To many people, there are only two kinds of drinkers, those who drink in moderation and alcoholics. However, this is not an accurate representation. According to alcohol researchers, there is a broad spectrum of alcohol abuse.
Because alcohol can affect each individual differently, it can be hard to define what “too much alcohol” is for the general population, hence the widely varied guidelines for recommended alcohol consumption.
Even clinicians may give their patients staggeringly different rules of thumb when it comes to how much alcohol they should consume. Some suggest limiting alcohol intake to three glasses a day. Others advise the 1-2-3 rule (one drink a day, no more than two at once, no more than three times a week), while some may merely state to consume alcohol “in moderation.”
One person’s definition of moderate alcohol consumption may be very different from others, and as many as one in three American adults drink excessively, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, how much alcohol is too much to drink in a week’s time?
Consuming seven or more drinks per week is considered excessive or heavy drinking for women, and 15 drinks or more per week is deemed to be excessive or heavy drinking for men.
A standard drink, as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is equivalent to:
- 12 fl oz. of beer (at five percent alcohol content)
- 8-9 fl oz. of malt liquor (at seven percent alcohol content)
- 5 fl oz. of table wine (at 12 percent alcohol content)
- 1.5 fl oz or a shot of 80-proof distilled spirits (at 40 percent alcohol content)
Why Alcohol Affects Men And Women Differently
Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently than men. Women’s bodies are typically smaller, so they have less body water and a higher liver-to-lean-body-mass ratio. These two factors allow them to reach peak blood alcohol levels faster and to break down alcohol at a faster rate than most men, which is why their weekly alcohol limit is so much lower.
Research also suggests that women may be more vulnerable to alcohol-related organ damage than men. However, men are more likely to become dependent on alcohol than women.
Other factors which can affect the rate at which someone’s body processes alcohol can include:
- Body Weight: An individual’s body weight determines the amount of space alcohol has to diffuse within their body. In general, the more someone weighs, the lower his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level will be, compared to individuals who weigh less but drink the same amount.
- Other Medications: Other drugs and medications may have adverse effects or unpredictable interactions when combined with alcohol. In some cases, other substances may increase the effects of alcohol or cause fatal interactions.
- Eating Before Or While They Drink: When someone eats before or while they drink alcohol it can slow down their body’s ability to process alcohol. When someone drinks on an empty stomach, alcohol can irritate the digestive system and cause more rapid alcohol absorption.
Health Risks Associated With Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much, whether on a single occasion or every week, can take a serious toll on someone’s overall health. Alcohol can affect every organ in the body. It is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that is rapidly absorbed by the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. The intensity of the effects of alcohol on the body is directly related to the amount consumed.
There are many health risks associated with excess alcohol consumption, which can include:
Liver And Pancreas Damage:
Heavy drinking can cause a lot of potential damage to the liver because this is where alcohol is metabolized. However, the liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, leaving excess alcohol to circulate throughout the body. Alcohol-related liver damage can lead to steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis (liver inflammation), fibrosis, and cirrhosis (liver scarring).
Alcohol consumption can also cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances that may eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
Alcohol can disrupt the communication pathways in the brain and can affect the way the brain functions. The disruptions to the communication pathways in the brain may result in sudden changes in mood or behavior, and make it harder to think clearly or move with coordination.
Over time, drinking too much on a weekly basis may cause permanent damage or changes to the physical structures in the brain.
Individuals who consume more than the recommended amount of alcohol per week can damage their heart, causing problems such as:
- cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscles)
- arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
- high blood pressure
Increased Risk For Certain Cancers:
Regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol can also increase an individual’s risk of developing certain cancers, including mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast cancers. Because the most common way to consume alcohol is to drink it, the parts of the body the alcohol comes into contact with most are often the most susceptible.
Immune System Failure:
Excessive weekly drinking can weaken an individual’s immune system, making their body much more susceptible to other diseases. Chronic drinking is more likely to expose people to diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, compared to people who abstain from drinking. Even drinking a lot on a single occasion can slow the body’s ability to ward off infections—up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
When Does Drinking Too Much Become An Addiction?
Excessive drinking does not always mean someone has a severe alcohol use disorder (AUD). In fact, about 90 percent of people who drink excessively would not likely meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
Severe alcohol use disorders, also known as alcohol dependence or alcoholism, is a chronic disease. Some signs of a severe alcohol use disorder can include:
- inability to limit drinking
- continuing to drink despite personal loss or professional problems
- needing to drink more to get the same effect
- wanting to drink so badly that it becomes impossible to think of anything else
Drinking is a problem if it causes trouble in personal relationships, school, social activities, or in how an individual thinks and feels. If someone is believed to have developed a drinking problem, it is best to consult a primary care provider or addiction specialist for more information.
Treatment Options For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
There are many treatment options for alcohol abuse and addiction. Individuals who struggle with alcohol may be able to stop on their own if they have not yet become dependent on the substance. However, those who have developed a dependence on alcohol will likely need professional help to stop drinking.
Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers combine medication-assisted treatments, such as naltrexone(Vivitrol) or disulfiram (Antabuse), and behavioral therapies like dialectical behavioral therapy to help individuals overcome their dependence on alcohol. These programs teach individuals about their addiction and how to recognize their triggers so they will be ready for life after treatment.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol’s Effects on the Body
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Drinking Levels Defined
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Alcohol and Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions
Alcohol use, especially chronic patterns of alcoholism, can trigger episodes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Certain alcohol rehab programs can help a person manage both conditions.
Alcoholism and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Alcohol addiction (alcoholism) can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to become more severe. Irritable bowel syndrome can greatly disrupt a person’s day-to-day life, causing pain, stress, low-self confidence, and emotional and mental health problems. To cope with these issues, a person with IBS may be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol. Self-medication is a frequent cause of alcohol addiction.
People with both an alcohol use disorder and irritable bowel syndrome generally have better treatment outcomes when both conditions are treated at the same time. These individuals may also be more successful in their recovery and see a greater reduction in IBS symptoms if both concerns are treated in the same program.
An individualized alcohol addiction treatment program that offers targeted, medical support for irritable bowel syndrome can help a person build a strong foundation for a healthier, sober life.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Severe, chronic gastrointestinal problems affect millions of Americans each year. For many, these potentially life-altering issues take the form of irritable bowel syndrome. It’s estimated that over one in five Americans struggles with irritable bowel syndrome, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Young people have higher odds of developing IBS than those over age 50. In addition to this, women have a two times greater chance of having IBS than do men, with two out of three IBS sufferers being women.
Commonly referred to as IBS, irritable bowel can cause major stomach problems and change the way a person has bowel movements. Previously, irritable bowel syndrome was referred to as IBS colitis, mucous colitis, nervous colon, spastic bowel, and spastic colon. Signs of IBS include:
- stomach pain
A person with IBS may have both abnormal and normal bowel movements. Abnormal bowel movements include constipation and diarrhea or a combination of both. There are three types of IBS:
- IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
- IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
- IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M)
It’s not fully understood what causes IBS, however, researchers do believe that IBS is caused by a malfunction in communication between the gut, brain, and nervous system. For this reason, IBS is considered a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder.
