Benzodiazepine medications like Klonopin (clonazepam) are prescribed to treat panic, seizures, bipolar disorder, tremors, restless leg syndrome and more. Benzodiazepines are sometimes used for treating sleep disorders. They work by calming down and slowing some of the functions of the central nervous system. This lessens the body’s stress reaction. This reduction makes the person feel calm and relaxed. However, Klonopin is usually only prescribed in short courses of two to three weeks. This limitation is because Klonopin, like other benzodiazepines, has a high potential for addiction. People can become addicted to Klonopin both for its mellowing effect as well as the euphoric high it can produce.
Relationship Between Alcohol and Klonopin
People who struggle with Klonopin addiction commonly use it with alcohol. The combination can have mellowing effects of its own and be addictive. If you combine Klonopin with alcohol, you’ll greatly increase your health risks. One of the biggest risks of the combination is the increased potential for experiencing an overdose and death. In 2010, more than 70 percent of people who died due to benzodiazepine overdose also had alcohol in their system.
Klonopin is also commonly used alongside other drugs, especially narcotics. More than 20 percent of people who died of an opioid overdose in 2015 also tested positive for a benzodiazepine like Klonopin. The CDC recommends avoiding prescribing opioids with benzodiazepines, if possible, for this reason.
Side Effects of Mixing Klonopin with Alcohol
Klonopin is sometimes used in the treatment of alcohol addiction. This especially happens during alcohol detox to help lessen withdrawal symptoms. Under close medical supervision, it is usually safe and effective. However, using alcohol with benzodiazepines like Klonopin to get high can have serious dangers.
Addiction to each of these substances on its own can have many negative health effects, but combining the two substances can cause a host of new problems. It’s highly recommended to stop drinking alcohol if you are taking Klonopin. This recommendation is because alcohol will heighten the effects of Klonopin and vice versa. Benzodiazepines and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants that lower heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing rate. When they are mixed together, these important body functions may be harmed.
Both Klonopin and alcohol also change your mental state, making you drowsy. They can affect motor skills and coordination. This effect can increase the chances of an accident. Impaired driving, blackouts and memory loss may also result from mixing Klonopin with alcohol. Users who take Klonopin and then drink alcohol may become drunk much more quickly, potentially resulting in changes to decision-making ability. In turn, this may lead to dangerous behaviors.
Klonopin and alcohol have many side effects in common, which can worsen when you take them together. These include:
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Problems walking
It’s common for people to combine alcohol and Klonopin when they’re using the substances recreationally. Since combining the two substances increase the effects, the chances of an accidental and fatal overdose also increases. It takes a smaller amount of each substance to overdose and it is easy to overdose accidentally. Some of the common signs of Klonopin and alcohol overdose are:
- Loss of control over bodily movements
- Slurred speech
If you suspect someone has overdosed on Klonopin, with or without alcohol, you should seek emergency medical attention right away.
Dangers of Mixing Alcohol with Other Benzodiazepines
Klonopin is not the only benzodiazepine to avoid if you’ve had alcohol. All benzodiazepines have the same interaction and dangerous side effects with alcohol. Talk to your doctor if you are prescribed a benzodiazepine and are thinking about drinking alcohol. Your doctor may recommend skipping your benzodiazepine dose if you have had alcohol that day. Other benzodiazepines include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Clobazam (Onfi)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene-T)
- Diazepam (Valium, Diastat)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Midazolam (Versed)
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
There are other drugs similar in structure to benzodiazepines called sedative-hypnotics. These are used only for sleep. A lot of people call them “sleeping pills.” They have similar dangers to benzodiazepines when used with alcohol and should also be avoided with alcohol. Some common sedative hypnotics include:
Key Points: Klonopin and Alcohol
Mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines like Klonopin may increase your risk of overdose. It can also increase your risk of addiction to and dependency on the substances more quickly than using any of them on their own. It is crucial to avoid alcohol if you are taking Klonopin or other benzodiazepines.
If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol and Klonopin addiction, trained professionals at The Recovery Village can help. The Recovery Village offers many different addiction treatment options to help you lead a healthier life. Reach out to us today for more information.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” March 2018. Accessed March 25, 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Alcohol Involvement in Opioid Pain Reliever and Benzodiazepine Drug Abuse–Related Emergency Department Visits and Drug-Related Deaths — United States, 2010.” October 10, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Prevent Opioid Misuse.” October 11, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” March 2018. Accessed March 25, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Alcohol Involvement in Opioid Pain Reliever and Benzodiazepine Drug Abuse–Related Emergency Department Visits and Drug-Related Deaths — United States, 2010.” October 10, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Prevent Opioid Misuse.” October 11, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2019.