Benzo misuse is a growing issue in Colorado, and many people who are misusing it combine them with alcohol to enhance the effects. When their tolerance to alcohol increases, people may use benzos to feel a euphoric experience. 

In other cases, people may mix them simply because they’re taking benzodiazepines for anxiety and choosing to drink for social reasons. This is a common occurrence due to how widely alcohol is used as a social drug and how widely benzodiazepines are used for therapeutic reasons. 

Regardless of the reason, alcohol and benzodiazepines have additive interactions due to the way these two substances affect the body, and mixing the two should be avoided.

Risk of Overdose

Both benzos and alcohol act as depressants to the nervous system. Using both together could depress the nervous system too much and cause breathing to slow down or stop. Overdoses can easily occur when both benzos and alcohol are used together.

Overdoses can be fatal. If you believe an overdose is in progress, take immediate action by dialing 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Impaired Movements or Reactions

Benzos and alcohol are commonly used together in date-rape situations to make people incapable of resisting the attack. Even if they are still conscious, those who take benzos and alcohol together may not be able to move, or the motivation to resist may not be present. These impairments could cause injury in other situations as well. For instance, if your location becomes unsafe, you may not have the ability or motivation to leave.

Memory Loss

The combination of alcohol and benzos interferes with your brain’s ability to form permanent memories. Misusing these together may result in short- or long-term memory loss that may have formed during substance misuse. You may not be able to remember events that occurred, as well as how or why they occurred.

Increased Aggression, Hostility, and Irritability

Not everyone experiences these effects, but if you do, you could end up ruining relationships or even getting arrested as a result of your benzo and alcohol misuse. While you may imagine that you benefit from the high benzos and alcohol give you, your friends and family may have an entirely different view of your behavior if you treat them with hostility or become abusive toward them during your misuse.

Potentially Deadly Withdrawal Symptoms

If you become dependent on a benzo and alcohol mix, it is dangerous to detox from this combo without medical supervision. This is because withdrawal can cause seizures that could be fatal if not treated medically. These risks make the combination of alcohol and benzos dangerous even for people who try to stop their misuse.

In a recent study by The Recovery Village, those who were detoxing from polysubstance abuse were:

  • 2.14 times more likely to experience Delirium tremens (DT)
  • 2.25 times more likely to experience seizures
  • 1.60 times more likely to experience hallucinations

Know When It’s Time for Help

If you’re worried that you or a loved one are at risk due to mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol, it’s important to know when to seek help. You can get started by taking one of our free and confidential alcohol assessments:

If it’s time to seek help, contact us today. We have a long history of providing successful, caring treatment at our facilities in Palmer Lake, Colorado.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD
Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more

Hollister, L E. “Interactions between alcohol and benzodiazepines.” Recent developments in alcoholism: an official publication of the American Medical Society on Alcoholism, the Research Society on Alcoholism, and the National Council on Alcoholism, 1990. Accessed August 27, 2021.

Linnoila, M I. “Benzodiazepines and alcohol.” Journal of psychiatric research, 1990. Accessed August 27, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.