The Risks And Dangers Of Alcohol Abuse And Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Any amount of drinking can potentially irritate irritable bowel syndrome, however, once drinking becomes compulsive and chronic, like with alcoholism, the toll of alcohol on irritable bowel syndrome can be great.
Many people with IBS experience social struggles, as this condition can limit a person’s day-to-day routines. Additionally, moderate to severe IBS can lead to physical, emotional, economic, career, and educational challenges.
In addition to being risk factors for self-medication, alcohol abuse can cause many of these issues as well. Because of this, individuals with IBS who abuse alcohol may experience these problems more severely.
Depression and anxiety commonly occur with irritable bowel syndrome. In certain cases, living with a chronic illness can cause a mental health disorder to develop. In other cases, the stress of living with a mental illness may cause symptoms of IBS to be more severe.
Self-medicating with alcohol can cause more health problems in the long run than a person had to begin with, including alcoholism. The more a person drinks, the greater the risk of them developing a tolerance and dependence, two defining characteristics of addiction.
In addition to causing symptoms of irritable bowel, many symptoms of IBS may independently be caused by drinking alcohol, especially large amounts. This is why symptoms like diarrhea and stomach pain may occur more frequently and severely in heavy drinkers.
Irritable bowel syndrome can lead to malabsorption, that is, a person isn’t able to absorb important nutrients from their food. It can also lead to dehydration and malnourishment. All of these conditions can be caused and worsened by alcohol abuse. Individuals struggling with both IBS and alcohol addiction may experience these states more intensely, to the point they become dangerous.
Treating Alcoholism And Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Like treatment for alcohol addiction, the best treatments for irritable bowel syndrome are often integrated into nature. This means that they blend a combination of therapies to address a person’s specific health, medical, and lifestyle needs.
Examples of treatments and supports which may be offered during rehab to treat alcohol addiction and irritable bowel syndrome include:
Alternative And Complementary Therapies
Mind-body balance and wellness are important for both irritable bowel syndrome and recovery from alcohol addiction. Reducing stress can help to manage IBS symptoms while also decreasing triggers for relapse. Many programs offer an engaging array of holistic therapies, including:
- biofeedback or neurofeedback
- breathing exercises
- progressive muscle relaxation
In addition to being beneficial therapies for addiction, many of these therapies can help manage IBS symptoms.
Advanced Medical Care
During rehabilitation, many people with IBS may need medical care and symptom management while receiving treatment for their alcohol addiction. Chronic disease and illness can be a trigger for relapse. Because of this, it’s important to effectively manage symptoms of this condition during treatment so that a person can more fully focus on their recovery.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), an evidence-based psychotherapy used to treat addiction, has been shown to help reduce symptoms of IBS. In addition to this, CBT could help a person better cope with the challenges of a life with IBS.
Dual Diagnosis Care
A person with both an alcohol use and mental health disorder has a dual diagnosis (also called a co-occurring disorder). Dual diagnosis care can be especially important for a person with IBS. Treating a co-occurring disorder within the same treatment program as addiction increases the odds that a person will be successful at building a more balanced, sober life.
These programs treat various mental illnesses so that a person can better manage their symptoms. In turn, this can make it easier to cope with irritable bowel syndrome and the pressures of recovery.
Family Therapy And Support
Addiction is often referred to as a family disease due to the way it can negatively impact a family. Living with a chronic disease can be difficult on a person’s family members too. The best treatment programs offer family therapy and support programs so that the recovering individual and their family can heal and grow towards common goals together.
Medications may be used to treat alcohol addiction and irritable bowel syndrome. In the case of an alcohol use disorder, certain medications may be used during detox to manage symptoms of withdrawal. After detox, a variety of medications may be used as needed with behavioral therapies in a medication-assisted treatment program for addiction.
Gabapentin (Neurontin) and Pregabalin (Lyrica) are two non-opioid medications used to treat severe pain. Despite not being narcotic painkillers, both of these medications can still be abused. For this reason, individuals with a history of addiction should be thoroughly evaluated before any medications are prescribed.
Mindfulness And Stress Management Practices
Stress can trigger both IBS and thoughts of relapse. With this in mind, it’s critical that a person in treatment learn how to manage stress in a healthy and productive way. Stress is inevitable in life, however, personalized coping methods can help a person to handle stress and stay strong in their recovery.
Fitness And Nutrition
Many programs have gyms or fitness centers in addition to giving clients the opportunity to participate in exercise classes. Working out can help to reduce stress, which can, in turn, support better health, both in regards to IBS and recovery from alcohol addiction.
Certain foods can bring on symptoms of IBS suffers, while on the other hand, other foods may help to manage symptoms. The poor diet that often accompanies alcohol addiction can be problematic and aggravate IBS symptoms. In-house nutritional guidance can help a person to eat healthier, while also teaching them healthy eating habits they can take into their recovery.
Nutritional Supplements And Vitamins
Nutritional supplements and vitamins may be used to manage symptoms and help a person’s body heal and regain strength. Many people are B vitamin deficient after chronic alcohol consumption. Research has also shown that B vitamin deficiency may play a role in IBS.
During alcohol detoxification and treatment, many alcohol treatment programs offer B vitamin supplementation, a therapy which may support better health for IBS sufferers. Fiber (or laxatives) may also be used to help regulate a person’s bowel movements.
The best treatment programs offer meals that are tailored to a person’s specific dietary needs and restrictions. Many of these foods, like lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and grains also work to restore malnourishment caused by alcohol addiction. In addition to this, certain programs may prepare gluten-free or low FODMAP diets to help manage symptoms.
Relapse Prevention Classes
In many cases, IBS can be a lifelong disease. A chronic illness can be mentally and emotionally exhausting and very stressful. Without a solid set of sober living and relapse prevention skills, a flare of IBS could trigger a relapse.
Relapse prevention and sober living skills training helps a person to adopt coping skills that are tailored to their life. With these, a person is better able to live a healthier, alcohol-free life.
For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from AlcoholTreatment.net:
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders — Facts About IBS
Livestrong — The Relation Between IBS and a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Mayo Clinic — Irritable Bowel Syndrome
US National Library of Medicine — Cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with irritable bowel syndrome: current insights, Low intake of vitamin B6 is associated with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
Among researchers and scientists, there is a strong consensus drinking alcohol can raise your risk for cancer. However, the less alcohol you drink, the lower the risk.
Yes, alcohol abuse can raise your risk for cancer. Multiple studies have found associations between drinking alcohol and cancer. Although many people are aware of risk factors for cancer, like sun exposure or smoking, few consider America’s most popular substance may put you at risk for cancer. According to a recent survey, only one in three people see drinking as a risk factor for cancer. It’s understood the more a person drinks, the higher the risk for cancer.
Understanding Alcohol Abuse And The Risk For Cancer
Many people associate alcohol abuse with addiction, drunk driving, and other physical, social, or mental health problems. However, many people may not realize alcohol abuse also increases the risk for cancer.
Moderate drinking, which is defined as one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, contributes to the risk. The risk for heavy drinkers, which is defined as eight or more drinks a week for women and fifteen or more a week for men, is substantially higher when compared to moderate drinkers.
Among the scientific community, there is a strong consensus that alcohol abuse raises the risk for cancer. Consuming alcohol has shown to be a human carcinogen, which is defined as any substance that causes cancer. Data suggests around 3.5% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are related to alcohol.
