Tag Archives: alcohol abuse

What Is A Functional Alcoholic?

The terms “high-functioning” or “functional alcoholic” describe individuals who suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD), but do not exhibit many of the common life-disrupting effects associated with alcohol abuse.

An alcohol use disorder is a treatable chronic medical disorder that causes long-term changes in the brain that impair one’s ability to control drinking despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.

In spite of internally grappling with an addiction to alcohol, they seem able to continue maintaining jobs, relationships, and general responsibilities.

Though these types of individuals might not appear to have a problem, the health complications that accompany functional alcoholism can have devastating effects over time.

In fact, the toll that substance abuse takes on a high-functioning alcoholic can be worse than it is for someone who shows telltale signs of an addiction. This is because, without external consequences to drive one to seek help, functional alcoholism continues unaddressed for much longer.

Distinguishing someone who suffers from an AUD from someone who simply has a high alcohol tolerance can be tough.

Heavy drinking is certainly one sign of an AUD–but individuals who drink heavily may not necessarily be suffering from an addiction.

Heavy alcohol consumption and addiction are closely linked, however. Prolonged heavy consumption of any substance encourages dependence upon it, and dependence is a known early step in the addiction process.

So what makes the condition of a functional alcoholic so dangerous and what are the risks?

Risks of Alcoholism

Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the country–second only to nicotine.

Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction are at the greatest risk for experiencing long-term impacts of alcohol use. Untreated, alcohol addiction can last for years, resulting in a piling up of health complications.

According to data gathered in 2013, alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the country

One of the most dangerous potential impacts of long-term alcohol use is cancer.

Multiple areas of the body develop a higher risk for cancer when alcohol is abused over long periods of time. Specifically, the:

  • mouth
  • throat
  • larynx
  • colon, and
  • liver

are some of the first to fall victim to alcohol’s effects, as these tissues interact with alcohol directly.

Cancer is not the only disease that can result from long-term alcohol use. Alcohol abuse can also wreak havoc on the body by significantly increasing one’s chances of heart disease, pneumonia, stroke, epilepsy, depression, and liver failure.

How Functional Alcoholism Develops

Habitual alcohol use is the most common way individuals develop an addiction. There are, however, some less recognizable known factors that can increase an individual’s risk of suffering from alcohol abuse.

Trauma

Research continues to show that both genetics and distressing life experiences play a significant role in a person’s vulnerability to alcohol dependence.

While the presence of trauma or alcohol abuse in the family does not mean that they will experience addiction, they are at greater risk than those who do not have these factors present.

Chronic Stress

Stress, anxiety, and mental health disorders are also factors that can influence someone to adopt high-functioning alcoholic behaviors.

Anxiety disorders and the brain's ability to deal with stress can both contribute to a higher risk of suffering from alcohol abuse

Continuous exposure to significant stress is believed to alter brain function over time. This makes the brain more vulnerable to developing disorders like anxiety. These stress-induced changes, in turn, increase the likelihood of alcohol consumption.

Family History

Another factor that can put individuals at a greater risk of addiction is their family history. Studies have shown that persons with a family history of addiction have a higher chance of developing an addiction themselves.

Extensive research has found slight differences in brain structure between those who have a family history of substance abuse versus those who do not. At a biological level, these individuals have a slightly different process for experiencing reward processes. Thus, an individual with a family history of addiction is more vulnerable to similar addictive substances.

In the case of a functioning alcoholic, knowing how to recognize the underlying signs of an alcohol addiction are crucial for deciding when to take action.

Recognizing a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Below are some key indicators that a loved one may observe about someone they suspect is living as a functional alcoholic:

How high-functioning alcoholism might think:

  • Obsessing over when they can attain the next drink
  • Craving or having strong urges to drink
  • Feeling guilt or shame about behavior while under the influence of alcohol
  • Using social events and/or access “top-shelf quality” alcohol as an excuse to drink in excess

What a high-functioning alcoholic can sound like:

  • Justifying drinking by making comparisons to people who have experienced worse problems with drinking, or severe consequences
  • They dismiss critical input or feedback about their drinking patterns.
  • Misrepresenting how often, how much, and how strong your drinks are.
  • Denying a drinking problem due to lack of external consequences (e.g. missing days at work or school)

What a functional alcoholic lifestyle may look like:

