Valium (Diazepam) and Alcohol: Are They Safe to Mix?

Anxiety can be an oppressive force in your life. It’s more than experiencing a little nausea before public speaking or nervousness before a test. Anxiety can manifest because of triggers or for no discernible reason at all. Imagine feeling fear or anxiety as if there were a snake in your room but, even when the threat is gone, the panic doesn’t go away. Understandably, those that suffer from extreme anxiety attacks turn to medication to lead normal lives. The problem comes when either the drug is taken in excess or it is mixed with a different substance.

It can be debilitating when anxiety stops you from doing the things you want to do in your life. For many, anti-anxiety drugs can be extremely helpful in curbing the effects of an anxiety disorder. Medications like valium and other benzodiazepines can become a regular part of life. When that happens, it may overlap with other normal parts of life like parties and events that involve drinking. However, Valium and alcohol may not interact well with one another.

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What is Valium?

Valium is the brand name for a drug called diazepam, which is a member of the benzodiazepine (benzos) family. Benzos like diazepam typically cause calming effects that doctors and psychologists use to treat anxiety, panic disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, and insomnia. It can also be used to treat withdrawal symptoms caused by dependence on alcohol and benzodiazepines.

Valium is a long-acting drug, when taken by mouth, and can take up to 40 minutes before taking effect. It’s quickly distributed throughout the body and passes the blood-brain barrier with relative ease.

Valium is safe for most adults and may have very minimal side effects for the most part. Some may experience drowsiness, confusion, or impaired motor functions. It can be more dangerous in older adults, potentially causing amnesia, ataxia, and increased risk of fall because of reduced balance. Benzos also have a slight chance of causing paradoxical reactions, which means they may cause depression, anxiety, or panic in a small percentage of users.

However, the threat of these adverse effects grows when users mix Valium with other depressants like alcohol and the interaction that follows. It can affect the personality and health of the user in an adverse way.

Why People Mix Diazepam and AlcoholValium and Alcohol pills

For the most part, you may not realize the danger of what you’re doing. If you get anxious at social functions, you may instinctively take a Valium to help you get through the party. However, social engagements are also a typical setting for alcohol, another social lubricant. Because it may take up to forty minutes for Valium to take effect, you may be able to get to a party and have a drink before you even begin to feel its effects. Many mixers may take Valium and alcohol accidentally, not knowing the risks.

However, some users mix the two substances to take advantage of specific effects. Valium can cause a feeling of deep relaxation or euphoria and users sometimes try to enhance those effects by adding alcohol to the mix. When mixed, diazepam and alcohol may cause an enhanced buzz. Users describe the experience as more relaxing than an alcohol or benzo buzz on their own. However, it also may strengthen other side effects.

Valium and Alcohol Effects

Because Valium works on the central nervous system to calm overactive electrical impulses in the brain, it reacts poorly with depressants like alcohol, which also suppress nervous system activity. When mixed, alcohol can amplify Valium’s effects. While that may mean a better buzz or a mild high, it can also mean more extreme tranquilizing effects.

One of the most common side effects of benzodiazepines is drowsiness. When users mix diazepam with alcohol, this effect can intensify to the point of falling asleep or poor coordination. With high amounts of one or both in the combination, users may experience a blackout, a drug-induced state in which short and long term memory creation is blocked. Other side effects include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Overdose
  • Liver damage

Scientists have studied the loss of motor control and how it can affect your ability to drive. Even with small amounts of one or both substances, it made a difference. Separately, the small amounts of Valium and alcohol didn’t make a significant impact at all. However, when they were combined, driving performance suffered noticeably. Users who would usually feel comfortable driving after taking Valium would be more likely to get into a crash if introducing alcohol into their system.

Benzodiazepines have a mild cardiovascular effect that can lead to hypotension in some users. However, when alcohol is also present, it can lead to a “synergistic effect” on blood pressure, meaning that the drugs work together to intensify the effect. In some cases, diazepam can cause tachycardia or an abnormal heart rate.

Risk of Dependence

Valium and other benzos carry some risk of dependence and addiction. The risk is higher with heavier doses and extended use. However, it may also be increased when mixed with other substances. With the drugs working together, users can experience palpable effects, which play on the reward center more intensely.