Cancers Associated With Alcohol Abuse
Research has found distinct patterns regarding alcohol abuse and certain types of cancers. The following cancers have been linked to alcohol use:
Mouth, Throat, And Voice Box Cancer
Alcohol consumption increases the risk for cancers of the head and neck. This includes mouth (oral cavity) cancer, throat (pharynx) cancer, and voice box (larynx) cancer. Those who drink around 3.5 or more drinks a day have a 2-3x greater risk for these cancers than those who don’t drink. The risk of these cancers is further increased when a person drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes or tobacco.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of a certain esophageal cancer called esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. The alcohol-related risk for this cancer is increased if a person inherited a deficiency in an enzyme (a protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body) that metabolizes, or breaks down, alcohol.
Alcohol abuse is often the primary cause of liver cancer, also called hepatocellular carcinoma. Heavy use of alcohol on a regular basis can lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver, causing damage and potentially cancer.
Over 100 studies have examined alcohol and the risk for breast cancer. Time and time again, these studies have found drinking increases the risk. Women who drink more than three drinks a day have a higher risk for breast cancer than women who don’t drink. Even a small amount of alcohol increases the risk. Reducing the amount of alcohol a woman drinks can substantially lower the risk for breast cancer.
Colon And Rectum Cancer
Drinking alcohol slightly increases the risk for rectal and colon cancers. Studies show that people who regularly drink more than 3.5 alcoholic beverages per day have a greater risk for colorectal cancers than nondrinkers. The risk for colon and rectum cancer is modestly increased for every drink a person consumes.
Other studies have shown alcohol use may increase the risk for various cancers. Studies show mixed results and there is no definitive conclusion for these cancers. However, alcohol abuse may also increase the risk for cancers of the:
The risk for kidney cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), studies show, may actually decrease when alcohol is consumed. It’s not yet understood why this occurs.
How Does Alcohol Raise Your Risk For Cancer?
The exact process or mechanism for how alcohol increases the risk for cancer isn’t entirely understood. However, researchers have identified multiple reasons why alcohol may raise the risk, including:
- Damage to body tissues: Once consumed, alcohol is broken down, or metabolized, into a chemical called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a toxic chemical and likely human carcinogen. This chemical damages DNA and can prevent cells from repairing themselves, marking the first step towards cancer.
- Increases effects of harmful chemicals: Drinking alcohol can help harmful chemicals, like tobacco smoke, enter cells in the digestive tract. This may explain why mouth and throat cancers are more likely for those who drink and smoke compared to those who only drink or only smoke.
- Impaired absorption of nutrients: Alcohol impairs the body’s ability to absorb and break down some nutrients that are associated with the risk for cancer. These nutrients may include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, carotenoids, and vitamin B complex, which includes an essential nutrient called folate that helps cells in the body stay healthy.
- Increases estrogen levels: Alcohol increases blood levels of estrogen, a hormone related to the growth and development of breast tissue, which increases the risk for breast cancer.
- Body weight: For some people, heavy drinking can lead to weight gain. Obesity has shown to raise a person’s risk for various types of cancer.
Does The Type Of Alcohol Make A Difference?
It’s ethanol, or pure alcohol, that contributes to an increased risk for cancer. This is found in liquor, beer, wine, and other drinks. Alcoholic drinks contain different amounts of pure alcohol, but the standard drink in the U.S. is about 14 grams, or 0.6 ounces, of pure alcohol. This amount of pure alcohol is usually found in:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of liquor (a “shot”)
It’s the amount of alcohol a person drinks overtime that raises the risk for cancer, not the type of drink. Most of the evidence associated with drinking and cancer risks shows it’s ethanol, or pure alcohol, that makes the difference, not other substances found in various alcoholic drinks.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse
Although it may take years to reduce the risk of cancer caused by alcohol use, it’s important to reach out for help if someone is suffering from an alcohol problem. Heavy drinking over long periods of time can cause damage to organs such as the liver, brain, and pancreas, and may also lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
An alcohol use disorder, or the medical diagnosis for a drinking problem, is typically treated with a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. Medications can be used to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal and reduce cravings for alcohol. Therapy is effective for changing thinking and attitudes towards alcohol and developing coping skills to avoid future relapse. While you still may be exposed to cancer risks, treating an alcohol problem promotes health and well-being for a quality life worth living.
For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from AlcoholTreatment.net:
Ecstasy, also called MDMA, is commonly used along with alcohol at parties and clubs. Both a stimulant and a hallucinogen, ecstasy has an effect that somewhat counteracts the depressant nature of alcohol.
Ecstasy produces a euphoric feeling paired with intensified sensory perception, while alcohol provides a feeling of relaxation. The stimulant and depressant characteristics of these drugs are thought to balance each other, producing an overall sense of well-being.
After using ecstasy, people often experience feelings of emotional closeness, making them relate to others with greater empathy and extroversion. Ecstasy lowers a person’s inhibitions, making social interactions easier.
Ecstasy can also produce unpleasant physical effects, such as:
- jaw clenching or teeth grinding
- detachment (depersonalization)
- scattered thoughts
- restless legs
- hot flashes or chills
Alcohol has a comparable effect in reducing social anxiety and causes similar symptoms. Both substances may lead to memory loss (blackout or amnesia) if used in excess.
As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol slows the functioning of the brain and body, causing a slow reaction time. This impairs a person’s ability to perform tasks that require close attention.
Other effects that result from alcohol consumption are:
- loss of coordination and balance
- lowered inhibitions
- slurred speech
- blurred vision
When a person uses ecstasy and alcohol together, they are more likely to experience these negative effects, and several other unique consequences may arise.
When a person combines ecstasy and alcohol, their inhibitions are lowered but they do not feel as drunk. This is dangerous because it gives them the impression that they are not as impaired as they actually are. It can lead them to do irresponsible things, like driving under the influence.
Lowered inhibitions and increased feelings of emotional connection may also lead to unsafe sexual behavior, like unprotected sex with a stranger. This sort of behavior raises a person’s risk of contracting diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.
If someone doesn’t realize how drunk they are because ecstasy distorts their perception, they may continue to consume alcohol, not realizing when they’ve had enough. This not only increases the risk of unsafe behavior and blackout but also may result in alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition with symptoms like vomiting, seizures, severely slowed breathing, dangerously low body temperature, and loss of consciousness. Without medical attention, it may result in coma or death.
Overheating And Overdose
Ecstasy makes it difficult for the body to regulate temperature. When taken in high doses or in warm environments, such as a club or house filled with people, this may lead to hyperthermia (overheating). This condition can cause muscular breakdown or sodium imbalance that may result in kidney failure or brain swelling. Either result can be life-threatening.
Some people take overlapping doses to make the high last longer. This can cause the drug to build up in someone’s system. Consuming alcohol in addition to this increases the risk of hyperthermia and overdose.
Ecstasy and alcohol are both linked to dehydration. This is, in part, because of physical reactions to the substances. The surge in energy from ecstasy means more movement (and more sweat). Alcohol increases urination, ridding the body of water more quickly.
Dehydration can contribute to an unpleasant hangover. It may also cause someone to drink excessive amounts of fluids. Ecstasy causes the body to retain fluids, so too much hydration may lead to electrolyte imbalance and brain swelling. This can cause brain damage, coma, or death.