  • They are able to handle responsibilities well at home, school, and work in spite of drinking
  • Drinking is often done in a concealed or “sneaky” manner (e.g. drinking before or after an event, sneaking alcohol when at an event where it isn’t served, drinking alone, or hiding alcohol around the house)
  • Excelling in certain areas of life despite excessive alcohol use
  • They drink until they pass out/black out from alcohol consumption.
  • Drinking at socially inappropriate (e.g. lunchtime at work) or dangerous (e.g. before driving) times
  • They can drink a large amount of alcohol without appearing intoxicated.
  • Using alcohol as a reward (e.g. for not drinking for a time) or coping mechanism in stressful situations
  • Continuing to drink even if it has caused or worsened physical or mental health problems.
  • Projecting a well-groomed appearance that defies the conventional image of a drunk

How to Seek Help for a Functional Alcoholic

An AUD is one of the most common types of disorders in the country. Both short-term and long-term alcohol abuse can be severely detrimental.

Problems like drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and violence can result from high-volume alcohol use short term.

Additionally, individuals who abuse alcohol for long periods of time are at greater risk for several kinds of cancer, as well as multiple health complications in the heart, lungs, and pancreas.

A functional alcoholic is more likely to be exposed to the risks of both short- and long-term alcohol abuse. This is why it is so important to take steps to prevent discomfort–and even death–before functional alcoholism takes its toll.

There are some factors that may contribute to an individual’s vulnerability to alcohol abuse, but the truth is that anyone can develop a substance abuse disorder. However it may develop, getting help as soon as possible is crucial.

A “high-functioning alcoholic” may not appear to have a problem, but if you think a loved one is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, contact us today.

What Does Dry Drunk Syndrome Look Like?

While many associate “drunkenness” with behaviours like stumbling around, slurring words, or excessively loud speech, these tend to be telltale signs of intoxication by someone who has been drinking. Dry drunk syndrome, however, describes the emotions, thoughts and interactive nature of someone who has not consumed any alcohol, yet continues to “act” drunk.

What Is A Dry Drunk?

When a heavy drinker quits drinking, their brain must adjust to the chemical damage that alcohol has caused.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Author R.J. Solberg defined the term as “the presence of actions and attitudes that characterized the alcoholic prior to recovery.”

Dry drunk syndrome manifests as part of a broader condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). When a heavy drinker quits drinking, their brain must adjust to the chemical damage that alcohol has caused. This process can last for weeks, months, or sometimes even years.

What Is The Difference Between Dry Drunk Syndrome and PAWS?

Even though it comes from the medical community, PAWS is not an official medical diagnosis. PAWS is how the medical community describes a collection of ongoing psychological and mood-related withdrawal symptoms that may take place long after addiction detox.

PAWS often comes in waves, and can continue in cycles long after receiving treatment. Each “episode” of PAWS can last for a few days or longer. How often and for how long a person experiences these symptoms depends on a variety of factors.

The following conditions can inform or worsen PAWS:

  • Which substance(s) were the focus of the addiction
  • How long, how frequently, and how much of these substances were used
  • Emotional issues that may surface during the first year(s) of recovery
  • Co-occurring physical and/or mental health conditions
  • The type of support and treatment options provided by substance abuse recovery professionals

Whereas “PAWS” is part of medical terminology, the idiom dry drunk is more of a colloquialism specific to Alcoholics Anonymous. It was coined as a phrase by AA creators to describe the emotional “roller coaster” that those in addiction recovery may experience even after acute withdrawal symptoms have gone away.

Dry Drunk Symptoms

Dry drunk describes the emotional “roller coaster” that those in addiction recovery may experience even after acute withdrawal symptoms have gone away.

Drinking–or whatever the substance of choice may be–becomes like a security blanket for an addicted individual. Thus, when that substance is removed from their life, things can get worse before they get better. Someone experiencing dry drunk syndrome may encounter any of the following internal or external symptoms during recovery:

Mood Symptoms:

  • Irritability, frustration, or anger
  • Impatience, restlessness, or difficulty focusing
  • Depression, anxiety, and fear of relapse
  • Resentment directed toward themselves, people who can still drink, or people who want them to quit drinking
  • Distraction or boredom

Behaviour Symptoms:

  • Dishonesty
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Aggressive or impulsive behavior
  • A tendency to judge, blame, or criticize themselves harshly
  • Frustration with treatment, which may lead to skipping meetings or counseling sessions, or giving up on them entirely
  • Daydreaming or romanticizing about alcohol use or their drinking days
  • Replacing the addiction with a new vice (e.g., sex, food, and internet use)

Why Might Someone Suffer From Dry Drunk Syndrome?

