What are the Effects of Mixing Sedatives and Alcohol?

According to a publication by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), it is not unusual for people to mix medication and alcohol. The effects of mixing sedative and alcohol can be serious, mainly because both have similar side effects.

Side Effects of Sedative and Alcohol

sedative and alcohol

Sedatives are designed to induce sedation and are most commonly prescribed to reduce feelings of anxiety, irritability, and over-excitement. Sedatives are also designed for people who are having trouble sleeping. Side effects commonly reported by people who take sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, are slow reflexes, slurred speech, and poor judgment. It is not unusual for these same side effects to be experienced by people who drink more than the recommended amounts of alcohol. According to the Office of Drug and Alcohol Education, mixing sedative medication and alcohol can have serious side effects, such as extreme drowsiness and depressed pulmonary functions.

Signs of Addiction

"A person who is addicted to sedatives and alcohol may also become irritable or anxious in between doses."There are many different signs indicating an individual is addicted to sedative and alcohol, the most common one being tolerance. This is when an individual has to take more of the sedative medication and alcohol to achieve the same effects as before. A person who is addicted to sedatives and alcohol may also become irritable or anxious in between doses. Close friends and family may notice a change in personality or that the person has become obsessed with taking the drug or having a drink. Physical side effects include nausea, stomach cramps, headaches, and tremors. Individuals may also experience trouble sleeping and may lose interest in other areas of their life that were once important to them. It is often difficult for people to admit they have a problem with drugs and alcohol because they are fearful of being labeled an addict or alcoholic.

Treatment for Sedative and Alcohol Abuse


The first step for an individual seeking help for  medication and alcohol addiction is to see a doctor. The doctor will be able to evaluate the person's symptoms, as well as consider past medical history. This assessment ensures the treatment provided is suitable to the person's individual needs. While it is possible for people to stop drinking and taking sedatives on their own, they will have a greater chance of success following a structured and supervised rehabilitation program.

Treatment for addiction to sedative and alcohol may involve a medically assisted detoxification. This is when individuals are given a safe-substitute drug to replace the sedative and alcohol. This is meant to deal with the uncomfortable side effects that may occur once a person stops taking sedatives and alcohol. Anxiety, vomiting, and stomachache are all commonly experienced when a person suffering from addiction stops taking medication and drinking. Managing these symptoms helps reduce the chances of a person relapsing and going back to abusing the substances.

As with any addiction, people who are addicted to sedatives and alcohol will have a powerful psychological dependence on both. Sessions with a cognitive and behavioral therapist are designed to help individuals acknowledge and address their addiction. Teaching individuals coping strategies, as well as problem solving techniques, can help them deal with life stresses and crises in the future, without feeling the need to turn to sedatives or alcohol. Psychological therapy will also help people deal with their triggers, which are high-risk situations that could potentially encourage a person to abuse the substances again. These triggers are usually environmental and social, as many people will be used to drinking with certain people in certain places.Ongoing therapy is also recommended, as this reduces the chance of a person relapsing at some point in the future.

Because of the potentially serious side effects of mixing sedative and alcohol, many rehabilitation programs take place in a hospital or rehabilitation center. This ensures the individual has 24-hour medical supervision and care for the duration of the program.

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