Ecstasy is often found to be laced with other substances, such as cough medicine, synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”), and cocaine. These drugs cause additional complications when combined with alcohol.
Cocaine mixed with alcohol, for example, produces a toxic substance called cocaethylene, which is extremely dangerous to the human body. Laced ecstasy poses a higher risk of overdose, as the substance may be stronger than a person expects.
Long-Term Effects Of Using Ecstasy With Alcohol
Ecstasy causes the brain to produce greater amounts of serotonin, the chemical responsible for managing mood, sleep, pain, and appetite. The drug also prevents the brain from reabsorbing this chemical, allowing a surplus that causes a surge in pleasurable feelings.
After someone takes ecstasy, their brain no longer has reserves of serotonin to keep them calm and happy. When the ecstasy wears off, they are left with extremely low serotonin levels, making them feel depressed. This may last for days after taking the drug.
Alcohol also stimulates serotonin release and increases the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which maintains calm in the brain. Long-term, heavy alcohol use decreases GABA receptors, making it difficult for the brain to self-regulate. While some people drink alcohol to reduce anxiety, it can actually harm the brain’s ability to deal with stress.
With prolonged use of both ecstasy and alcohol, a person may experience long-term cognitive impairments. This may include difficulty learning new things, creating new memories, or recalling the past. Brain damage may be reversed if a person stops using ecstasy and alcohol, but may also be permanent.
Both ecstasy and alcohol can take a toll on the heart as well and may cause high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, inflammation, and heart attack. Using these substances at the same time puts even more stress on the heart.
Treatment For Ecstasy And Alcohol Abuse
Abusing ecstasy can lead to serious health issues, especially when it is combined with alcohol. This can have potentially fatal consequences, and long-term use may cause irreversible damage. Addiction treatment programs work to address issues surrounding substance abuse and help an individual make healthier choices.
Many treatment programs deal with polysubstance abuse. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be used for alcohol addiction in combination with a variety of treatment methods, such as counseling, support groups, and behavioral therapy. The best treatment programs are customized to individual needs to ensure a complete and lasting recovery.
Be sure to check out these additional resources from AlcoholTreatment.net:
There are many dangers which can result from mixing alcohol and Serax. These substances may interact to cause very harmful effects, including feelings of depression and confusion. Individuals under the influence of alcohol and Serax may become a potential threat to themselves and others, as they will have a decreased ability to judge dangerous situations.
Mixing these substances may cause extreme suppression of the cardiovascular system, resulting in a dangerous decrease in heart and breathing rates. In fact, breathing rates may plummet so low that someone could potentially stop breathing entirely. Using alcohol and Serax at the same time can also cause irreversible damage to a person’s liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas, and brain.
Signs And Symptoms Of Mixing Alcohol And Serax (Oxazepam)
Individuals who mix alcohol with Serax may appear more intoxicated than they should for the amount of alcohol they have consumed. The combination of these substances may cause a significant decrease in an individual’s inhibitions and hand-eye coordination. When taken on its own, Serax may cause someone to seem drunk by producing side effects such as drowsiness and a shuffling walk.
Possible signs and symptoms of mixing alcohol and Serax include:
- short-term memory loss
- changes in sex drive
- slurred speech
- unusual behavior
Effects Of Mixing Serax And Alcohol
It is best to avoid drinking alcohol while taking a benzodiazepine medication such as Serax, as both substances are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, and when a person takes alcohol and Serax together, the drugs work to suppress specific brain activity and cause a sense of calm and relaxation.
Alcohol and Serax increase the production of a chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a brain chemical that regulates communications between brain cells and, in excess amounts, can inhibit or reduce the activity of nerve cells and their ability to communicate. When neural activity is slowed, it causes a sense of reduced anxiety, sedation, and intoxication.
Serax and alcohol are usually abused together to increase the potency of their side effects, often to fatal levels. Alcohol causes roughly 88,000 deaths in the U.S. per year and is the third-leading cause of death in the country, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. When mixed with benzodiazepines, these risks only increase.
Long-term abuse of alcohol and Serax can cause changes to specific brain structures and functions. These changes can lead to physical dependence and increased tolerance to both alcohol and Serax. It is important to note: individuals may experience different sensations when they mix alcohol and Serax depending on their age, tolerance to each substance, genetics, mental health, and overall physical condition.
Someone who is dependent on benzodiazepines and alcohol may need to use both drugs to feel normal, and typically cannot use one without the other. It is possible for individuals suffering from polysubstance dependence to sedatives to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop using. This is especially true when someone struggles with benzodiazepines and alcohol, as dependence on benzodiazepines can result in an increased cross-tolerance to alcohol.
How Serax Differs From Other Benzodiazepines
Serax, or oxazepam, is an active metabolite of diazepam. Chemically designed to be less potent than other benzodiazepines, a 15 mg dose of Serax is equivalent to a 0.5 mg dose of Xanax. Serax is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine with an onset of action time between two to three hours.
Often, Serax is prescribed to help alleviate anxiety, including the anxiety caused by alcohol withdrawal. This medication may also be used to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Similar to other benzodiazepines, Serax is typically only prescribed for a short time of nine weeks or less, as continued use may cause decreased effectiveness.
Alcohol And Serax Withdrawal
When dependent individuals stop using a drug, they may experience intense physical and mental symptoms, also referred to as withdrawal. The withdrawal process is a chain of symptoms that mark the discontinuation and removal of a substance from the body.
Abusing alcohol with Serax may increase tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to stop. If left unattended, both alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal can result in an increased risk of relapse and potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Possible alcohol and Serax withdrawal symptoms include:
- rapid heart rate
- nausea and vomiting
- delirium tremens
Detoxing from alcohol and benzodiazepines without proper supervision can be dangerous and is not recommended. A medically-supervised detoxification program is a safe and effective way to treat alcoholism, polysubstance dependence, and withdrawal symptoms.
Medical detox, however, is not considered to be a complete treatment for substance abuse and should be paired with behavioral therapy and further support to sustain long-term recovery.
Alcohol And Serax (Oxazepam) Addiction Treatment
On their own, alcohol and Serax are highly addictive drugs, and without assistance during the withdrawal process, they can be nearly impossible to quit. Relapse is also highly possible when a person is dependent on alcohol or Serax. For these reasons, inpatient treatment is often the best choice for individuals who want to overcome these severe addiction issues.
The individualized approach to treatment that most inpatient rehab centers use can help focus on specific steps to address alcoholism, alcohol abuse, co-occurring disorders, and polysubstance dependence according to an individual’s needs.
Reach out to a specialist at AlcoholTreatment.net to find a treatment solution today.
For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from AlcoholTreatment.net
The Dangers Of Abusing Alcohol With Xanax
The Dangers Of Mixing Ativan With Alcohol
The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Restoril (Temazepam)
Both alcohol and Restoril (temazepam) are CNS depressants. These substances slow down activity in the brain to produce feelings of calm and euphoria. While alcohol is a widely-abused legal substance, Restoril is a prescription medication used to treat sleeping problems. Combining these substances is not only dangerous but also suggests abuse, which can be treated with different therapies and medication.