Both those struggling with an addiction and their families hope that, with the addictive substance removed, everything will be “okay.” The reality, however, is that the development of every addiction is complex. Furthermore, the addiction more than likely began because the person was not “okay” to begin with.

Recovery from addiction is not just learning how to say “no” to a substance. Because of the way the brain and body have become dependent upon and altered by a substance at the chemical (including emotional and psychological) level, addiction recovery essentially means rebuilding one’s identity without it.

Some people experience sobriety the way others process loss–or even death. They have to work through accepting the change, grieve, and learn to grow beyond it. Even someone who has willingly given up the substance of an addiction may struggle to be rid of the fixation or obsession with it.

The removal of this coping crutch can feel like the physical equivalent to losing your arm on the dominant side. When you’re used to relying on one particular thing to get through life, it takes retraining of the entire body and mind to make up for what used to be “auto-pilot.”

Addiction recovery essentially means rebuilding one’s identity without a dependence on any substance.

This is how dry drunk syndrome comes into the picture. The body, mind, and emotions are having to re-learn how to process the world. Before the healing is complete, they default to the ways it became wired to in addiction.

This can make recovering individuals feel that they are “white-knuckling it” through life. Some may still have strained relationships or maintain unhealthy physical and mental habits. The good news is that, with time and a dedication to counseling and learning new ways to cope with life, recovery beyond both addiction and dry drunk syndrome is possible.

We’re Here To Help

Many recognize the need to cease addictive behaviour, and this choice is an extremely important and courageous first step. However, all too often neither the person suffering from addiction nor their loved ones realize how long the road to recovery can be–or the likelihood of setbacks.

While sobriety is a noble pursuit, dry drunk syndrome is most common for those to quit drinking on their own. Reach out to us today, and let Reflections Rehab come beside you for the long–but rewarding–road to recovery.

Benadryl and Alcohol

While most people associate drug overdoses with intentional drug abuse, common over-the-counter drugs can still pose a risk when mixed with other substances. This includes combinations such as Benadryl and alcohol. 

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine medication used to treat mild allergies caused by insect bites, poisonous plants (such as poison oak and ivy), pollen, and some allergic reactions to animals. It is an over-the-counter medicine (OTC). This means that it does not require a prescription and people don’t generally think of it as a dangerous drug. There have been some cases of teens abusing Benadryl in order to experience its sedative effects. However, there is no evidence suggesting it is an addictive drug. The danger with Benadryl and other common OTC drugs is that sometimes people forget that they have taken them and proceed to consume other substances. 

Benadryl and Alcohol

Benadryl is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, much like alcohol. CNS depressants slow down critical brain and nerve function. This depressive effect can be heightened when mixed with other depressants. Most of the time, people do not set out to mix Benadryl and alcohol. Rather, they don’t know the combination can be dangerous or simply forget they took it before drinking. Diphenhydramine’s half-life is 3.4 to 9.2 hours. In other words, if you take 10mg of Benadryl, it will take at least 3.4 hours for that amount to reduce to 5mg in your body. 

Alcohol and Benadryl: What Are the Risks?

Unintentionally mixing of two or more drugs can cause overdoses, especially if one of them is alcohol. When people take them together intentionally, it is called polysubstance abuse. The danger with Benadryl and other similar OTC drugs is that their half-lives are quite long. It can be easy to take an appropriate dose of Benadryl and forget about it later in the day when consuming alcoholic beverages. If the Benadryl and alcohol overpower the nervous system, experiencing an overdose is possible. 

Benadryl and Alcohol

Diphenhydramine Side Effects

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine have side effects that can become stronger when combined with alcohol. In general, mixing two or more drugs will enhance their negative effects. Some of Benadryl’s side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Stomach aches 
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth

Alcohol consumption poses an additional risk to people taking Benadryl. Some medications contain alcohol and should not be taken with antihistamines. These include laxatives and cough syrups. While mixing the two medications will not necessarily lead to overdose, it will likely cause intense discomfort and make the user feel as if they were drunk. Further, operating machinery or vehicles while mixing Benadryl with alcohol or another drug containing alcohol can lead to heavy impairment and could result in serious injury or death.

Benadryl for Sleep

Some people intentionally take Benadryl to help them fall asleep. This is due to the drowsiness the drug can cause, though doctors do not generally recommend it. While it is sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid, you should never take it for sleep without consulting a doctor or medical professional first. If you have trouble sleeping, it is best to consult a doctor who can then advise or prescribe the proper medication for the situation. 

