In the U.S. in 2016, about 30 million people were using a benzodiazepine, and about 7.4 percent of these people were using Valium, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It is not uncommon for people to consume alcohol with prescription drugs. Learning more about how Valium and alcohol interact can help people to make the right choice.

What is Valium?

Valium is a benzodiazepine. Doctors might prescribe it for anxiety or as a muscle relaxer. It is also sometimes used to help people who are going through acute alcohol withdrawal.

Even when taken as prescribed, the side effects of using this medication are possible.

Common side effects of Valium, according to MedlinePlus, include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite changes
  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Valium can be habit-forming, especially when it is taken long-term or in increasingly higher doses. Those who become dependent on this medicine can experience withdrawal effects when they stop taking it.

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Stomach and muscle cramps
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Seizures

The severity of the withdrawal effects depends on several factors, such as how long someone was taking the drug and the doses they were taking. If they were using other substances with Valium, this could also impact withdrawal. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can produce life-threatening effects, so it is imperative to receive medical supervision to safely withdraw from Valium or other benzos.

The Effects of Mixing Valium with Alcohol

Valium and alcohol are both depressants. To better understand how the two substances affect each other, take a look at cytochrome P450 (CYPs), a class of liver enzymes. These enzymes work for metabolism. If a substance works to inhibit a CYP, a drug that is otherwise safe can become lethal.

An isoform of CYP, referred to as CYP2C19, is involved in the metabolic fate of Valium and alcohol; however, it happens in different ways. Alcohol inhibits this CYP, and Valium is metabolized by it. So, when someone consumes both Valium and alcohol, the alcohol slows down how quickly the body can eliminate the Valium, resulting in higher blood levels of this drug, according to the American Council on Science and Health. As a result, Valium becomes more dangerous when it is combined with alcohol.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism States that the Following are Possible Effects When Someone Mixes Alcohol and Valium:

  • Breathing can become slowed or challenging.
  • The person might exhibit abnormal or unusual behaviors.
  • Drowsiness can increase and become significant.
  • The person can quickly experience impairment in their motor control.
  • The person can experience issues with their memory.

A report compiled in 2010 showed that alcohol played a role in roughly 27.2 percent of emergency room admissions for benzodiazepines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This same report showed that alcohol was involved in about 21.4 percent of the deaths related to benzodiazepines.

Is There a Safe Amount?

There is no exact answer to this question because there are many variables to consider. Both alcohol and Valium have depressant effects. Both substances can intensify the effects of the other.

Research conducted in 2016 has shown that the number of overdose deaths related to benzodiazepines has increased rapidly since 1996, according to a report published by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The overdoses are often related to people combining benzodiazepines, such as Valium, with alcohol and opioids.

The higher the dose of either or both substances, the greater the potential danger. Other factors that can increase the risk of overdose include the person’s weight, age, experience with either substance, and how their body metabolizes Valium and alcohol.

The Effects of Mixing Valium with Other Substances

Mixing Valium with any other substance may pose a danger. It is important to see how this drug interacts with others to see why health care professionals caution against mixing substances.

Cocaine and amphetamines are stimulants that someone might mix with Valium to level out their high or smooth out the stimulant crash. Tolerance to these types of drugs can happen quickly.

They can Cause These Effects:

  • Agitation
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Chest pain with palpitations
  • Abdominal cramps and vomiting
  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Skin flushing
  • Excessive sweating

Combining stimulants with Valium can affect various parts of the body, but especially the heart. This is because Valium slows down the heart while stimulants speed it up.

Marijuana and Valium both depress the body. When the drugs are combined, this can lead to increased dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, and trouble concentrating, according to Drugs.com. The interaction between the two substances is considered to be moderate. The more of each substance a person uses, the more profound the combined effects can be.

Someone might combine ecstasy with Valium. Ecstasy can cause people to experience adverse effects, such as insomnia and anxiety. Some people will use Valium or another benzodiazepine to help reduce these effects so that they can “level out.” Taking these two substances at the same time can increase the risk of an overdose. This combination may also have adverse effects on the heart.

Combining opioids with Valium can be dangerous. It is estimated that of all opioid overdoses that occur in the U.S. each year, about 30 percent of them also involve Valium and other benzodiazepines, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

When someone is using a benzodiazepine with an opioid, there is the risk of death, slowed breathing, and other serious adverse reactions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. There is a black box warning regarding this.

When someone is using a benzodiazepine with an opioid, there is the risk of death, slowed breathing, and other serious adverse reactions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. There is a black box warning regarding this.

Help for Polysubstance Abuse

Those who are struggling with abuse of or addiction to Valium should consult a professional to detox from the medicine, according to CCHR International. The same is true for stopping alcohol abuse since there is the potential for dangerous withdrawal effects referred to as delirium tremens, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Individuals should not stop taking benzodiazepines like Valium or drinking suddenly once dependence has formed. Medical detox is required for withdrawal from both substances.

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