Understanding The Risks Of Mixing Alcohol With Restoril
Restoril, the brand name for temazepam, belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants typically prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, and insomnia. Restoril is used to treat insomnia because it works by slowing things down in the nervous system and brain to allow sleep.
Alcohol is also a CNS depressant. Drinking alcohol is commonplace, but heavy drinking can have serious consequences. Alcohol causes intoxicating effects and can lead to abuse, addiction, and other physical and mental health issues.
Combining alcohol with another CNS depressant like Restoril (benzodiazepine) is not recommended because of the associated health risks. Drinking alcohol with Restoril can result in:
- impaired motor control
- memory problems
- slow or difficult breathing
- unusual behavior
Data and research have shown that mixing alcohol with Restoril can result in serious emergency room visits, increase the risk of overdose and death, cause memory problems, and lead to increased intoxication, all of which can be dangerous and life-threatening.
Serious Emergency Room Visits
Restoril, when combined with other drugs that depress CNS activity, like alcohol, can cause serious health complications. There is an increased risk of hospitalization when alcohol and Restoril are used together. During a seven-year period of study (2005-2011) the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimated over 27,000 emergency room visits resulted from using alcohol with benzodiazepines.
The DAWN report also found that when visits involved benzodiazepines and alcohol, the outcome was more serious in 38% of the cases, which means the patient was transferred to a hospital, another medical facility, or died from an overdose or other complications.
Increased Risk Of Overdose
The risk of overdose is increased when a person mixes alcohol with Restoril. Taking both together can result in overdosing on one or both. The amount of alcohol it normally takes to experience an overdose, which varies from person to person, is significantly reduced when they mix it with Restoril. This is also true for a dose of Restoril, as lower amounts can lead to overdose when it’s combined with alcohol.
Symptoms of an alcohol and Restoril overdose can include:
- loss of consciousness
- slow or difficult breathing
If someone is suspected of overdosing, 9-1-1 should be contacted immediately. In severe cases, and if left untreated, a person can die from mixing alcohol and Restoril. Although every person reacts differently to the interaction of alcohol and benzodiazepines, mixing these substances can result in dangerously slow breathing, which can be fatal.
Because Restoril is prescribed to treat sleeping problems, mixing it with alcohol can result in extreme amnesia or blackout. Without knowing it, people might drive, prepare food, make phone calls, or have sex. The following day, they have no recollection of the event. This can lead to risky behaviors like unprotected sex, driving while under the influence, and engaging in unsafe criminal activities.
Taking Restoril with alcohol enhances the intoxicating effects of one, or both substances. This means the effect of each substance can be more powerful than when each one is taken alone. The result is increased intoxication, which can be dangerous for various reasons.
Drinking alcohol while taking Restoril can intensify the effects of sleepiness, drowsiness, and lightheadedness. Concentrating and performing mechanical skills can be more difficult than usual. If taking Restoril, just a small amount of alcohol can lead to falls, other injuries, and greater risk when performing daily tasks like driving.
The intoxicating effects of mixing both substances can also result in an increase of side effects. These can include nausea, vomiting, unusually outgoing behavior, worsening depression, and feeling groggy or hungover the next the day.
Withdrawal And Detox
Both alcohol and Restoril can lead to dependence, which means a person will experience uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal when they stop use. Benzodiazepines and alcohol produce similar withdrawal symptoms that may include:
- elevated blood pressure and body temperature
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- uncontrollable shaking of hands and body
When symptoms are severe, a medically supervised detox program can ensure safety and comfort during the worst of withdrawal. Typically offered in medical settings or rehab centers, a detox program allows staff to administer medications to alleviate symptoms, offer support and monitor progress, and a prepare a person for further treatment. If possible, additional treatment should immediately follow a detox program for the best chances of recovery.
Treatment For Alcohol And Benzodiazepine Abuse
Drinking alcohol and taking Restoril is not only dangerous but may also suggest the person suffers from a substance use disorder (SUD). Substance use disorders are usually treated with a combination of medications and behavioral therapy.
Medications used to treat alcohol dependence include acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone. These medications are used to alleviate unpleasant symptoms, reduce cravings, and help people engage in and complete treatment. Medications are always used alongside different behavioral therapies.
Behavioral therapy, the most common form of addiction treatment, is used for addressing the issues that led to alcohol and Restoril abuse. There are many different types of behavioral therapies, but all work to change a person’s thinking and attitude towards drugs and alcohol.
Relapse is common during the recovery process and should be treated as a setback, not a failure. Treating substance abuse problems is an ongoing process that requires support, care, and a variety of professional treatments and therapies.
For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from AlcoholTreatment.net:
Using methamphetamine (meth) and alcohol together may cause dangerous side effects which can lead to hospitalization. In the final year of the Drug Abuse Warning Network, alcohol was one of the top two drugs associated with methamphetamine-related emergency department visits. One-sixth of these visits were reported to involve alcohol.
The Physical Dangers Of Polydrug Methamphetamine And Alcohol Abuse
Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. When taken alone it gives a person bursts of energy, a sense of extreme excitement, and intense euphoria. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a CNS depressant. Despite the fact that alcohol produces a sense of well-being and euphoria, it actually slows down the systems in the body that meth speeds up.
Depressants and stimulants produce opposite effects. Because of this, they often appear to “cancel out” the effects of the other when taken together. For instance, if a person is drinking and taking meth they may not feel buzzed or intoxicated as quickly as they would consuming only alcohol. This may cause them to party and binge drink for a longer period of time. It is misleading, however, to believe these substances cancel each other out.
Even if a person doesn’t feel the side effects as intensely as when the drug is used alone, the body and brain are still being adversely affected by it. In these instances, a person could binge drink at dangerous levels causing alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is an overdose which can cause coma and death. This phenomenon can go the other way, too. Alcohol could cancel out some of the stimulating properties of meth, leading a person to take more and overdose.
When using these two substances together a person may incorrectly gauge their level of alcohol intoxication and engage in risky behaviors. For example, if a person drives while intoxicated they could cause accident, injury, or death to themselves or those around them.
When a person takes these two drugs their central nervous system is being instructed to function in opposite directions simultaneously. This can cause an immense strain on a person’s cardiovascular system, possibly increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Other physical health effects include respiratory problems, complications of the organs, and meth mouth.
Certain people find that meth increases their libido. The impaired judgment caused by concurrent meth and alcohol abuse can lead to an increased number of sexual partners and greater instances of unprotected sex. These behaviors raise the risk of a person having an unwanted pregnancy or contraction a transmissible disease like HIV or hepatitis.
Using Meth And Alcohol Together Causes Mental Problems
Both of these drugs exert a very powerful effect on a person’s psychological state. Combining these substances can cause unpredictable behaviors, extremely variable moods, and even intensified symptoms of mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. Certain people may experience suicidal impulses or behaviors.
Additional dangers of combining meth and alcohol include:
- acts of violence
- violent outbursts
Individuals experiencing mental health problems and a substance use disorder have an increased chance of obtaining sobriety and improving their mental health through a dual diagnosis treatment program.
Why Do People Abuse Methamphetamine And Alcohol Together?