Plus, if an addiction already exists, a person may be more likely to abuse benzos as well. If a person has tendencies toward alcoholism, they should avoid using Valium or other benzos. Studies show that people with other addictions are significantly more likely to abuse benzos than the general population.

Risk of Valium and Alcohol – Can It Cause Death?

In some circumstances, benzos like Valium can lead to serious medical emergencies like coma, hypotension, and overdose. Benzodiazepines can cause overdoses on their own. However, with medical attention, they typically aren’t fatal. However, benzos accounted for around 9,000 overdose deaths in 2015. Many of these are instances of benzos being mixed with other depressants like alcohol. This can be attributed to the fact that alcohol abuse can be deadly on its own, making the withdrawal from Valium and alcohol equally dangerous without medical supervision. The following symptoms can be signs of a diazepam overdose with alcohol:

  • Slow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Hypotension (low heart rate)
  • Nausea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Coma
  • Loss of consciousness

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Need Help? Call the Palm Beach Institute Today

If you experience any of these symptoms after having mixed Valium and alcohol, call emergency services immediately. If you are stuck in a pattern of benzodiazepine abuse, there is a way out. With a thorough and medically-supervised detox process and proper followup treatment methods, you can find healing and freedom from addiction at a treatment center. Call the Palm Beach Institute today at 855-534-3574 for a free consultation and to learn more about how you can get out from under addiction.

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Overdose Profile: Methadone & Xanax

There are many substances to which a person can become addicted. In fact, there are even a number of behaviors that are addictive and potentially harmful as well, including food addiction and sex addiction. However, more often than not when one speaks of addiction, he or she is referring to alcoholism or drug addiction, which are the most common and worst kinds of addiction by a significant margin. 

The reasons that chemical addictions are widely held to be so much worse than behavioral addictions includes the tendency for an individual’s addiction to have a far greater effect on more of his or her loved ones than other forms of addiction. Moreover, an addict experiences profound mental, physical, social, and even spiritual deterioration as a direct result of having become addicted to alcohol or drugs, making the disease as complex as it is dangerous.

Being such a complex disease, addiction is complicated to treat. In order to overcome addiction, an individual must pursue an avenue of recovery that best addresses his or her specific needs. In many cases, this involves completing an addiction treatment program at an alcohol or drug rehab, during which time one receives psychotherapy and counseling, participates in various group and educational sessions, and learns how to cope with stress as well as a number of other important life skills that serve to fortify one’s sobriety.

Alternately, many individuals have found success by working the Twelve Steps and attending twelve-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. There are also a number of individuals who have achieved lasting recovery in replacement therapy and methadone maintenance programs.

What Exactly is Methadone Used For?

methadone addiction

While it’s true that addiction recovery is meant to be a process that frees individuals from chemical dependence, there are actually forms of treatment that involve substituting one’s substance of choice — particularly opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers — for a pharmaceutical substance that’s administered under the close watch of physicians and nurses. The most common form of replacement therapy involves the use of methadone as the replacement drug. Methadone is a substance that’s explicitly intended for use in replacement therapist, a synthetic acyclic analog of morphine and heroin that acts on the opiate receptors in the brain.

However, the drug is effective as an opioid replacement drug because it doesn’t offer the euphoria that drug users expect from opioids and has an exceptionally long half-life, allowing individuals to dose less frequently while still avoiding withdrawals. Rather than ceasing one’s drug intake immediately and abruptly, methadone replacement allows individuals to replace heroin or painkillers with a substance that won’t make them intoxicated; the methadone will prevent individuals from experiencing withdrawals while sober.

In fact, methadone can reportedly prevent an opioid addict from experiencing withdrawals for between 24 and 36 hours after the time of dosing. The drug is known for significantly reducing cravings for heroin and opiates. Typically, this type of treatment requires an individual to visit a special facility — often referred to as a methadone clinic — once each day in the morning in order to receive a methadone dose, which will last them through the day and night until dosing again the next morning.

While it’s possible to remain in a methadone maintenance program for months or even years, a number of individuals use methadone as a stepping stone by slowly tapering down until they are free from both illicit drugs and methadone. Although it’s somewhat controversial, methadone has been hailed as been an accessible and less intimidating form of treatment while also being effective for harm reduction, particularly preventing individuals from contracting blood-borne illnesses from other drug users.

