Alcohol is a dangerous addition to any medication routine, and it has everything to do with how alcohol interacts with your body. Alcohol is categorized as a depressant, which means it has an effect on your body that sedates, or slows, typical body function. When this effect is combined with a medication containing various ingredients, it is often magnified and the risks it carries alone can increase exponentially.
This effect is very true when combining alcohol with Klonopin (clonazepam), a common type of sedative that is often prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and sometimes seizures. As a sedative, Klonopin can slow breathing and heartrate. Combining it with alcohol can increase this effect tenfold, leading to coma or even death.
What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a type of drug known as a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines work through interacting with neurotransmitters in your brain that can naturally produce a calming and relaxing effect. Even though your body can naturally produce this type of neurotransmitter on its own, benzodiazepines like Klonopin help make this effect stronger. This effect is made possible by the drug causing a reduction in the over-firing of nerve cells. When this over-firing is able to occur, it can cause you to have feelings of anxiousness and nervousness.
The effectiveness of Klonopin can decrease over time, which is a phenomenon known as tolerance. Tolerance is defined by a noticeable reduction in the effects normally felt from a particular drug. With benzodiazepines like Klonopin, this could be made obvious by needing to take a higher dose to feel the calming effects of the drug, or you may notice that panic attacks and anxiety seem to be coming back sooner after a typical dose than they have in the past.
Building A Tolerance To Klonopin (Clonazepam)
From a biological standpoint, tolerance can be explained further by understanding how the body responds to the artificial increase in neurotransmitters introduced by Klonopin. When benzodiazepines like Klonopin do increase these neurotransmitters, your body will respond by producing less of it naturally, as your brain will interpret this as your levels already being where they need to be. This means you will need a higher dose to reproduce the same effects you had after your first dose.
Tolerance often plays a key role in the destructive cycle of addiction, because it makes it more difficult to truly satisfy the cravings associated with benzodiazepine addiction. This cycle will inevitably lead to benzodiazepine dependency, which means your body has an actual physical dependence on drugs like Klonopin.
As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, Klonopin dependence or addiction is often characterized by one of the following:
- Continued use despite harmful effects
- Symptoms of withdrawal
- Pattern of substance abuse with drugs other than Klonopin
- Drug seeking behavior surrounding benzodiazepines
- Lying to loved ones and family members about benzodiazepine use
- Building a tolerance to Klonopin
What Are The Side Effects Of Klonopin?
Tolerance or dependence is only one of many side effects of taking Klonopin. As a sedative, Klonopin can affect individuals in different ways. In general, it is not uncommon for Klonopin to cause a shift in judgement, impair memory recall, and stir up emotions that are seemingly unwarranted. Other mental and physical side effects of Klonopin include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, vomiting
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Runny nose
- Blurry vision
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of balance, loss of coordination
- Feeling tired or exhausted all the time
This effects are often increased exponentially when another sedative-type drug is added to the mix. Alcohol, for example, can cause coordination, balance, blurry vision, dizziness, and memory recall to become more impaired than with Klonopin alone.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Klonopin?
While many prescription medications warn that you should not take alcohol in combination with the drug, it is imperative that you take this precaution seriously when it comes to Klonopin. Both alcohol and Klonopin act together and can enhance the effects of the other drug, to a level that can quickly become lethal. Both of these drugs have a depressant effect on your body, which includes your heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and mental awareness.
The most serious side effect of mixing alcohol and Klonopin is the depressant effect it has on your respiratory system. Klonopin on its own can slow breathing significantly, enough to cause dizziness and disorientation. Mixing this effect with that of alcohol can reduce breathing to a level so low that an individual can slip into a coma or worse.
Even more dangerous is the fact that when an individual does overdose on Klonopin and alcohol, it is often undetectable. It is commonly reported that individuals who suffer an overdose of this lethal combination simply ‘died in their sleep’, which is often what an overdose like this can look like. As an individual’s breathing slows along with other sedative effects of the drug, it is not uncommon for them to succumb to the drowsiness associated with Klonopin and simply stop breathing in their sleep. These tragic events can go unnoticed until it is too late.
Get Help Today
Benzodiazepine addiction is a serious illness that affects thousands of Americans each year. In fact, benzodiazepines like Klonopin account for more than 35% of all drug-related hospital visits in the United States. If you believe a loved one has been putting themselves at risk by abusing alcohol with Klonopin or other benzodiazepines, it is vitally important that they receive the help they need before anything more dangerous can happen.
Clients with a dual addiction such as alcohol and benzodiazepines see better outcomes with treatment programs that are tailored to their needs specifically. Our addiction treatment specialists are experts when it comes to matching clients to a treatment program that will be successful for their case specifically. Call today for more information, our specialists are available around the clock and your call is always confidential.
For More Information Related to “The Dangers of Abusing Alcohol with Klonopin (Clonazepam)” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From AlcoholTreatment.net:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – Mixing Alcohol With Medicines
Rx List – Klonopin (Clonazepam) Tablets
The JAMA Network – Individualized Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal
The American Journal of Psychiatry – Critical Review of Liability for Benzodiazepine Abuse Among Alcoholics