What Happens When Alcohol is Mixed With a Depressant?
Combining other depressants and alcohol is a recipe for overdose. Learn about the dangers of mixing depressants and alcohol.
It may seem harmless at first. You struggle with sleep issues, so you take an Ambien or Ativan and chase it with a drink—or two. But because these drugs are depressants like alcohol, you run the risk of slowing the central nervous system too much.
For this reason, most sedatives carry a clear warning not to mix them with alcohol. Accidental overdoses often occur when someone loses track of how much they have imbibed while on a benzo. The heart rate and breathing rate can drop so low that comma or death can occur.
What Are Depressants?
Depressants are among the most widely used drugs in the world. Depressants, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, and hypnotics, slow brain activity by attaching to the neurotransmitters and increasing GABA levels. This action causes you to feel deeply relaxed and drowsy. This class of drugs also helps reduce muscle tension, and induces sleep.
Examples of depressants include:
Examples of substances with sedative effects include:
- Over the counter sleep aids.
- Allergy pills.
Effects of depressants include:
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Large pupils.
- Loss of balance or coordination.
- Memory problems.
- Slowed pulse rate.
- Reduced inhibitions.
- Slowed breathing.
- Impaired judgment.
- Impulsive actions.
- Slurred speech.
- Trouble focusing.
- Slowed reaction time.
Most depressant medications are controlled by the DEA and are classified in a range from Schedule I to Schedule IV based on their potential for misuse or addictive properties.
What Are the Most Common Sedatives?
There is a reason why depressants are so popular. The drugs provide swift effects, quickly causing a calming, relaxing effect. These are the most prescribed depressants, and which are often paired with alcohol:
Xanax. Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzo for panic attacks.
Valium. Valium is also a benzo used for anxiety.
Ativan. Ativan is a benzo used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Ambien. Ambien is a fast-acting hypnotic sedative used to induce sleep.
Vicodin. Vicodin is a pain reliever that has the effect of causing deep relaxation.
Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Pills
Alcohol on its own can present enough dangers to health and wellbeing. When coupled with other depressants, the effects that result can be quite harmful. Alcohol and pills both work on slowing the body’s systems, and:
- Can slow the breathing rate too much.
- Can slow the heartbeat too much.
- Can impede brain functions.
- Can cause brain damage.
- Can lead to coma.
- Can cause death if the person stops breathing or the heart stops beating.
But there are even more adverse effects that can result from mixing alcohol and pills. These can include:
- Accidental injuries.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Poly-drug addiction.
- Suicidal thoughts.
Signs of Overdose
Because of the potent effects of mixing depressants and alcohol, the central nervous system can become overwhelmed. When too much of these substances are in the body, it can cause a slowing in functions. This means the breathing rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate will drop.
Certain factors can affect the outcome. These include the age of the person, their hydration level, what they ate that day, their BMI, and their gender. When the levels of the depressants become toxic, an overdose occurs.
Symptoms of overdose include:
- Shallow, slowed, or stopped breathing.
- Gurgling sounds, or snoring.
- Blue-tinged lips or fingertips.
- Having hallucinations.
- Floppy limbs or muscle weakness.
- Loss of balance.
- Falling unconscious; not responsive.
- Mental confusion.
Signs of a Poly-Drug Addiction
Whether you are addicted to one drug or multiple substances, there are red flags that can alert loved ones. As the substance abuse worsens, the symptoms will begin to impact all aspects of daily life. Warning signs include:
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
- Neglecting your obligations.
- Hanging out with a different crowd.
- Excessive absences at work or school.
- Stealing money or property.
- Physical signs of addiction.
- Memory problems.
- Can’t focus.
- Mood swings.
- Angry outbursts.
- Lying about substance use.
- Withdraw from friends and family
- Lack of motivation
- Poor performance at work.
- Legal problems.
- Loss of job; money problems.
- Withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for Substance Use Disorder
Gaining control over a substance use disorder that involves depressants is crucial for avoiding overdose and death. Expert treatment can help you overcome a poly-drug addiction. Addiction treatment includes:
- Detox. A medical detox will be carefully planned, as both alcohol and benzo detox can be risky. A doctor will prescribe a taper program for the benzo or opioid. Meanwhile, the detox team watches out for adverse effects of the alcohol detox.
- Psychotherapy. Individual talk therapy sessions allow the individual to delve into past emotional pain, traumas, mental health conditions, or current stressors, and help to process and heal these using evidence-based therapies. Clients will learn how to reshape dysfunctional thought patterns so that new productive behavior patterns replace drug-seeking behaviors.
- Group therapy. Group counseling sessions are excellent opportunities to share your experiences with others who have similar challenges. This helps to foment peer support and camaraderie, which is helpful while going through addiction treatment as it makes participants feel they are not alone.
- Family group. Many rehabs include family therapy, understanding how central the family unit is to everyday functioning. These sessions help family members begin to understand each other better, to begin to heal from the pain caused by the addiction, and to learn more productive ways of relating going forward.
- Coping techniques. Rehab prepares you for recovery through classes that teach you how to avoid a relapse. Gaining new coping skills combined with relapse prevention planning is a key focal point in rehab.
- 12-step programs. Recovery meetings provide social support and the chance to make some new sober friendships.
The combination of other depressants and alcohol can lead to a fatal outcome. If you suffer from an AUD, reach out for help today.
Bodhi Addiction Treatment Center Provides Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
Bodhi Addiction Treatment is a rehab program that helps people overcome alcoholism and poly-drug use disorder. Our holistic program helps clients achieve both sobriety and mental wellness. For more details about the evidence-based program, please reach out today at (877) 328-1968.