In situations of stimulant and depressant polydrug abuse, there are several reasons why a person mixes these drugs:
- to increase the high or euphoric state of one or both substances
- to create new sensations which neither drug alone produces
- to enable themselves to take more of one drug for longer
- to reduce the depressant effects of one drug while still maintaining its euphoric effects
- to reduce the stimulant effects of a drug if the high is too extreme
- to temper coming off of one drug
As a depressant, alcohol produces effects (like drowsiness and feelings of sedation) which certain drug abusers find undesirable. To counter this, an individual may take meth. On the other hand, if an individual feels uncomfortable by meth’s extreme, stimulating effects they may drink to reduce the high or speeded up feeling.
Due to the potency of meth, drug abusers can feel extremely edgy and out of sorts while they’re coming off a binge. Some individuals may feel anxious or experience insomnia. To calm their nerves or to help them sleep a person may begin drinking.
While these drugs can be very dangerous from their first use together, the longer a person uses them, the greater the risk. Prolonged use ups the likelihood of dependence, tolerance, addiction, and overdose.
Signs Of Methamphetamine And Alcohol Abuse
Spotting the signs of methamphetamine and alcohol abuse provides an opportunity to protect a person’s life and health. With this knowledge friends and family can intercede so that their loved one receives medical and drug treatments.
When a person abuses these drugs they may exhibit side effects of both drugs, some of which may intensify. These may include:
- acting in uncharacteristic ways
- changes in appetite
- changes in breathing (experiencing slowed and/or quickened breathing)
- changes in speech
- disturbed sleep
- problems with their coordination
- risky behaviors
- sexual disinhibition
- unconsciousness (from alcohol intoxication)
Meth is frequently smoked, snorted, or injected. To use the drug this way a person must have paraphernalia. This could include a tin foil or a glass pipe with a long stem and bulb at the end, syringes or needles, or cut-off straws.
While many meth abusers use illicit meth, such as crystal meth, others may abuse the medication version of methamphetamine, Desoxyn. Desoxyn is a stimulant medication for ADHD. Because of this, if a person can’t find meth either in the illicit or prescribed form, they may turn to another stimulant ADHD medication like Adderall or Ritalin. Abusing these medications with alcohol may produce many of the dangerous results we’ve discussed above.
The more a person uses a drug or drugs, the greater the effect on their behaviors and life. Many drug abusers push their close friends and family away and begin spending time with drug-using peers. During this time a person may also act more secretive, begin lying, or become very upset when questioned about their drug abuse.
Drug abuse can quickly cause a person’s priorities to shift. Instead of devoting time to essential responsibilities of work or family life, a person spends increasing amounts of time high or recovering from binges. This can lead to job loss, marital issues, and other difficulties at home.
Finding Better Health After Meth And Alcohol Abuse
Both meth and alcohol can forge strong addictions. Once addicted it is very difficult for a person to break these destructive patterns on their own. Without professional help a person may continue using these substances, increasing the probability of great physical and mental harm and overdose.
Individuals addicted to alcohol may need to undergo a medically-supervised detoxification prior to progressing to rehab. At this time medications may be used to reduce cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.
Addiction can change the way a person thinks and interacts with the world around them. Through therapy and counseling, a person will learn to reduce dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors so that they have a better opportunity for obtaining a sober, balanced life.
Contact AlcoholTreatment.net for more information on meth and alcohol abuse and treatment.
For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from AlcoholTreatment.net:
- Cannabis Use and Alcohol Abuse
- Dangers Of Abusing Alcohol With Crack Cocaine
- The Danger of Abusing Alcohol with Benzodiazepines
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?
One of the acutest dangers of chronic drinking arises not while under the influence of alcohol, but in its absence. Alcohol withdrawal results when an alcohol-dependent person suddenly stops drinking. The greater the consumption of alcohol on a regular basis, the greater the likelihood of withdrawal.
As a person progresses from intermittent alcohol abuse to alcoholism, their alcohol intake climbs. This is often to overcome a tolerance and/or to self-medicate distressing circumstances within their life. As the levels of consumption rise, and as addiction takes hold, a person’s body acclimates to these constant, high levels of alcohol.
When addicted, a person’s drinking becomes chronic and uncontrollable in a way which places their body and brain under immense strain. But sadly, once a physical dependency is forged, a person’s physical and mental states do not know how to function without alcohol.
Once dependent, should a person abruptly stop drinking (quitting “cold turkey”), their body and brain struggle to function without the alcohol. When this occurs symptoms of withdrawal may appear.
Heavy drinkers can experience withdrawal even after significantly decreasing the amount of alcohol they typically consume. Though some individuals can quit drinking in this manner without encountering symptoms of withdrawal, a large percentage will experience side effects.
What Are Five Signs Of Alcohol Withdrawal?
As noted by Medline Plus, these aren’t just states which can affect adults; though less common, teenagers and children can experience alcohol withdrawal as well. Symptoms of withdrawal most typically occur eight hours after a person stops drinking, though for some it may take several days before they appear. Once present, they hit their most extreme at one to three days, however, some individuals may experience symptoms for weeks.
Alcohol withdrawal isn’t just a nuisance, as some individuals dangerously believe. In addition to being uncomfortable, emotionally and mentally exhausting, and for many, incapacitating, it can also be deadly.
For all of these reasons, should you suspect that you or a loved one may soon be or are currently progressing into withdrawal, seek medical help immediately. Here are some signs which can help you to identify withdrawal, so that you can seek prompt, medical treatment, should the need arise. Keep in mind, every individual is different and may not experience every symptom.
Physical Signs Of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal will cause both internal and visible physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Some of the more physically apparent signs of withdrawal include:
- Clammy skin
- Enlarged (dilated pupils)
- Excess sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tremors (especially of the hands)
Though not always as obvious, a person may also experience appetite suppression, headaches, insomnia, and fatigue.
As a person progresses into withdrawal, their central nervous system becomes overly active. This can cause a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure (hypotension). If left untreated, blood pressure could rise to stroke-inducing levels.
Mental Signs Of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is emotionally and mentally taxing as well. Dealing with just the physical aspects of withdrawal can cause emotional strain, but on top of this, the following mental states may occur:
- Mood swings
- Vivid nightmares
Withdrawal can cause a person to feel on edge, which may result in them appearing jumpy or tense.
Hallucinations Caused By Alcohol Withdrawal
Some individuals experience altered states of reality while withdrawing. When this occurs, they may experience visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations, which means, respectively, that they see, hear, or feel things which are not really there. For example, according to “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal,” these manifestations may include:
- Visual hallucinations: Light may become too bright and colors may appear off, in a way which hurts a person’s eyes. Certain individuals see disturbing things or those which do not exist.
- Auditory hallucinations: A person may become more sensitive to sounds, to the extent they become scared or upset by them. A person may hear things which are not truly there.
- Tactile hallucinations: Withdrawal may create sensations of burning, pins and needles, itching, and/or numbness. Some people may feel bugs crawling on or just beneath their skin.
It can take one to two days before these signs present.
Seizures From Alcohol Withdrawal
Seizures most typically happen one to two days after a person stops or reduces their alcohol consumption. When a generalized seizure occurs a person may lose consciousness and develop spasms of the limbs. The aforementioned article notes that seizures may develop even when other symptoms of withdrawal are not present.
While most individuals have one or two seizures, the article asserts that “Although multiple seizures are not common, AW is one of the most common causes in the United States of status epilepticus—a medical emergency characterized by continuous, unrelenting seizures.”