The Danger of Combining Methadone with Other Substances

Despite being beneficial when used in replacement therapies, methadone can also be dangerous. As a synthetic opioid, methadone would inevitably have a high abuse potential. When taken in doses that are in excess of what could be considered therapeutic, individuals can become intoxicated.

Moreover, methadone is known to be especially dangerous when combined with other substances, which substance abusers frequently do as layering one’s mind-altering substances can cause the substances to amplify the effects of one another and result in a more intense intoxication. For instance, it’s common for individuals to combine methadone with alcohol, marijuana, and even benzodiazepines; the latter is considered even more dangerous than other combinations.

Methadone & Xanax: A Potentially Fatal Combination

xanax and methadone combined

Of the many benzodiazepines that exist, Xanax is surely one of the most well-known and, according to a report, is the most-prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States. Although technically called alprazolam, Xanax is the recognizable trade name for the drug, which produces a calming or relaxing effect on the brain as is characteristic of benzodiazepines.

The drug is also well-known for being a moderate to strong and fast-acting medication with a relatively short half-life, making it popular among substance abusers. Additionally, it’s also been frequently combined with methadone to devastating effect. The risk comes from the way that both drugs work. The effects of methadone are typically mild and may take a while before an individual begins to feel an effect although the drug is still active in the body; meanwhile, Xanax is a strong and fast-acting sedative with dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Taking too much of either drug can cause individuals to have trouble remaining conscious in addition to respiratory depression. As such, the combination of methadone and Xanax are considered to be responsible for a high percentage of opioid-related deaths.

The Palm Beach Institute is Here to Help You Get Your Life Back

Although the disease of addiction is progressive and incurable, no addict has to continue to live in the throes of active substance abuse. There are numerous recovery options available for those in need. If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation and assessment with one of our caring recovery specialists, call the Palm Beach Institute at 1-855-534-3574 or contact us online. We are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, ready and able to help you or your loved one begin the healing journey to a life of lasting health and happiness.

Phenazepam: The New (And Dangerous) Kid On The Block

It seems with each passing day, we hear about a new drug that people are using in order to catch their next buzz or high. Whether it is on the evening news, splashed on social media or the subject of the latest YouTube video, these drugs capture the national attention and add to the worries of law enforcement, health professionals, and regular folks.

Over the past few years, drugs like marijuana, alcohol, opioids and synthetic stimulants such as bath salts and flakka have grabbed national headlines. However, there are drugs which don’t make the front page news that are just as addictive, dangerous and deadly. A new drug that is starting to make headlines is the drug phenazepam.

What is Phenazepam?

phenazepam

Phenazepam is a very potent and long-lasting drug that belongs to the benzodiazepine family, which includes more commonly known drugs such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. The drug was first developed in Russia in the 1970’s and was developed to help treat anxiety, sleep disorders and epilepsy among other conditions. In Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, phenazepam was prescribed to aid in anesthesia for surgical procedures as well as used in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

The drug, also known as bonsai supersleep or bonsai, comes in tablet form and can be taken orally or can be crushed and snorted by users. Phenazepam can also be injected intravenously and can also come in a transdermal patch which can be placed on the skin. Like other benzos, those who use the drug do so because of its’ powerful sedating qualities.

Why is Phenazepam So Dangerous?

Phenazepam is extremely potent and overdoses can easily occur when used on a recreational basis. The half-life of the drug (or the duration that users feel a drug’s effects) is 60 hours. Users of the drug feel its’ peak effects within 2 to 4 hours and then the drug starts to lose its’ effects. Since the effects of the drug take some time to kick in, users may be tempted to redose and are not aware that the high levels of the drug still remain in the body.

Those who use phenazepam, like other benzos, will mix the drug with other substances which can be extremely dangerous and deadly. Among the common drugs that are used in conjunction with phenazepam can include alcohol, other tranquilizers, and heroin. Recreational users also combine this drug with “club drugs” such as ketamine and PCP as well as with prescription painkillers such as oxycodone.

