is crucial to be aware of the signs and find the right treatment program for potential addiction.

What is Valium (diazepam)?

Valium is the trade name of diazepam, which belongs to the drug class benzodiazepines. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating anxiety, seizures, restless leg syndrome, and muscle spasms.

Other than this, doctors will also give Valium as a sedative and manage alcohol withdrawals. It is a fast-acting, long-lasting benzodiazepine.

They have a better safety profile than barbiturates, and there is a medicine available that can reverse possible overdosing. If taken alone and as prescribed, it is an effective CNS depressant. 

Nevertheless, diazepam is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. These classes of drugs are prone to misuse and dependence. A prescription can only be obtained after assessing this risk. The dosage given is the minimal effective dose, which is determined per individual.

A physician typically starts at a smaller dose to minimize side effects and dependence. Dosage is gradually increased with progressing tolerance to the drug. The usual dosage may begin at 2 mg to 40 mg daily. Higher dosages are separated 2 to 4 times daily. Valium is available for oral administration in 2, 5, and 10 mg scored tablets. 

How Does Valium Work?

Valium facilitates the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This reduces the activity in the central nervous system, resulting in anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, and sedative effects. Diazepam is useful in symptomatic relief of acute alcohol withdrawal. It manages acute agitation, tremor, delirium, and hallucination.

Valium is only effective for short-term use for these conditions. Their safety has only been assessed for less than 4 months. A doctor will monitor a patient for side effects and signs of abuse if they are taking them at high doses and for an extended period.

Side Effects of Valium

There is a warning found on the label about the effects of mixing Valium with sedating drugs and the risks of profound sedation, respiratory depression, and coma. These drugs affect the brain the same way as Valium. People who misuse these substances refer to them as “Downers.”

Other psychoactive drugs that stimulate the brain will also cause harmful effects and interfere with its effectiveness. Stimulants or “ Uppers” like meth or cocaine are common drugs of abuse. Although, some patients may unintentionally experience drug-to-drug interaction with their other prescription medications.

This is why informing your healthcare provider of your medications is important. 

Sedating drugs/substances include:

  • Opioids (oxycodone, OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin)
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital, Seconal, Nembutal)
  • Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan)
  • Drinks containing alcohol

Stimulant drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Bath salts
  • Amphetamines (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta)
  • Methamphetamine or meth (Desoxyn)
  • Diet aids (Didrex, Fastin)

Moreover, prolonged use of Valium will cause severe respiratory depression, making breathing difficult. It can also lead to extreme sedation, coma, and even death. These risks should be taken into account before Valium is prescribed.

If you use Valium with other substances, the chances of experiencing these effects increase. Managing the complications becomes more difficult as well.

It is advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery to avoid injury or accidents since it will cause drowsiness, dizziness, and lower motor coordination after taking Valium. Taking psychoactive substances like alcohol increases the risk of drug mortality. In most cases, emergency visits and overdosing deaths are caused by multi-drug use.

A patient must notify their physician if they experience the following side effects: 

  • Sedation
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Mood swings
  • Hypotension
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Sleep disorders

Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is a psychoactive substance like benzodiazepines. It depresses the brain’s central nervous system. Moreover, there are long-term consequences to drinking too much alcohol in your lifetime.

It can increase the risk of several acute and chronic diseases like liver failure and heart problems. Since alcohol affects the brain’s reward system, it can cause dependence. Other than their physical health, people may show behavioral changes that can affect their relationships, work, and careers. 

There is also a link between mental health conditions and alcohol dependence. Some people who abuse alcohol use it as a way to cope with stress and mental health. However, alcohol can only worsen these conditions. People taking Valium for anxiety may be at fatal risks. 

Can I Develop Alcohol and Valium Dependence?

People can develop a dependence on both Valium and alcohol. These substances affect the brain’s reward system and are often abused together.

People who abuse Valium may drink alcohol to increase the effects of the drug. Eventually, a patient will develop a tolerance for both, needing more to maintain their effects. This increases their risk of alcohol or Valium overdosing. 

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol consumption and the related risks it causes can be affected by numerous factors, such as culture, social norms, age, gender, socio-economic status, and environmental stress. There is no single risk but a total amount from different factors. 

In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) started a global strategy to reduce the harm of alcohol use. Its health and social burdens have become a public health priority.

As awareness of the impact of alcohol dependence on global health grows, the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH) was developed by WHO. It represents the levels and patterns of alcohol addiction, health and social consequences, and regulated policies. 

