It’s not uncommon for people addicted to drugs to mix different substances. However, one of the most dangerous combinations could be Valium and alcohol. Because both substances work on GABA receptors in the brain, they feed off each other, inducing similar effects, especially when taken at high doses.
Not only does addiction to Valium or alcohol alone is dangerous, but mixing these substances increases the risk of fatal overdose. Let’s learn more about the dangers of combining Valium with alcohol and how you can treat these types of addictions.
What is Valium?
Valium, also known as diazepam, is a prescription sedative used for pre-procedural sedation. Valium comes from the benzodiazepine family, and it’s also used to treat anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, and other conditions. It increases GABA neurotransmitters’ activity and depresses the central nervous system to alleviate overactivity in the brain.
Ideally, Valium should be used in short-term periods because it’s highly addictive. Not to mention, its long-term benefits have not been demonstrated.
How Dangerous is Mixing Valium and Alcohol?
Like Valium, alcohol is also a nervous system depressant. When people mix these substances, the effects can be potentially deadly, especially because Valium has sedative effects heightened by alcohol. Some side effects of mixing Valium and alcohol include respiratory depression, vertigo, confusion, and consciousness loss. Even despite these risks, it’s estimated that about 1 in 5 people who abuse alcohol also abuse benzodiazepines.
The effects of mixing Valium and alcohol include:
- Excessive drowsiness
- Memory loss
- Slow heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory depression
- Central nervous system depression
Valium and Alcohol Overdose
Another pitfall of mixing these substances is that there is a high chance of overdosing. The greatest danger comes because there is no specific amount known to cause overdose – it all depends on the individual’s body, what else they ingested that day and their chemical composition. Contrary to popular belief, overdose doesn’t only happen after taking too much of a substance. It also occurs when someone takes the wrong combination and creates a chemical reaction that their own body can’t tolerate.
Mixing Valium and alcohol causes the nervous system to suppress and slows breathing and heart rate. Combined with drowsiness, it’s easy to see how someone could easily fall asleep and slowly stop breathing. If they are alone, there is a possibility they may never wake up.
What Would Overdose Look Like?
In studies, 3% to 41% of alcoholics in the United States state that they abuse benzodiazepines to heighten alcohol or lessen the effects of withdrawal. A Valium overdose can result in shallow breathing, loss of voluntary muscle control, sensory hallucinations, impaired thinking, and more.
Valium and Alcohol Withdrawal
When someone is dependent on a drug like Valium or a substance like alcohol, they’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using one or the other. Abusing Valium and alcohol can increase tolerance, cravings, and, consequently, withdrawal symptoms. The most common symptoms of alcohol and Valium withdrawal include:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle tremors
- Panic attacks
- Extreme confusion
- Delirium tremens
Attempting to detox from these substances without proper medical assistance can be dangerous. It’s best to go to a medically-supervised detox facility to start the detoxification process safely. Otherwise, when someone experiences withdrawal symptoms, they’re likely to go back to using the same substances, often at higher doses, to satisfy their cravings. When someone does this, it significantly increases the risk of overdose.
Valium and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Anyone mixing Valium and alcohol struggling with drug abuse needs to seek treatment at a dual diagnosis recovery center. If someone has a valid prescription for Valium, odds are they have an existing condition that requires further treatment.
Not to mention, most people won’t be on a Valium prescription for too long as these are usually very short-term prescriptions to treat a specific issue.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in creating comprehensive addiction treatment options that address every aspect of our patient’s addiction. For polysubstance addictions, we follow a strict and comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both substances simultaneously.
The first step toward recovery is detox. When people start mixing Valium and alcohol, attempting to quit independently can experience side effects that can be life-threatening. To avoid overdose and fatal withdrawal symptoms like seizures, checking into a detox rehab center is paramount. With supervision from a medical professional, recovering drug addicts can have a better chance of sobriety.
In some cases, medication-assisted therapy can help people ease the withdrawal process of benzodiazepines. Research has also found contingency management to be a practical, motivational approach for benzodiazepine addiction.
After detox, most patients will move either to an inpatient treatment program that offers structure and support 24/7. Others, mostly those with less severe addictions, might be able to choose an intensive outpatient program that provides more flexibility so that they can continue daily responsibilities like work, school, and family.
Another important aspect of treatment for polysubstance addictions is individual therapy. Usually, these sessions will use cognitive-behavioral therapy to address addictive behaviors. The idea of these therapies is to replace harmful thoughts and behaviors with more functional, healthy ones. Likewise, motivational interviewing is another therapy used to treat addiction and aims to help individuals increase the desire to change and help them engage in treatment.
Part of most drug and alcohol rehab programs incorporate group therapy sessions. The setting is meant to encourage support, a sober-friendly network, and to offer a safe space to voice struggles, concerns, and hopes. Through group therapies, patients also attend 12-step programs to continue their path to sobriety.
Unfortunately, addiction is a life-long condition. Aftercare recovery programs offer continuing support once people leave a rehab facility. Here, patients focus on building life development skills that help them integrate back into society. Most people keep working on relapse prevention coping mechanisms that allow them to sustain long-term sobriety.
Seeking Addiction Help Today
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse disorders, please contact us today. Whether that involves a complete drug and alcohol detox process, intensive outpatient treatment, or continuous aftercare support, we’ll do everything in our power to help you beat this chronic disease.
If you know someone who’s mixing alcohol and Valium or other prescription drugs, reach out to them and see if they’re ready to get help for their addiction. If you need help setting up an intervention, our addiction specialists can offer counsel and guidance.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction specialists can help you find the best treatment program for your unique needs. We don’t believe in cookie-cutter treatment plans, which is why we look at each case on an individual basis and do our absolute best to accommodate your needs to help your recovery journey.