During a seizure, a person could fall and strike their head, causing a head injury or brain damage. They may also breathe or aspirate their vomit into their lungs, causing them to choke or develop pneumonia.
Delirium Tremens From Alcohol Withdrawal
Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal which can be deadly. It affects approximately three to five percent of people who go into withdrawal; of this number, five to 25 percent suffer fatal complications.
Delirium tremens occurs most frequently in heavy drinkers and those who have previously withdrawn from alcohol. It is also more apt to happen if a person hasn’t eaten enough during the period in which they stop drinking.
Signs of delirium tremens include:
- Body tremors
- Cardia arrhythmias
- Delirium (severe confusion)
Delirium tremens is considered a medical emergency. The sooner you contact emergency medical support for yourself or a loved one, the sooner you can get access to life-saving treatments. In order to expedite this, if you or a loved one are dependent on alcohol, it’s critical that you understand the symptoms of delirium tremens and seek the proper treatment.
Cravings are a major symptom of withdrawal. Many individuals relapse in order to feed this sense of overwhelming need and to reduce the severity of the above symptoms. Returning to alcohol only serves to place your body and brain in continuous danger.
Treatment For Alcohol Withdrawal
For some, the symptoms of withdrawal may be mild and merely bothersome, for others they can become intolerable and debilitating, disrupting a person’s ability to function within work, the home, school, or socially. But even more frightening is that up to one in 20 people may experience them in a way which could become deadly.
The thing is before withdrawal starts, you don’t know how serious your symptoms will be. For this reason, should you or a loved one desire to quit drinking, be smart and seek help.
A medically-supervised detox is the best approach to treating withdrawal. Here, various medications, nutritional supplements, and IV fluid hydration will be utilized to keep your body and mind as comfortable, and safe, as possible. After, we suggest that you pursue inpatient drug rehab so that the behavioral and psychological components of addiction can be treated.
Protect Your Life. Get Treatment Today
If you’re considering a life free from alcohol, let us help you. With our assistance, you can create the best-individualized treatment plan for your life.
For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from AlcoholTreatment.net:
- How To Stop Drinking Alcohol
- The Different Stages Of Alcoholism
- Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol Abuse
- Does Alcohol Addiction Cause Mental Illness?
MedLine Plus — Alcohol Withdrawal, Delirium Tremens
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal
The New England Journal of Medicine — Recognition, and Management of Withdrawal Delirium (Delirium Tremens)
Mixing alcohol with Ativan can cause difficulty breathing, liver damage, and an increased risk of overdose. An individualized treatment may be the best way to help a person overcome alcohol and Ativan.
Why Mix Ativan With Alcohol?
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, or sedative, which means that as a person drinks, their brain and other related circuitry slows down causing them to relax. When a person mixes alcohol with Ativan, they increase the side-effects of each substance.
Ativan is a sedative anxiolytic, or anxiety medication, with similar effects to other drugs in its class, including Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. Ativan is a brand of lorazepam, which belongs to the drug class known as benzodiazepines.
Ativan is also a type of sedative, so when a person mixes it with alcohol, the effects of each drug are intensified. Ativan can be prescribed to help treat alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy. The danger of mixing Ativan with alcohol is that it increases the risk of alcoholic blackout, risky behavior, polysubstance dependence, and alcohol poisoning.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alcohol And Ativan Abuse
Someone who mixes Ativan with alcohol may exhibit a level of intoxication that is disproportionate to the amount of alcohol they’ve consumed. An individual struggling with alcohol and benzodiazepine abuse may have a decreased ability to judge dangerous situations, and often becomes a threat to themselves or others around them.
Mixing alcohol and Ativan may reduce a person’s functioning, inhibitions, and the combination has been used to facilitate sexual assault (also known as date rape). On its own, Ativan may cause clouded thoughts, and may cause a person to seem drunk.
The signs and symptoms of mixing alcohol and Ativan may include:
- short-term memory loss
- impaired motor control
- unsteady gait
- unusual behavior
- severe drowsiness
- coordination problems
- decreased inhibitions
- changes in sex drive or ability
- blurred vision
- slurred speech
Despite the fact that benzodiazepines generally have a lower level of abuse than drugs like alcohol, cocaine, or heroin, when misused they can quickly result in drug dependence. Ativan is among the top five most commonly abused benzodiazepines in the United States.
It isn’t always easy to determine why a loved one would use alcohol with prescription medications. Some people abuse alcohol as a way to cope with life, and when that’s no longer enough they may turn to prescription drugs as well. Knowing the signs and symptoms of alcohol and Ativan can provide the tools to get a person the help they need, and deserve.
Effects Of Mixing Ativan And Alcohol
Ativan intensifies the effects of alcohol, often to a fatal level. With an estimated 2.5 million years of potential life lost, alcohol alone is responsible for up to 88,000 deaths each year in the United States. Alcohol kills more people than any other drug, and mixing it with Ativan merely increases the risk of fatalities.
Alcohol and benzodiazepines act on some of the same areas of the brain, including the main inhibitory neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Ativan and alcohol cause the brain’s neurons to release neurotransmitters, causing sedation, reduced anxiety, and intoxication.
Concurrent Ativan and alcohol abuse does more than just increase the euphoric effect of each drug. Ativan and alcohol may also cause irreversible damage a person’s liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas, and brain.
Long-term abuse of alcohol and Ativan changes the structure and function of the brain, often causing an increased tolerance, and polysubstance dependence. Polysubstance dependence refers to the physical addiction to more than one drug. Yet alcohol and Ativan may affect each person differently based on their age, level of tolerance, genetics, mental state, and overall physical health.
A person who’s dependent on benzodiazepines and alcohol may need to use both drugs to feel normal, and rarely uses one without the other. A person suffering from a polysubstance dependence to sedatives may experience intensified withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using them.
Alcohol And Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
When a person who’s dependent on a drug stops using it, they may experience intense physical and mental symptoms known as withdrawals. Withdrawals are a chain of symptoms associated with the abrupt discontinuation, or decrease in medications and recreational drugs. Abusing Ativan with alcohol can quickly lead to an increased tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to stop. If left untreated, alcohol withdrawals can increase the chance of relapse, and may even be life-threatening.
The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and Ativan may include:
- rapid heart rate
- delirium tremens
Ativan (lorazepam) may be used in a medication-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence. Yet using alcohol during this medication-assisted treatment increases the risk of life-threatening side effects of Ativan.
Attempting to detox from alcohol withdrawal without proper supervision can be dangerous, and is not recommended. A medically-supervised detoxification (medical detox) is the safest, and most effective way to treat alcohol dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
It’s important to note that a medical detox is not considered a full treatment for polysubstance dependence, or sedative abuse, and should be paired with behavioral treatment, and further support in order to sustain long-term recovery.
Ativan And Alcohol Treatment Programs
Alcohol and Ativan are highly addictive drugs, and without help quitting the two can be close to impossible. Alcohol affects each person differently, and while some are able to simply give it up, others are not. An individualized treatment approach treats alcoholism, alcohol abuse, co-occurring disorders, and polysubstance dependence as it applies to each person’s needs.
