Most people who are prescribed benzodiazepines are warned by their doctors not to drink alcohol while on the medication. The warning is even on every prescription bottle. However, not everyone takes this seriously. The problem with ignoring this warning is that mixing anti-anxiety medications, such as Valium, and alcohol can be quite dangerous or lethal.
What Is Valium?
Valium is a benzodiazepine, or anti-anxiety medication, that is usually prescribed for those struggling with an anxiety disorder. It can also be prescribed for those who are struggling with high anxiety before a medical procedure. It does a fairly good job at helping someone relax and/or manage their anxiety.
If you’re prescribed Valium, it’s likely that your doctor has prescribed this drug for short term use. It’s actually more effective when used for shorter periods of time. As a benzodiazepine, Valium is also addictive. The longer you’re taking it, the more likely your mind and body are to become addicted to it. Long-term use can also increase your tolerance, which means that you may need a higher dosage of the drug to get the same desired effect. As with many things, more does not always mean better.
It’s not uncommon for people to become addicted to benzodiazepines (benzos) like Valium. This is especially common for those who use them long term or abuse them. If you have developed an addiction to Valium, you’re likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Feeling tired
- Dry mouth
- Feeling shaky
As with any benzodiazepine, you should not try to stop using the drug cold turkey. Rather, under medical supervision, you should begin a taper schedule, gradually decreasing the dosage over time. This will help reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.
What Happens When Valium And Alcohol Are Mixed?
If you’re drinking on Valium, there are serious side effects that can occur. Both alcohol and benzos are central nervous system depressants. Taking the two together can have serious consequences.
Mixing Valium with wine or beer enhances the effects of both drugs, putting you at risk of complications or overdose. Despite the potential seriousness of the combination, still about one in five people will abuse alcohol well taking benzos.
Valium and alcohol interactions can cause the following side effects:
- Significant drowsiness
- Respiratory depression
- Vertigo (loss of balance)
- Loss of consciousness
How To Quit Drinking & Taking Valium
If you’ve been abusing beer, hard liquor, or wine with Valium, it’s imperative that you work on quitting to avoid dangerous effects. Again, keep in mind that you should not quit alcohol or Valium cold turkey because it can produce harsh and even lethal withdrawal side effects.
Benzodiazepines in general should not be abruptly stopped because the sudden stopping can cause your body to become confused and produce uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal side effects. The same goes for alcohol, especially if you’ve been abusing it for a while now.
Withdrawal effects may include:
- Higher anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Heart palpitations
- Body aches
Severe withdrawal effects could include:
Rather than quit drinking and taking Valium cold turkey, health experts state that you should begin to taper off them gradually. This is best done under medical supervision, as in a medical detox center, inpatient, or outpatient addiction recovery program. There you will be monitored by substance abuse professionals who can help minimize detox symptoms and assist you in getting free from addiction.
Treating Alcohol & Valium Addiction
If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse and/or an addiction to Valium, it’s important that you get treatment for both. Treatment centers will likely have you undergo an assessment to see how they can best treat both conditions. Treatment may involve a variety of therapeutic modalities, beginning with a detox program.
Valium and alcohol interactions can be serious. Physicians who warn against mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol do so because they understand the dangers. If you are taking a benzodiazepine such as Valium, refrain from drinking even a little bit. If you have been mixing Valium with wine or beer, and you feel you cannot stop on your own, reach out for some help. Continuing to abuse either or both substances can certainly lower your quality of life and could put your life in danger.
If you need help with substance abuse, there are many treatment centers ready to help you build momentum towards freedom and the kind of future you desire. You may require detox, which will help you overcome physical dependence, as well as continued treatment to address any psychological issues. Reach out for help today. Addiction does not have to control your life anymore.