Mixing anxiety medications with alcohol
Have you ever thought of mixing anxiety meds with alcohol?
Have you been wondering its effects are? Here we discuss and assess the risks and dangers of mixing anxiety medications with alcohol. We’ll review what happens in your body when you mix these chemicals with alcohol and what can go wrong. We’ll also discuss the potential for overdose and side effects of taking both substance together. We invite you to ask questions or comments about mixing anxiety meds and alcohol in the comments, at the end. We try to answer questions with a personal and prompt reply.
Anxiety medications and alcohol effects
While pills for anxiety aren’t frequently a drug of choice or abused on their own to get high (relative to other narcotic drugs), people seek to use alcohol to intensify the euphoric effect that they can achieve while taking benzodiazepines or sedatives. And while some people ask, “Is Ativan an additive drug?” or, “How does Xanax affect the brain?” others may not care and avoid the precautions given them by doctors. Ironically, some types of anxiety meds are prescribed to treat anxiety and for people who are trying to detox from alcohol and can mitigate the withdrawal effects of alcohol. It is for this reason that people find combing the two alluring.
However, effects of drinking while taking anxiety medications have included reduced motor skills, memory loss, potential amnesia and enhanced mood changes. And a codependence can develop between the two substances. Combining alcohol and anxiety meds can also effect memory and behavior, which can increase risk for accidents, overdose and potential death.
While medications for anxiety disorders can treat the side effects of mental health disorders (including alcohol withdrawal), they can also provoke many negative effects that are dangerous when combined with alcohol. That is why doctors warn against drinking while on any of these types of medication. When drinking on lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax) or other benzodiazepines you can decrease the effectiveness and usefulness of these anxiolytics, thereby altering the course of therapy for mental health disorders or anxiety.
Dangers of mixing lorazepam and alcohol
Alcohol enhances the effects of anxiolytic medications in the body. In fact, both alcohol and anti-anxiety meds are central nervous system depressants. A sedative benzodiazepine pill becomes more potent as alcohol relaxes the body and slows it down. This action can lead to a coma or it can increase the level alcohol intoxication in the body, which could poison you.
Ironically, some anti-anxiety meds actually helps take care of withdrawal symptoms of alcohol. Many alcoholics find this sedative alluring so they continue to function without a hangover and continue to drink. What makes this relationship dangerous is that both substance depress body responses to the point your heart can stop beating. Without quick medical attention, this could result in death.
Anxiety meds and alcohol overdose
If you take lorazepam, alprazolam, or other benzodiazepines AND drink alcohol, you have a lower chance of overdose if you do not mix the two. However, combining benzodiazepines with alcohol only increases your chances of potential overdose. Alcohol is a depressant and benzo anti-anxiety meds are sedatives, so together the chemical reaction in the body causes drowsiness. Plus, anxiety medications can mask the effects of alcohol so as you continue to drink on these pills, you may increase alcohol toxicity, eventually resulting in alcohol poisoning or death.
Anxiety meds and alcohol deaths
Death is possible when you mix anxiety pills and alcohol together. Because of this, doctors advise that you NEVER drinking while on anti-anxiety medications. The two together lead to accidents as cognitive ability decreases. Plus, drinking on anxiety pills can depress heart rates and breathing, resulting in death.
If you are planning to drink while taking your anxiety medications, it is best that you wait until any benzodiazepine is out of the system before drinking. Without the presence of the medication it should be safe to drink. How long benzodiazepines stay in your system depends on dosing and drug type. But be aware that the two can develop relationship of dependence. It is advisable you speak to your doctor if you plan to drink as you are taking anxiety medications.
Is it safe to drink on anxiety medications?
No. It just isn’t safe to drink while on anti-anxiety medications. There are too many factors that play into combining the two. Simply, you can experience too many dangerous reactions if you drink while on benzos. If you have any questions about drinking and taking anti-anxiety medication, talk to your doctor before you do.
Mixing anti-anxiety medication alcohol questions
Do you still have questions about mixing anti-anxiety medication with alcohol or other substances? Please leave your questions here. We try our best to answer all questions personally, and promptly. And if we don’t know the answer, we will refer you to someone who can help. Your experiences with mixing anxiety pills and alcohol are also welcome.
Reference Sources: NIAAA: Alcohol Alert Alcohol-Medication Interactions
NIAA: Alcohol and Medication Interactions The State of Missouri Drug Use Review: Issues and Options for Benzodiazepine Use
Photo credit: Andrew J Furgeson