Clonazepam (brand name Klonopin) is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine (benzo) family, and is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Alcohol, also a depressant, is an intoxicant found in distilled spirits, beer, and wine. Under no circumstances is it regarded as safe to combine the substances.
Effects of Clonazepam and Alcohol
Alcohol, when consumed alone, can produce effects, including the following:
- Slurred speech
- Mild euphoria
- Impaired coordination
- Memory loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irregular or slow breathing
- Elevated heart rate
Drinking alcohol chronically and in excess can result in adverse health complications, including liver disease, pancreatitis, arrhythmia, hypertension, and an increased risk of several types of cancer.
Clonazepam is a prescription medication and should only be used as directed by a physician. Misuse, including consuming too much or using it too frequently, can result in side effects, which may include the following:
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Memory impairment
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impaired coordination
- Loss of appetite and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
While it is possible to use either one of these substances responsibly, the two should never be used in conjunction, even when a person has a legitimate prescription for clonazepam. This is because their combined use can quickly amplify the effects of one other, which can lead to a much higher risk of overdose, hospitalization, and death.
Can You Mix Klonopin and Alcohol?
Both alcohol and clonazepam and are CNS depressants. In prescription doses of clonazepam, this property helps to reduce activity in the CNS and calm nerves, helping those who suffer from anxiety to function more normally.
However, CNS depressants used in combination can result in sedation as well as profoundly depressed respiration and heart rate. Moreover, when clonazepam and alcohol are used together, even in relatively small doses, the overall compounded effect can result in extreme drowsiness, severely impaired coordination, and an increased risk of a serious fall or injury. This effect can also mean that the person becomes unresponsive, ultimately leading to coma and death.
Depressed or labored breathing is a potentially lethal side effect of mixing alcohol and clonazepam and is an indication that the person is not receiving enough oxygen. One characteristic of a lack of oxygen is pale, clammy skin and blue tinting around the lips or under the fingernails (cyanosis). If left untreated without emergency medical assistance, the person could stop breathing altogether and die.
Recent research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2014) revealed that 38% of emergency room visits involving benzos combined with alcohol or opioids resulted in a more severe outcome, such as hospitalization and, in some cases, death.
Treating Alcohol Withdrawal with Clonazepam or Other Benzos
If a person has an alcohol use disorder and they seek treatment, a doctor may prescribe a benzodiazepine such as clonazepam to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal. Anxiety and seizures are two major symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and benzos are very effective at minimizing the risk of severe symptoms such as these. In this way, benzos can make a person’s transition away from alcoholism easier.
However, it is critical that the overseeing physician carefully supervise the patient and watch for signs of a burgeoning dependence on benzos. Each of these medications has its potential for abuse, and the development of a new dependence can be particularly dangerous if the person experiences a relapse and combines clonazepam with alcohol use.
Help for Alcohol or Clonazepam Addiction
For those who struggle with an addiction to clonazepam, alcohol, or both, it is vital to seek help as soon as possible to receive treatment before the problem gets worse. If these conditions are left untreated, the person may become more likely to use alcohol and benzos together or to use these drugs in combination with others, such as heroin and prescription opioids.
Comprehensive addiction treatment is the most effective way to treat polysubstance abuse disorders. Emotional support from therapists and peers helps clients to uncover factors that led to their substance abuse issues and develop better coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s stressors and cravings for substances.
Harmony Treatment and Wellness is dedicated to helping clients achieve abstinence. Through psychotherapy, counseling, and group support, we provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to prevent relapse and make educated decisions about their lives, health, and well-being.
We employ highly-skilled, compassionate addiction specialists who facilitate therapeutic services to clients with care and expertise. We understand that addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease and should be treated as such. We help clients without judging their past actions and, instead, foster encouragement and hope for the future.
Call us today to discuss treatment options and begin your journey to recovery! We can help you reclaim the happy and fulfilling life you deserve!