There are different reasons someone might mix multiple drugs or substances. They could regularly take prescription medicine and combine it with alcohol, not thinking there could be adverse side effects. Other people might combine certain substances to feel high. There is also the potential to combine two substances that shouldn’t be used together inadvertently. Whatever the reason, it’s rarely one drug that leads to overdose and fatal drug deaths. Instead, it’s much more often a combination of substances. Benzodiazepines are one class of drugs that are involved in a large number of ER visits and overdose deaths. Benzodiazepines on their own don’t put a person at high risk of overdose. When they are combined with other central nervous system depressants, that risk becomes significant. The risks of mixing benzodiazepines and opioids, as an example, are so severe there is a black box warning about it. So, what about combining Dalmane and alcohol? There are definitely risks to be aware of.
Dalmane (flurazepam) is a brand-name, prescription medication used for the treatment of insomnia. Intended only as a short-term medication, Dalman can be habit-forming and can also cause physical dependence. Dalmane is unique even among other benzos because it stays in the system for a long time. The elimination half-life can be as high as 100 hours. Dalmane also becomes more effective when it’s used multiple nights in a row. For example, someone is likely to find it more effective on night two as opposed to night one. The long half-life means Dalmane might not be the right medication for everyone. It can cause impairment and coordination problems even the next day after someone takes it.
As with other benzos, Dalmane affects GABA receptors in the brain. By improving the effectiveness of the neurotransmitter GABA, Dalmane can have a calming effect. This is because GABA is responsible for calming the overactivity in the brain leading to insomnia as well as conditions like panic disorder and anxiety. Over time, if the brain is continuously exposed to Dalmane, changes can occur. These changes can result in addiction or dependence. Alcohol has many of the same effects on the brain. Alcohol also affects GABA, which is why people may seem drowsy, relaxed or sedated when they drink.
Since both Dalmane and alcohol have similar effects, they can cause significant impairment in someone who uses them together. If someone mixes Dalmane and alcohol, they may have motor coordination problems that could lead to falls or accidents. They may be more likely to put themselves in dangerous or risky situations as well. Signs someone has mixed a benzodiazepine like Dalmane and alcohol include walking problems, slurring, poor response times and reduction in overall motor coordination. There’s an increased risk of side effects like nausea, vomiting and lethargy as well. There is no way to determine how someone will react to combining Dalmane and alcohol. That unpredictability makes it inherently risky to do so.
When someone mixes two central nervous depressants, they are more likely to overdose. The amount of alcohol required to overdose is much lower when benzodiazepines are used at the same time. If someone were to overdose on a combination of Dalmane and alcohol, it could cause respiratory depression, or they might stop breathing altogether. There can be serious brain damage as well. People who combine substances like Dalmane and alcohol are more likely to suffer from long-term physical and mental conditions. This can include damage to the organs, neurological problems and the appearance of a psychological condition, like anxiety or depression. There is never a time it would be considered safe to mix a medicine like Dalmane with alcohol. Polysubstance misuse increases the likelihood of dependence or addiction and can have a range of side effects.
A final note with Dalmane is the fact that it has such a long elimination time. What can happen with drugs that take long periods to be eliminated from the system is that someone could combine it with alcohol accidentally. For example, the half-life is around 100 hours for some people who take Dalmane. They could drink alcohol days later, not realizing there was still Dalmane in their system. This could increase their chances of adverse side effects. Dalmane also tends to accumulate in the system, so these are things to be aware of before drinking if you’ve taken Dalmane lately.
If you’re someone who struggles with polysubstance misuse, addiction or drug dependence, The Recovery Village is here and ready to talk with you. If you want to learn more, ask questions or find out specifics such as what rehab options are available, get in touch.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.