Another danger of phenazepam concerns the purity of the drug. While medical-grade phenazepam will be pure, the product that users may buy on the street may have impurities or be cut with substances or other agents that can cause damage to the heart and lungs. Additionally, phenazepam has been used to make fake Valium. People have taken what they thought was a normal Valium dose, but is, in fact, a high dose of phenazepam, and have ended up in hospital.

What Are The Side Effects And Withdrawal Symptoms?

drug withdrawal side effects

When taken as prescribed, phenazepam provides a sedative effect and allows users to experience reduced anxiety and tension. However, if misused the side effects can include hiccups, dizziness, loss of coordination and drowsiness. The drug can also make users extremely forgetful and they can experience anterograde amnesia especially in high doses. Anterograde amnesia is the inability to store new information in their short-term memory.

As with other benzodiazepines, users can experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly discontinue the use of phenazepam. These withdrawal symptoms can include the following:

  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • seizures, convulsions, and death
  • muscle spasms
  • psychosis
  • extreme sensitivity to light, smell, and touch
  • hallucinations
  • distorted body image

The Importance of Drug Treatment

As with other benzodiazepines, those who are addicted to phenazepam need to undergo residential drug treatment. Undergoing drug treatment at a specialized facility will give addicts the best chance not only of overcoming their addiction, but will also give them the best chance at long-term recovery. Before treatment can begin, however, users must first undergo medical detoxification where they are slowly weaned away from the effects of the drug while decreasing the severity of the physical and psychological symptoms associated with the withdrawal process.

For many addicts, the detox process can seem overwhelming, but it’s a necessary step in recovery. During this process, medical professionals will medically stabilize patients and work to minimize withdrawals to the point where they are substance free and symptom-free. Most importantly, detox staff will evaluate each patient for any co-occurring mental disorders which may lie at the root of their phenazepam addiction. Co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety are common in those who struggle with addiction. Those that are addicted to phenazepam may also suffer from sleep disorders. In general, the detox process can take a week or more, depending on the severity of the addiction.

Once the detox process is complete, patients transition into formal drug treatment, where they will take part in intensive counseling and therapy in order to uncover the origins of their addiction. Additionally, newly recovering addicts will learn the necessary life and coping skills needed to maintain their recovery while resuming their normal day-to-day activities and obligations. Once drug treatment is completed, it is highly recommended those new in recovery take part in aftercare programs like intensive outpatient counseling as well as continued involvement in 12 step meetings and groups. Continued support and encouragement are needed in order for newly recovering addicts to continue working their program of recovery.

Need Help With Phenazepam Addiction? Turn To PBI For Help!

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease, and if you are addicted to phenazepam or other drugs, it has severe effects on your life and your family and loved ones. For over 40 years, Palm Beach Institute has helped thousands of addicts break the chains of addiction and find hope and healing through recovery. PBI offers all clients a full continuum of care which includes medical detox services, effective drug treatment programming and aftercare options and family treatment programming that helps addicts heal in mind, body, and spirit.

Don’t wait another day. Call PBI toll-free at 1-855-534-3574 or contact us online and experience how Palm Beach Institute can change your life forever.

The Dangers of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal (And How to do It Right)

Addiction is a very indiscriminate disease, affecting virtually the entire demographic spectrum. No matter whether a person is male or female, young or old, black or white or green, he or she could develop a debilitating substance abuse problem that would ruin or end the person’s life. According to current estimates, there are 24.6 million addicts over the age of 12 in the U.S. alone, which amounts to almost ten percent of the country’s population.

Due to these alarming numbers, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is referred to the escalated rates of addiction as an epidemic, especially with regard to rates of heroin and painkiller abuse, putting into perspective the serious effects that this disease is having at both the micro and macro levels.

In addition, to there being many people who are suffering from addiction, there are also a variety of substances to which they are addicted. Although some substances are inherently more dangerous than others — for instance, cocaine is much more dangerous than marijuana — each substance comes with its own set of dangers.

In addition to being addictive, these substances cause physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual changes that cause a person to barely resemble his or her former self. Moreover, addiction is a disease that affects an addict’s loved ones almost as much as the addict him or herself, which is why it’s often referred to as “the family disease”.

