Sleeping Pills And Alcohol: A Deadly Mix

Drugs that are relatively safe when used in isolation can become toxic when mixed with alcohol.

Over 150 prescription or over-the-counter medications have been found to potentially cause significant or lethal side effects when taken along with alcohol.

Sleeping pills, or other depressants like Xanax, are examples of drugs that should never be consumed while drinking.

What are sleeping pills?

Sleeping pills are prescribed for insomnia, and while different varieties exist, they all belong to a classification of drugs known as “psychoactives.” Like alcohol, these depressants have a calming influence because they suppress the activity of the central nervous system.

Where do sleeping pills come from?

Most types of sleeping pills—such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates and nonbenzodiazepines— are pharmaceutical drugs synthesized in laboratories. They can help with conditions at least partially ameliorated by sedatives.

How are sleeping pills used?

Intended only for short-term use, these pharmaceuticals are highly addictive. Also they tend to stop working effectively if consumed for too long. It is important to note that doctors would never approve of them being mixed with alcohol. For those who suffer from either anxiety or sleeplessness, however, the frustrating and even disabling nature of these problems often leads to an overdependence on drugs that seem to relieve troublesome symptoms, even if only for a time.

What are the signs of addiction?

Alcoholism tends to sneak up on its victims gradually, but they may start to notice they need to have a drink in order to relax or deal with stress. With pharmaceutical addictions, the user’s need to take greater and greater amounts is the most telling sign. Mixed with alcohol, the drugs symptoms intensify and a symbiotic addiction can develop quite easily.

When the consumption of alcohol and Xanax or sleeping pills is getting out of control, the physical desire for both will become so strong that the addict will find they no longer have the capacity to get through the day without taking both, and they will often consume them at entirely inappropriate times. Another sign that things have reached the stage of addiction is if the need for these substances is independent of their effects; in other words, they no longer work to combat anxiety, chronic tension, depression, or insomnia, but the person with substance abuse issues continues to take pills and drink alcohol on a daily basis anyway. Finally, any attempt to stop using these chemicals will cause a true addict to experience sometimes-severe withdrawal symptoms, and they will go back to using just to relieve their extreme discomfort.

What are the consequences of abuse?

Because each work by suppressing the activity of the central nervous system, when these drugs are abused in combination, the negative side effects are magnified dramatically.

Some of the signs of overdose and/or abuse of a pharmaceutical/alcohol mix include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Mental confusion
  • Coordination problems
  • A significant drop in blood pressure, especially during sleep
  • An interruption of the involuntary breathing reflex during sleep
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks

Abuse of this kind of chemical cocktail can ultimately lead to coma, brain damage, or worse—several thousand people have died over the past few decades from a fatal mixture of pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

When to seek help

Your body is in deep distress when any of the above symptoms result from an alcohol and pharmaceutical mix. A trip to the hospital emergency room is in order for anyone who has been taking these substances frequently and is beginning to manifest any of these physical and/or mental changes.

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Brought to you by Elements Behavioral Health

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