Benadryl and Alcohol FAQ’s

Can you die when taking Benadryl and alcohol?

While mixing Benadryl and alcohol can lead to heavy sedation and an impared mental state, it is unlikely you will experience a fatal overdose from the mixture alone. The real risk lies in activities you might perform while impaired. Driving after taking Benadryl is never a good idea. When it is mixed with any amount of alcohol, it can pose serious driving risks. 

How long does Benadryl stay in your system?

Benadryl’s half life is 3 to 9 hours. This means the drug will typically leave the system within 24-48 hours. However, improper liver or kidney function can increase this window. There are no Benadryl drug tests, and employers will not look for it when testing for other substances. However, this does not mean it won’t be harmful to your health when not taken as directed.

Can a Benadryl and alcohol overdose cause shaking hands?

Alcohol consumption can cause an uncontrollable shaking, though this is not a common side effect. However, different people experience different reactions with Benadryl and alcohol, and all medications should be supervised when possible. Uncontrollable shaking can also mean an overdose, in which case you should seek medical attention immediately. An overdose commonly occurs when drug stimuli overwhelm the CNS, leading to critical organ failure. Since Benadryl and alcohol are both CNS depressants, it is possible to mix the two and experience an overdose at high enough levels. Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breath cessation 
  • Blue fingers or lips
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures

Benadryl and Alcohol

Getting Help

Addiction can take many forms and may not be easy to recognize at first. If you are consistently taking Benadryl or alcohol in large quantities to self-medicate for any reason, it may be time to seek help. Getting professional help can ensure that you are addressing the root causes and not just managing symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with any form of addiction, please contact us today so that we can help you on your journey to recovery.

Addiction Severity Index

Holistic treatment is one of the most successful approaches to substance abuse disorders. While treating a drug or alcohol problem at face value can have a temporary “band aid” effect, lifetime recovery is difficult or impossible without addressing its root causes. When someone dealing with addiction and their therapist both have a clear view of the problem, they can work together to reach real solutions and prevent relapses. This is where exams like the Addiction Severity Index can help.

addiction severity index

What is the Addiction Severity Index?

The Addiction Severity Index (ASI) is a popular tool that can help provide needed context for people with substance abuse issues. Therapists, medical professionals, and treatment centers use it frequently to understand their patients better. Developed in the 1980’s, it is a 45 minute to 1 hour semi-structured interview that  assesses someone’s need for treatment. Although it can help people with a variety of non-substance abuse problems – from the struggle to keep a job to  chronic family or relationship problems – it is most useful when alcohol or psychoactive drugs are in the picture. 

The ASI can help assess:

  • How seriously an addiction is affecting someone’s life
  • The root causes of substance abuse
  • Key problem areas
  • The type and length of treatment needed
  • Whether a treatment program has been successful
  • How a person can stay sober and avoid relapses after treatment

The index is generally an interview-style conversation. If the therapist asks the questions aloud and in-person, there is a better opportunity to get full and complete answers. They can also spend more time on the most important topics and answer deeper follow-up questions when necessary. The test focuses closely on substance abuse during the past 30 days, and assigns a score based on substance type and use. It also determines how the abuse has affected the person’s life and well-being. The higher the score, the greater the need for treatment.

What Kinds of Questions Does the ASI Ask?

No one’s pathway to addiction looks exactly like anyone else’s. Alcohol and drug abuse can be triggered by genetics, family history, mental health issues, dysfunctional relationships, financial status, and a host of other reasons. Since the Addiction Severity Index is meant to sketch a comprehensive picture, the interviewer asks questions about every aspect of a person’s life. Though it is scored based on the past 30 days, the questions will also cover a person’s childhood, family and relationship history, personal beliefs, and their entire substance abuse timeline. 

The index is also specific about the types of substances a person uses, the amounts, and the frequency of abuse. It’s definitions of intoxication and addiction are fairly flexible. This allows the interviewer to get a personal understanding not only of how much a person consumes, but what their “normal” is and how they understand their own behavior. 

When Do People Take the ASI?

The Addiction Severity Index interview generally takes place at the very beginning of rehabilitation. It helps therapists and patients set down groundwork and understand the best course of action. After this, the interview should be repeated every 30 days until the end of treatment. Answering the same questions on a regular basis is a reliable way to know if someone is making progress. 

Why Does the Addiction Severity Index Matter?

