Polydrug use, which is the use of multiple substances together, can be very dangerous. It is never safe to mix any two drugs, and in some cases, the interaction between the two drugs can be deadly. Unfortunately, polydrug use is a common practice, especially in the U.S. What makes this practice popular is that one drug can significantly intensify the other drug’s effects. If the intent of using one drug was getting a pleasurable high, then adding a second drug can intensify the high. One of the most popular combinations is Klonopin and alcohol. Klonopin falls under the benzodiazepine family of drugs.
Benzodiazepines are primarily used as prescription drugs to treat mental health disorders like panic, seizures and anxiety. On their own, benzodiazepines carry a high risk of developing drug dependence. Besides being one of the most prescribed drugs in America, benzodiazepines are also among the country’s most misused drugs. Like many other medications, it is never wise to take alcohol while on a benzodiazepine medication. Most documentation on many medications advises against the consumption of alcohol while taking the drugs. There are many reasons for this. Alcohol is a well-known psychoactive substance that is proven to have profound effects on your mental and physical health.
Alcohol is also known to interact with medications, especially those acting on the same body and mind systems. In most interaction cases, mixing alcohol with drugs like Klonopin presents more severe health risks than using one type of drug. This also holds for other psychoactive drugs. Alcohol and Klonopin act as central nervous system depressants that slow messages from the brain. This is why benzodiazepines are some of the worst drugs to mix with alcohol. Alcohol amplifies the effect of benzodiazepines on the body, creating a risk to both life and health.
Effects of Alcohol on the Brain and Body
Alcohol is one of the most abused substances in the world. For most people, a party or special event is never complete without a bit of liquor. This is because consumption of alcohol creates a sense of fun, relaxation, euphoria and decreased inhibition. These feelings are a result of how alcohol interacts with the neurotransmitters in the brain. However, these pleasurable feelings are often accompanied by a host of many other mental and physical effects. Some of these effects include:
- Heart arrhythmia
- Slowed breathing
- Suppressed cognitive abilities
- Loss of coordination and balance
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, prolonged abuse of alcohol results in issues that can easily escalate to long-lasting or even life-long health complications like heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Besides the risk of becoming addicted to alcohol, users who continue to misuse it are at more risk of suffering continued mood disorders, which may likely introduce them to benzodiazepines. Attempting to quit after long-term use of alcohol may lead to severe and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. This is why we discourage you from trying to quit alcohol on your own suddenly.
At Granite Recovery Center, we offer an alcohol rehab program that facilitates safe recovery from alcohol use disorders. Some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms include delirium tremens, which can easily cause death if not managed by an addiction treatment professional. Other withdrawal symptoms may vary in severity according to the duration and amount of the user’s drinking. Heavy and long-term use of alcohol will result in potentially more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Effects of Clonazepam Abuse
Clonazepam is the generic term for Klonopin, a psychoactive sedative commonly prescribed to treat mental health disorders like panic and seizures. Clinically, Klonopin is also used in the management of physical issues like cerebral palsy and seizures. To ensure safety in its use, Klonopin should only be administered for legitimate medical reasons. This is because it is very easy to develop a substance use disorder due to the highly addictive nature of the drug.
Like most other benzodiazepines, Klonopin works by increasing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. In most cases, Klonopin will not be prescribed as a long-term solution for mental disorders apart from cases of epileptic seizures. Most patients using clonazepam under prescription do not abuse the drug. Klonopin abusers often obtain the drugs from individuals with a prescription or professionals working in pharmacies. Doctor shopping is also a common practice among Klonopin abusers. This involves seeking out multiple prescriptions from several doctors or drug stores.
Abuse of Klonopin is taking a higher dose or taking it more frequently than what is prescribed. Clonazepam is only approved as a swallowed tablet or an orally dissolving tablet. However, some people misusing the drug may crush the tablets to snort or inject into the bloodstream. This unprescribed form of Klonopin administration can cause a host of dangerous effects, such as inflammation of local tissue while intensifying the drug’s side effects. Some of the most common side effects of Klonopin misuse include:
- Blurry vision
- Unsteady gait
- Changes in libido
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Joint and muscle ache
- Severe deterioration of memory, especially remembering the sequence in which events took place
- Increased urination
- Depression and suicidal ideation
- Dementia among aging users
- Inability to focus attention on tasks
Due to these side effects, individuals who misuse Klonopin may develop other long-term lifestyle issues like:
- Increased vulnerability to become violent
- Total neglect of professional responsibilities, leading to financial struggle and unemployment
- Increased possibility of injury in accidents or falling due to unsteady gait
Mixing Alcohol and Klonopin
Alcohol and Klonopin is one of the most dangerous drug combinations. Despite the dangers, the use of Klonopin with alcohol is prevalent. The logic behind this kind of polydrug use is that popping one Klonopin pill can make a single alcoholic drink feel like many. Its popularity can also be attributed to the common misconception that drugs prescribed by a medical professional cannot be harmful or addictive. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most individuals who misuse Klonopin and other benzodiazepines already have another primary drug of choice. Benzos like Klonopin are typically used in conjunction with other sedatives like alcohol or opioids. Klonopin is used to significantly increase the high from the other central nervous system depressants.