Addiction can have environmental, psychological, physical, and spiritual factors, so a successful treatment focuses on each of these areas. A behavioral treatment at an alcohol rehabilitation center aims to help a person overcome alcohol and other drugs, and learn to live a self-directed life in recovery.
Contact AlcoholTreatment.net to find an individualized treatment program that’s right for you.
For More Information Related to ” The Dangers Of Mixing Ativan With Alcohol” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From AlcoholTreatment.net:
- The Dangers of Abusing Alcohol with Klonopin (Clonazepam)
- The Dangers Of Mixing Lunesta With Alcohol
- The Dangers Of Abusing Alcohol With Xanax
When people drink alcohol, it first passes through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract before being absorbed into the bloodstream. As alcohol passes through the GI tract, it may interfere with the function and structure of parts of the gastrointestinal tract, causing damage or increased risk for other issues.
A few possible gastrointestinal issues from alcohol use include:
- impairment to function of muscles separating the esophagus and stomach
- damage to mucosal lining of esophagus, increasing risk of esophageal cancer
- impeding secretion of gastric acids in the stomach
- impeding activity of muscles around the stomach
- development of chronic diarrhea, caused by impairment to muscle movement in small and large intestines
- stopping flow of nutrients in small intestine/increase of toxins in intestinal lining—leading to alcohol-related damage
What Is The Gastrointestinal Tract?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) explains, “the GI tract can be viewed as one continuous tube extending from the mouth to the anus…which is subdivided into different segments with specific functions.”
The gastrointestinal tract consists of a number of organs, including the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. The gastrointestinal tract is not the digestive system but part of it. The digestive system consists of the GI tract as well as other organs involved in digestion, such as the tongue, salivary glands, and gallbladder.
The ways in which alcohol affects the gastrointestinal tract can be broken down into the different segments of the GI tract through which alcohol passes: oral cavity and esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.
How Alcohol Affects The Gastrointestinal Tract
Alcohol, like many substances consumed by mouth, travels the normal route of the gastrointestinal tract before being absorbed into the bloodstream. In short, substances travel from the oral cavity (i.e., mouth) to the esophagus, on to the stomach, then to the small intestine where nutrients are gleaned, and finally to the large intestine where much of leftover waste is compacted.
Alcohol’s Effects On The Oral Cavity And Esophagus
The oral cavity and esophagus are two of the first parts of the body exposed to alcohol when a person drinks. That means alcohol has not been diluted in any way when it reaches these body parts, and the effects of alcohol are more direct.
People who drink heavily may experience mucosal injuries, such as lesions. Chronic alcohol abuse can also damage salivary glands, causing decreased production of saliva. Other effects of alcohol on the oral cavity and esophagus may include:
- inflammation of the tongue and mouth
- increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and teeth loss
- weakening of functioning of esophagus, leading to increased acid reflux and/or heartburn and decreased ability to clear the acid
- abnormal acid production
- increased incidence of mucosal defects, such as inflammation and tearing
Alcohol’s Effects On The Stomach
The NIAAA reports that, even in small doses, alcohol “can alter gastric acid secretion, induce acute gastric mucosal injury, and interfere with gastric and intestinal motility.” The stomach is the first part of the body alcohol enters after passing through the oral cavity, so it is here where alcohol is broken down with gastric acid and enzymes.
Yet alcohol can affect adequate production of gastric acid. When people drink in moderation, it is less likely for them to experience decreased gastric acid. In fact, light to moderate drinking may stimulate gastric acid production. Heavy drinking and chronic drinking are the conditions which cause a decrease in gastric acid production.
The body needs gastric acid, not only to help break down food and substances, but also to fight bacteria. Lessening the body’s ability to produce gastric acid effectively increases the chance of bacteria entering the small intestine.
How alcohol damages the gastric mucosa is unknown, but heavy alcohol use, even in a single incident, can cause inflammation and lesions in mucosa. Heavy alcohol abuse can also affect how long it takes for alcohol to pass through the stomach to the intestines (gastric motility). This can lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating.
Alcohol’s Effects On The Small Intestine
The small intestine is where most nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Alcohol can affect the absorption of certain nutrients. Alcohol can also disrupt activity of some enzymes, which are responsible for functions throughout the small intestine.
Alcohol can also cause mucosal injury to the intestine, as with the stomach. Perhaps one of the largest risks of alcohol’s effects on the small intestine is that chronic or heavy alcohol use can make the intestine more permeable (easier to penetrate).
As the intestine becomes more permeable, the person struggling with heavy drinking experiences increased risk of bacteria and harmful toxins, such as endotoxins, entering the bloodstream and liver. This can lead to liver damage, which may be caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria due to increased permeability of the intestine as well as the rapid production of bacteria resulting from this process.
Alcohol’s Effects On The Large Intestine
While previous studies on the effects of alcohol did not focus largely on effects to the large intestine, the topic is beginning to receive more attention.
Many people who struggle with chronic alcohol abuse or alcoholism (both forms of alcohol use disorder), suffer from chronic diarrhea. Alcohol abuse can affect the time it takes for contents in the intestines to travel, thus affecting the time it takes for the large intestine to compact—and get rid of—waste. These and other effects from alcohol may contribute to chronic diarrhea.
Other Health Risks Of Alcohol
The gastrointestinal tract is not the only system in the body affected by alcohol abuse. In truth, alcohol abuse, especially heavy alcohol use or alcoholism, can affect all aspects of a person’s health.
Some other health risks of long-term alcohol abuse include:
- Liver disease: Heavy, regular drinking can affect the liver’s metabolic rate, increases risk of alcoholic fatty liver disease, and can lead to long-term inflammation of the liver, or alcoholic hepatitis.
- Pancreatitis: Pancreas inflammation which may require hospitalization.
- Cancer: Heavy alcohol use increases risk of development of several types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, throat, colon, rectum, liver, stomach, larynx, and esophagus.
- Immune system: Chronic alcohol use may lead to a weakened immune system and lessened ability to fight off infection and infectious diseases.
- Vitamin deficiencies: Alcohol affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and its rate of movement of substances within intestines, so vital nutrients may not be broken down the way the body needs them to be.
- Brain damage: Alcohol interferes with the brain communication pathways, affecting mood, emotion, and bodily reactions.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse
When alcohol abuse goes untreated, it can progress into addiction, a mental reliance, or dependence, a physical reliance. If a person becomes dependent on alcohol and tries to stop use of it, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening.
A medically-assisted detoxification program can help individuals with an alcohol use disorder overcome their dependence on alcohol so they can prepare for treatment. Many inpatient alcohol treatment centers include detox programs as part of their treatments.
For the best results and to help avoid relapse, detoxification should always be followed by formal treatment, which may include counseling, behavioral therapy, and a number of other treatments as determined by individual need.
To learn more about treatment for an alcohol use disorder, contact AlcoholTreatment.net.
For More Information Related to “Gastrointestinal Issues (G.I.) From Alcohol Use” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From AlcoholTreatment.net:
- How Alcohol Abuse Affects The Heart
- Joint Pain And Muscle Pain From Alcohol Abuse
- Sexual Dysfunction and Alcoholism
- The Effect Of Alcohol Abuse On The Immune System
- The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse After A Gastric Bypass
Medical News Today—Ten Health Risks Of Chronic Heavy Drinking