The ASI is helpful in a number of ways. First, it demonstrates a rough idea of how serious an addiction is, the root cause or causes, and the appropriate treatment path. It’s also extremely helpful for therapists and treatment centers. Using one standard interview as the baseline for every case helps make for better treatment. They can make sure programs are strong and single out any areas where they might be lacking.

addiction severity index

At Reflections, the ASI and holistic treatment are an important part of what we do. Our team of medical professionals and counselors conduct full psychiatric and personal evaluations as part of the admissions process. This ensures that each of our clients is in the right program and set on track for a lifetime of health and sobriety. By combining clinical treatment and holistic therapies, we provide our clients with all the tools they need to achieve a life free from addiction. For more information on our process and programs, contact us today

ETOH Abuse

ETOH is the chemical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol, and is usually synonymous with alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the world. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3% of Americans over the age of 18 have reported consuming alcohol at some point in their life. A further 26.45% of Americans engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Given the popularity of alcohol, it is not surprising how prevalent ETOH abuse is.

What is ETOH?

ETOH, or ethanol, is the main substance found in alcohol. ETOH is responsible for any alcoholic beverage’s intoxicating effects. Ethanol is able to move through your body quickly. It passes through your bloodstream and heart, eventually reaching the brain where it begins to depress the central nervous system. Here, the feel-good chemical dopamine is released and begins to attach to nerve receptors. This is one of the reasons that alcohol can be so addictive. Your body craves things that make you feel good in order to get you to repeat certain behaviors. Dopamine is released during activities such as eating, sex, or taking certain drugs.

The brain slows down when ethanol binds to glutamate, a neurotransmitter responsible for exciting neurons. By binding to the glutamate, it can no longer become active and therefore slows brain function down. Ethanol also activates the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which in turn makes you feel sleepy and calm. 

Some of the most common types of alcoholic beverages include beer, wine, and spirits. The “proof” is the standard for measuring a drink’s strenth. The United States’ preferred measuring system, the proof is double the alcohol by volume (ABV) in a drink. Whiskey, for example, is 50% alcohol by volume, and therefore 100 proof. Some beverages have such a high alcohol content (such as Everclear, which is 95% ABV, or 190 proof) that certain states restrict them.

ETOH Abuse

Why does alcohol make you drunk?

Your liver is primarily responsible for breaking down the ethanol alcohol as it enters the body. However, most livers can only process so much alcohol at a time (around one ounce of liquor per hour). Once it reaches a certain point, the liver cannot process any more alcohol. The alcohol then proceeds into the bloodstream, where it creates an intoxicating effect.

While proof or ABV plays a big role intoxication levels, many other factors can make a difference. These include age, gender, body composition, and drinking history. For example, a person with a low body fat percentage will feel alcohol’s effects more quickly than someone with more body fat. Additionally, an individual with a longer history of drinking can develop a “tolerance.” This means they will feel less than someone who has never had a drink before.

ETOH Abuse

 ETOH abuse

Long-term ETOH abuse can cause severe damage to your organs and take a toll on the body and mind. Some long-term effects of ETOH abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Brain damage
  • Liver failure/disease 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Hypertension
  • Increased risk for cancer

Another component of alcohol abuse is the increased likelihood of engaging in dangerous or reckless behavior. In the U.S. alone, drunk drivers cause approximately 1 in 3 car accidents in the United States. (These collisions kill 30 people every day.) While moderate drinking is usually safe, binge drinking or long-term dependent drinking can increase your chances of death.

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

ETOH Abuse

Age, gender and body composition all help determine how long alcohol’s effects will last. It can usually be detected in the body for some time after the effects wear off.

Treatment

Another component of alcohol abuse is mental health. Most alcohol treatment groups and centers spend a great deal of time treating mental health issues. Mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety are often a major reason why people start drinking. While the problem is difficult, it is not impossible to overcome. As with many addictions, seeking professional help gives you the best chance of reaching lifetime recovery. Instead of just managing substance abuse symptoms, an addiction specialist will try to diagnose and treat the root cause. It is also important to have close circles of support, such as AA groups, to encourage sobriety. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, please contact us today.

Klonopin and Alcohol

Recreational drug users will often mix a substance with alcohol to enhance the effects of the drugs for an overall better high. Whether or not the mixing was intentional, combining any drug with alcohol can have dire consequences. Klonopin and alcohol are substances where there is frequent misuse and abuse. Many fail to realize the dangers in the combination.

What is Klonopin?