Drug Abuse

There is a huge overlap of the prevalence of benzodiazepine addiction with alcoholism. Abuse of drugs like “benzos” is usually common for people who are prescribed these drugs but are unaware of their risks and those who intentionally neglect these consequences due to addiction.

There are a significant number of people who report alcoholism with misuse of prescription.

Can you Combine Valium and Alcohol?

Mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause dangerous effects. You will often see warnings on prescription medicines about drinking alcohol while taking your dose. Alcohol can affect the medicine’s effectiveness. On top of this, it can precipitate harmful effects. 

Mixing alcohol and Valium can cause the following effects:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Cognitive problems
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness or impaired motor control
  • Heart problems
  • Respiratory depression
  • Fatal overdosing
  • Injury and accidents

The Dangers of Mixing Valium with Alcohol

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse (NIAA) has documented the effects of alcohol on your body, especially the brain.  On top of this, alcohol can cause organ damage. It will weaken a person’s immune system, making it an easier target for disease.

Consequently, side effects of taking diazepam and other medications can cause more harm with chronic alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes opioids, benzodiazepines, and abuse of alcohol as a global epidemic. 

Many emergency visits are attributed to alcohol consumption. Using these drugs in combination creates a dangerous level of CNS suppression, especially with benzodiazepines like Valium. 

Organ Damage

Alcohol can interfere with the brain’s development and affect a person’s mood and behavior. A person intoxicated with alcohol will have a hard time being rational and moving with coordination.

Drinking too much will also cause high blood pressure and even stroke. Additionally, your liver will take on a lot of damage since alcohol is metabolized through it, and a lot of oral medications exacerbate this. 

Mental Health Problems

Patients who are prescribed Valium for anxiety may have a habit of drinking to cope with their condition. If these patients are wrongfully prescribed without proper caution, they are at risk of developing an addiction.

This can worsen their mental stability. Some people who are at risk of substance use disorder are often also diagnosed with other mental health problems.

Dependence on drugs without proper support or therapy may lead to dangerous consequences like suicidal ideation and self-harm.

Alcohol or Benzodiazepine Overdose

Overdosing on Valium can be life-threatening. Many deaths caused by overdosing on Valium are accompanied by alcohol use. People who often abuse these drugs also abuse alcohol to increase the “ buzz” they experience.

This is sought after by people with a substance abuse disorder, increasing their risk of toxicity and harmful effects. 

Benzodiazepine is one of the most prescribed drugs in the US. The abuse of prescription drugs has led to an increase in drug-related deaths, along with alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Withdrawals from Diazepam and Alcohol

You will experience withdrawals from both substances if you suddenly discontinue them. The severity is dependent on the amount and length of use. Signs will include tremors, rebound anxiety, psychosis, and irritability. More severe effects due to long-term or chronic use can cause hallucinations and seizures.   

Alcohol and Valium Addiction Treatment

Treating addiction starts with awareness of the early signs of abuse. A person who is dependent on drugs or alcohol will show changes in their behavioral, physical, and psychological states. However, some people may only start treatment after an emergency visit due to overdosing.

Patients have to go through the process of detoxing from the drug and learning healthier coping mechanisms. Polysubstance abuse can easily progress into addiction. Detoxing from these substances will also be much more complicated. 

Alcohol and Medical Detox

Your tolerance to these drugs is doubled when you take them concomitantly. Dependence and withdrawal symptoms may be harder to control.

This is why finding a rehab facility with a comprehensive treatment program is crucial. Proper medical supervision will ease symptoms experienced during detoxing. Slowly tapering off Valium and stopping alcohol consumption may need certain prescriptions like naltrexone. 

Addiction Treatment Program

Luxe Recovery offers substance abuse treatment options where you can be guided by experts who can help you with multiple addictions. They can also personalize a treatment plan if you have substance abuse and a mental health disorder

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers

You may opt to choose different types of treatment plans after a rehab facility assesses your condition. Residential treatment at a rehab center that offers different types of therapies and treatment approaches will cater to patients with severe addiction and a high potential for relapse.

An intensive outpatient program may suit patients with mild addiction who want to continue their daily lives. Proper diagnosis is required for this program.

Regular support is available with a range of therapy sessions. After treatment, Luxe Recovery offers sober living so that people can continue learning life skills and transition to their regular lives smoothly. 

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