If one were to ask several people to name to most addictive and dangerous drug, it’s likely that one would get several different answers since, again, each mind-altering, a chemical substance has its own specific risks. However, there’s been increasing evidence suggesting that benzodiazepines are one of the most dangerous drugs, but part of its danger actually pertains to some of its effects when a benzodiazepine addict stops taking the drug. As such, the following will define and describe benzodiazepines, explaining their specific effects and why benzodiazepine withdrawal is so dangerous.

benzo-overdose

What Exactly are Benzodiazepines?

Before the heroin epidemic that is ravaging the U.S. today, there was a serious painkiller epidemic that was a top concern of both lawmakers and citizens alike. There were vast amounts of various types of prescription medications being prescribed and over-prescribed, causing many of them to be diverted and sold to substance abusers on the streets.

Moreover, there were some states — such as Florida — that lacked a centralized database to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of dangerous controlled substances, which caused many substance abusers to make monthly trips these states, oftentimes from the other side of the country, to see several different doctors, obtain duplicate prescriptions for controlled prescription drugs, and return home with hundreds of pills that would be sold on the streets.

Most people associate the prescription pill epidemic with opiate painkillers since they were the most desired prescription medication; however, another type of medication that substance abusers sought was benzodiazepines. Different from opiates in a number of important ways, benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that target the central nervous system, causing sedating, hypnotic effects.

Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium were prescribed to patients who suffered from conditions involving anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, epileptic seizures, panic attacks, and similar conditions. However, due to their effects, benzodiazepines are also frequently used for  This type of medication worked by enhancing a particular neurotransmitter — gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short — that effectively reduced the activity of neurons in the brain that are responsible for feelings of anxiety and stress. Typically, benzodiazepines were prescribed and taken for only short periods since their effects are quite strong and they have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

What Makes Benzodiazepines so Dangerous?

Although many substance abusers consider the effects of benzodiazepines to be much less pronounced than more preferable, powerful substances like heroin and painkillers, benzodiazepines are still incredibly dangerous for a few important reasons. First, being that their effects are less pronounced than most other substances, people who abuse benzodiazepines are prone to overdosing by taking too many of them in an attempt to amplify their effects.

Additionally, substance abusers frequently take benzodiazepines with other substances, especially opiates, because layering the drugs amplifies the effects of both; again, this significantly increases one’s potential for overdosing. There are some combinations involving benzodiazepines that can very easily be lethal, including the mixing of benzodiazepines with methadone or other opioids.

However, one of the most unexpected dangers of benzodiazepines is when a person stops taking the drug. When an addict wants to overcome his or her addiction, the first step is to cease consumption and complete a detox. For a benzodiazepine addict, detoxing is one of the most dangerous phases of its abuse. Benzodiazepines were put to medicinal use due to their being so effective for altering one’s brain chemistry, but this efficacy is also what makes them dangerous.

In effect, when a medication is significantly altering one’s neurochemical levels, he or she can’t simply just stop taking the drug due to its intense physiological effects on the brain and the body becoming intensely dependent on the drug’s effects. This makes benzodiazepines quite similar to alcohol in the sense that both substances can harm addicts who cease consumption too abruptly. Without the proper precautions, there have been a number of instances of benzodiazepine withdrawal becoming fatal.

How to Mitigate the Dangers of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

In order to overcome physical benzodiazepine withdrawal without putting a person’s safety and life in jeopardy, he or she needs to complete detoxification in a medically-supervised detox program at a drug rehab that’s specifically equipped to monitor for signs of danger during this process.

Fortunately, it’s possible to detox from benzodiazepines safely, which is most often accomplished by slowly tapering the individual’s dosage rather than ceasing use all at once, or by switching the individual to weaker benzodiazepine and tapering him or her off the weaker drug. Although there are a few other, less common ways of achieving a benzo detox, these methods are considered the most effective and have the most evidence for success.

Reclaim Your Independence by Calling the Palm Beach Institute Today

While it’s true that benzodiazepines are incredibly dangerous, any other substance can be dangerous as well. It’s important for those who are addicted to mind-altering substances to get the treatments they need so that they don’t fall victim to some of the worst outcomes associated with drug use. For a free consultation with one of our recovery specialists, call the Palm Beach Institute at 855-960-5456. We’re available day or night to help you or a loved one begin the healing journey.