Klonopin is the brand name for Clonazepam. It is a benzodiazepine primarily in use to treat certain seizure and panic disorders in adults and children. It can also help relieve anxiety, relieve muscle spasms and help with sleep which are attributes of its benzodiazepine properties. Klonopin works by increasing the effects of the Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter which essentially slows brain and nerve function. 

What is a benzodiazepine?

Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are one of the most prescribed medications in the United States and help treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures and panic attacks in patients. It can be broadly described as a central nervous system depressant. Given that nearly 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety, it is no wonder why the drug is so popular. Unfortunately, as with any popular drug, comes the issue of abuse and increase in illicit availability. Some popular benzos include Xanax and Valium which are known to be addictive drugs especially when some users take benzos in order to achieve a recreational, euphoric high.

klonopin and alcohol

Benzos have a variety of side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Impaired coordination
  • Vision problems
  • Grogginess
  • Feelings of depression
  • Headache

In addition, Klonopin has other side effects such as:

  • Depression
  • Loss of orientation
  • Sleep issues
  • Problems with thinking 
  • Memory problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Diarrhea and constipation

How long does Klonopin stay in your system?

Clonazepam has a uniquely long half-life when compared with that of other drugs at around 20-50 hours. The half-life of a drug refers to the amount of time it takes for the drug to reduce to half of its originally taken dose. In other words, If you take 10mg of Clonazepam, it will take 20-50 hours for that 10mg to effectively become 5mg once ingested. Keep in mind that just because a drug has a certain half-life and elimination period, does not mean that it cannot be discovered via drug testing. Some Clonazepam metabolites such as 7-aminoclonazepam can be detected in urine upto 3 weeks after ingestion and others can be detected up to 30 days after.

Is Klonopin addictive?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) schedules or categorizes thousands of drugs based on their potential for abuse and medical utility. Klonopin and by extension, Clonazepam, is in the category of being a schedule IV drug. According to the DEA, a schedule IV drug has “a low potential for abuse relative to substances in Schedule III.” 

However, the DEA still considers it to be somewhat addictive and dangerous. In 2016, the American Association of Poison Control Centers indicated that there were 74,050 cases involving some type of benzodiazepine along with 14 deaths reported. Klonopin may not be as addictive as other drugs such as opioids, however, it is still very much possible to develop a dependency in as little as two weeks.

klonopin and alcohol

Like most benzos, Klonopin users will develop a tolerance over time which can be dangerous as it promotes the use of higher doses. A tolerance is your body’s way of getting adjusting to an outside stimulus. The more you experience something, the more your body becomes normal or indifferent to it. For drug users, that means the euphoric high they first experienced may never occur at that intensity ever again. However, in order to get close to it, users will continuously increase their dosage potentially until overdose. 

Mixing Klonopin and Alcohol

Klonopin and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants which help calm people down by slowing critical brain function. However, these CNS depressants also slow breathing and other nerve function, making it dangerous to combine the two. Many people will however mix alcohol and some form of benzo, as the DEA states, “Benzodiazepines are also used to augment alcohol’s effects and modulate withdrawal states.”

Mixing any two drugs will usually result in an enhanced effect from both drugs. However, mixing two CNS depressants can lower critical organ function such as breathing until it stops, causing an overdose. Mixing the two drugs can also cause serious impairment and promote dangerous behavior which otherwise would have been avoided such as driving or operating machinery.

Some signs of an overdose include slowed and shallow breathing, confusion, unresponsiveness and slow reflexes. In extreme cases, overdoses can cause death and therefore require immediate assistance from medical professionals. 

Treatment

klonopin and alcohol

Treatment for addiction can be challenging. Addiction is considered to be a chronic illness which means it has similar relapse rates as other illnesses such as type II diabetes. Addiction to multiple substances, like Klonopin and alcohol, does further complicate treatment. However, this is not to say it is impossible. Plenty of people have recovered and moved on to living a life of sobriety. We recommend that you seek the help of a trained professional who can help diagnose the causes rather than just manage the symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today so we can begin your journey to lifelong recovery, together.

Ativan and Alcohol

Mixing alcohol with most drugs is likely to nearly always have a negative effect on the body. Many people are hoping to heighten the “positive” effects of each drug. However, they do not realize that this also significantly heightens the negative and dangerous effects. Of course, there are ways to prevent the accidental mixing of drugs. However, it is the intentional mixing of two drugs which becomes a serious cause for concern. With the increase in anxiety disorders in the US, there is a correlating increase in the amount of drugs prescribed to treat such ailments. Ativan and Xanax are both drugs with a large number of prescriptions to patients who deal with issues such as anxiety. Further, some people use alcohol as a means to deal with anxiety. Ativan and alcohol are a common and dangerous combination.