Central nervous system depressants are notorious for depressing the respiratory system and causing a slow pulse rate. These effects become more pronounced when the depressants are taken for extended periods. After long-term heavy use of depressants, the respiratory system may fail and cause unconsciousness. This will ultimately end up in a cardiac arrest, which may be fatal. In the polydrug use realm, mixing multiple forms of depressants is the most dangerous way to misuse drugs. Apart from the direct health risks, mixing depressants like Klonopin and alcohol has been proven to increase the likelihood of developing physical drug dependence and prolonged drug or substance abuse. Below are some of the dangers of mixing Klonopin and alcohol.
Reduced Cognitive Abilities
Reduced cognition is one of the most common dangers among individuals who use alcohol with Klonopin. Both drugs individually have reduced cognition as a side effect. When combined, this effect becomes amplified and more significant. Loss of inhibition resulting from reduced cognitive abilities can lead to suppressed reasoning ability. This may cause accidents. Another consequence of reduced cognition is a complete inability to control emotions. This is why it is extremely common for polydrug users to become aggressive and hostile. Also, mixing depressants causes impaired judgment that may lead to risky or poor decision-making.
Mixing Klonopin and alcohol enhances the side effects of both substances. The high you get from taking one alcoholic drink gets intensified when Klonopin is added. The effects of Klonopin also get amplified when taken together with alcohol. If you are used to taking alcohol, the high you get from mixing both drugs is much more robust than what you get from one of the drugs. The onset of the high may come unexpectedly and become dangerous if you are driving or engaging in another physical activity.
The most significant risk of misusing any drug is overdosing. The risk becomes higher when mixing Klonopin and alcohol. This is because Klonopin amplifies the effects of alcohol. Under the influence of Klonopin, the amount of alcohol needed to cause alcohol poisoning is significantly lower. The risk of overdosing on Klonopin also rises, which increases the likelihood of suffering a respiratory failure and partial or total organ damage. Lack of oxygen in the bloodstream may cause brain damage.
Dangerous Sudden Reactions
Polydrug use is often associated with sudden serious reactions, which can be dangerous. When mixing drugs like Klonopin and alcohol, the risk of sudden dangerous reactions is increased. Some of the common, sudden severe reactions that have occurred to people mixing depressants include suicidal tendencies, stroke, heart attack, psychosis and seizures.
Blackouts are common among individuals who mix benzodiazepines with alcohol. Blackouts are typically characterized by dangerous activities like meeting strange people, driving or walking to unfamiliar places, and never remembering any part of it. Blackouts are one of the leading causes of criminal activity, unwanted sexual activities and assaults.
Impaired Motor Skills
Mixing Klonopin and alcohol significantly reduces coordination. This, in turn, reduces reaction time, thus making certain activities like driving very dangerous. Under the influence of alcohol and Klonopin, any physical activity becomes a danger or accident in waiting.
Long-Term Health Issues
Many serious health issues can result from prolonged use of alcohol together with Klonopin. Both drugs are harmful to vital organs like the liver. Mixing the drugs, therefore, increases the likelihood of suffering liver damage. Other organs that may be harmed by combining multiple depressants include the kidney, intestines, brain and heart. Long-term mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are higher in people who abuse both alcohol and Klonopin. Apart from risks of developing cardiovascular, neurological and gastrointestinal problems, individuals who mix drugs put themselves at more risk of developing addiction and substance misuse disorders. The mixing of Klonopin and alcohol also speeds up the development of physical drug dependency.
Treatment for Klonopin and Alcohol Abuse
Integrated treatment is vital for people who abuse Klonopin and alcohol. The treatment needs to address both addictions as well as the underlying mental and behavioral conditions. We advise that individuals never try quitting their addictions “cold turkey.” This because of the withdrawal symptoms that come with ending the use of a drug. We offer professional treatment to help you or your loved one safely recover from addiction. In the case of mixing Klonopin and alcohol, we offer a dual diagnosis treatment program at Granite Recovery Center. Based on an evaluation, our trained substance abuse professionals will advise you on the best treatment options for your individual and unique needs. Our recommendation will be based on a user’s:
- Frequency of use
- Amount of use
- Risk of potential severe withdrawal symptoms
- Duration of drug use
- Motivations for misusing substances
- Motivations for quitting drug use
Our treatment programs begin with a period of detoxification, which a medical practitioner supervises. Individuals with concurrent dependence on both Klonopin and alcohol will require more attention and care than those individually abusing alcohol or Klonopin. This is because of the likelihood of developing dangerous withdrawal syndromes from cutting down on the use of both drugs. Two main treatment options include inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient treatment. Both options can be effective depending on the severity of the addiction or intake of the drugs.
Typically, inpatient rehabilitation is more effective for individuals recovering from addiction to both Klonopin and alcohol. The oversight offered under inpatient rehabilitation allows safer withdrawal from substance abuse. Our treatment programs also include social support from peers and qualified therapists. Like sober houses, inpatient rehabilitation also keeps patients away from environments and people that may trigger a relapse.