What is Ativan?

Ativan is a benzodiazepine with use as a sedative, muscle relaxant or tranquilizer. It is also the brand name for the drug lorazepam. It is in the class of psychoactive drugs. Further, it is one of the most abused pharmaceutical drugs in the US. Other benzodiazepines (or ‘benzos’) include Xanax and Valium. Ativan may be prescribed to treat patients who suffer from:

  • Anxiety
  • Nervous tension
  • Psychological issues
  • Insomnia
  • Epilepsy

Ativan users develop a tolerance over time. A tolerance is the body’s way of getting used to a drug. Overtime, a user will need to continually up their dosage in order to feel the same effects. Thus, because Ativan is such a potent drug, it is rarely prescribed for periods over 4 months. 

Ativan, like most other benzos, works by blocking the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter to essentially slow down overactive mental processes. It is commonly sold in a tablet/pill form and takes around 45 minutes to start feeling the effects. Xanax operates much in the same way as Ativan, but Xanax is more popular in mainstream culture and on the streets. Given that Ativan is a depressant, the side effects will include drowsiness and tiredness. Some other side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash
ativan and alcohol

Ativan Abuse and Addiction

Ativan is considered to be a Schedule IV Controlled Substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). According to the DEA, a Schedule IV substance is one which has “a low potential for abuse relative to substance in Schedule III.” DEA definitions are based on a relative scale where the drugs are essentially compared in their potential for abuse. While the definition for Schedule IV includes “low potential for abuse”, it is important to realize that it is in comparison to much more potent and dangerous drugs such as Ketamine or Codeine. So make no mistake, Ativan is still very dangerous. So, is Ativan addictive? Absolutely, because not only does Ativan create a physical dependence but it also creates a psychological one. Users who abuse Ativan will likely see the negative consequences in their life but will still continue to abuse the drug. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, benzo related overdoses have risen from 1,135 in 1999 to 11,537 in 2017- that is a 916% increase. As a central nervous system depressant, Ativan will slow and suppress the activity of crucial organs such as the lungs. In some cases, taking too much Ativan can completely stop your breathing. 

ativan and alcohol

Knowing the signs of an overdose can save your life or the life of someone else:

  • Pale, cool, bluish skin or lips
  • Very shallow, slow breathing
  • Over-sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of coordination/motor skills
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unresponsiveness

Any overdose is a serious medical emergency and requires immediate attention. 

How Long Does Ativan Stay In Your System?

The half-life of Ativan is around 12 hours. A chemical half-life is the determination of how long it takes for the chemical to reduce to half of its initial ingested amount. 10mg of Ativan will take 12 hours to effectively become 5mg in the body. However, an active metabolite of Ativan, glucuronide has a half life of 18 hours. It takes around 5 days for 95% of the lorazepam to leave your body. While the drug may have left your body, traces of it and its metabolites may remain longer in the body and can be detected with various tests.

Ativan can be detected in your system by:

  • Urine- up to 6-9 days after ingestion
  • Blood- up to 3 days
  • Saliva- around 8 hours
  • Hair follicle- up to 4 weeks
ativan and alcohol

While these figures can provide a good estimation of the effectiveness of drug tests, there are several other factors which must be considered when determining how long Ativan stays in your system.

  • Body composition- your build/composition will play a big factor in how long traces can be detected. Everything from your height and weight, genetics, metabolic rate, age and body fat percentage.
  • Frequency of use- your history with Ativan (essentially any benzodiazepine) will determine how well your body processes it. As previously mentioned, Ativan users will develop a tolerance which will then increase how long it takes for your body to process the drug. 

Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

Ativan and Alcohol are both central nervous system depressants. They both release GABA which decreases and slows bodily and nerve function. The effects of both drugs are quite similar. The biggest risk of mixing the drugs is the possibility of an overdose. Slowing down bodily function will lead to a drop in blood pressure and slowed breathing. In some cases, breathing can completely stop leading to a blackout and overdose. Taking the drugs together may also lead to engaging in dangerous behavior such as driving or taking other serious risks.

ativan and alcohol

How To Get Help

Dealing with alcohol or benzodiazepine addiction can be difficult. It can impact all aspects of your life and usually requires the help of trained professionals to help you along your journey to recovery. It is important to find treatment that addresses addiction issues as well as mental health. If you or a loved one needs help, please contact us today.

Melatonin and Alcohol

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in humans. However, it is increasing in popularity as a supplement as a sleeping aid. When taken in its correct dose, melatonin is very effective. But what if you have been drinking and want to take melatonin? What are the risks? These are important questions to consider when taking any drug or combining drugs. Melatonin and alcohol are both common substances. While the combination is not deadly, there are potential risks to consider. It is important to consider this with any substances.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycles our bodies naturally develop. Melatonin releases during the night or evening as the light around us decreases. Long before the abundance of technology, there was no exposure to artificial light such as that produced by our cellphones and laptops. Historically, the setting sunlight and onset darkness were the only things to help the release of melatonin. Light stimulates the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which resides in the hypothalamus part of the brain. With light exosure, the SCN sends signals to the brain to release certain hormones such as cortisol, increase body temperature and prevent the release of melatonin. However, without light, the SCN essentially allows for the release of melatonin. 

Most of us know the news reports and medical journals advising us to avoid cell phone use before bed. It is because that artificial ‘blue’ light keeps the SCN active. This is preventing the release of melatonin and making sleep more difficult to achieve. Melatonin is also a very powerful antioxidant and is known to regulate fat cells in the body.

melatonin and alcohol

Melatonin is an over-the-counter drug found in most vitamin aisles in stores. There is no need for a prescription. It is usually sold in its pill form, although liquid melatonin is available.

Melatonin Abuse and Addiction

Most people use melatonin to help them fall asleep and there are no well known cases of melatonin abuse. Some individuals experience a decrease in natural melatonin production as they get older. Thus, they take melatonin pills to supplement what their body is already producing. In addition, the supplement is seen as a helpful aid in dealing with jet lag. Generally, melatonin supplements are considered to be safe for short and long term use. Currently, there is little risk of developing an addiction.

melatonin and alcohol

There are no well documented cases of melatonin abuse or addiction. There is no risk of developing a dangerous tolerance as there is with other substances. Subsequently, if you take the same dose everyday you feel essentially the same effects. Although, some feel it is less effective after long-term use. Still, anyone with a family history of addiction, or for themselves, should discuss with a doctor.

How Much Melatonin is Too Much?

While melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical, it is important to take the correct amount. Too little is not enough to help you fall asleep. Further, with too much there are potentially negative effects. It is also possible too much interferes with your sleep cycle. Melatonin does not work the same for everyone. If you are looking for ways to sleep, consider speaking with a medical professional to find solutions.

melatonin and alcohol

Can You Overdose on Melatonin?

While it is important find balance with anything, there are no known cases of melatonin overdose. It is possible that taking too much causes unwanted side-effects such as extreme drowsiness and can cause very vivid dreams. In some cases, taking excessive dosages have been reported to little effect and rather made it more difficult to fall asleep.

Other effects of melatonin include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Low-blood Pressure
  • Tiredness the following day

Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It has sedative effects on the body after just a few drinks. Even though alcohol seems to do essentially the same job as melatonin, mixing the two substances is never recommended. For some, alcohol helps with sleeping. However, it also promotes the release of stress hormones in the body that causes restlessness during sleep. Also, some studies show that alcohol inhibits the natural release of melatonin in the body. It potentially therefore interferes with any supplementation of the hormone. If you need to take melatonin, it is recommended that you wait around 2-3 hours after your last drink to consume melatonin. It is best not to combine another sedative with alcohol, a substance with potentially deadly sedative effects.

The Bottom Line

Melatonin is a rather harmless but useful supplement. Many people rely on it to have a good night’s rest. Some also rely on alcohol to achieve the same effects. Some refer to this as a ‘nightcap’. However, they frequently find that their sleep is more restless. Mixing the two substances is not likely to have deadly consequences as seen when mixing other drugs with alcohol. However, there are still potential negative side effects. Both are sedatives which is where some of the danger is.

Generally, mixing various substance with alcohol is a bad idea. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the world. Yet, the common usage makes it difficult to recognize when it is abuse or addiction. Few also recognize the dangers of alcohol. Further, its interactions with other drugs are potentially deadly. It is always best to discuss interactions of any substances with a medical professional if possible. Someone dealing with alcohol abuse or addiction is at risk. They likely do not realize the danger though of mixing something like melatonin with alcohol. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse, please contact us today.

Resources:

Suprachiasmatic nucleus and melatonin – Neurology
Blue light has a dark side – Harvard Health Publishing
Significance and application of melatonin – NIH
Alcohol and Fatigue – Harvard Health Publishing