Mixing Valium and Other Drugs: Dangerous Interactions and Effects

Last Updated: July 1, 2021

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

It may seem hyperbolic, but rates of accidents, addiction, overdoses, and deaths related to alcohol and Diazepam, part of a class of medications that includes the drug Valium, have been going up in recent years, and the trend is as troubling as the current opioid epidemic in the nation. Rates of deaths attributed to alcohol and Valium use have gone up by 30% over the last 20 years. These shocking statistics layout the simple truth, Diazepam interactions are problematic at best and can potentially be deadly and destructive. Read on to learn possible causes, effects, and interactions of Valium and alcohol and other substances, along with how to avoid dangerous Valium interactions and overdose.

Causes of Diazepam Interactions

Not everyone mixes alcohol with Valium to intensify the calming effects of each drug; sometimes, it happens by accident. In this case, users are not aware that they are endangering their health and safety. They could be using the drug daily and might accidentally mix it with alcohol on the off chance they just happen to be drinking.

Beer bottle and valium pills on the table.

Whether it’s done on purpose or accidentally, mixing Valium with other drugs and alcohol can cause adverse side effects. If the drugs are used long-term, they can also develop addiction or dependency. Users might not even realize that they’re slowly developing a substance abuse problem until it’s too late. It’s best to seek help immediately and join a rehab program if the user feels like addiction might be possible.

Effects Of Mixing Diazepam and Alcohol

Valium and alcohol are both in the classes of medication that are depressants. Individually, they both function to limit and lessen the functioning of the central nervous system. Neurotransmission becomes more difficult, reactions become sluggish, emotions become more despondent, and thoughts become muddled. Mixing Valium and alcohol essentially doubles the depressant effects of the drug. Instead of providing help, it can potentially put the person using them at risk.

Sad woman addicted to Valium looking and touching pills.

Considering that the list of side effects of the substances individually are similar, there will be similarities, yet worsening them when both of the substances are in use together. There are also more specific risks that come with mixing this medication and alcohol. Looking at the potential side effects of Diazepam and alcohol, there are both short and long-term effects on the users’ health of using them together.

Some Potential Short-Term Consequences Of Taking Valium with Alcohol Together Are:

  • Increased aggression and anger. Depressants lower inhibitions, and confusion often leads quickly to anger.
  • Decreased blood pressure to below average or safe levels. Depressants work on the body, and they will lower blood pressure rapidly together.
  • Decreased breathing/difficulty breathing. When combined, Diazepam and alcohol will slow the heart rate and breathing of the person taking them.
  • Depression. Together, they work to hamper emotions, likely causing more sadness, despair, hopelessness.
  • Dissociation, blacking out. It will be common to have blackouts, where the person is still walking and talking but is not aware of what they are doing or saying and will not remember it later.
  • Recovery can be difficult and confusing. The effects of these can be so powerful for some people that they can only get off of them with professional help at a rehab.

Overdose Risks

An overdose of Diazepam and alcohol is caused when the user’s body cannot metabolize it fast enough. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, if antidepressants are mixed with alcohol or other drugs, there’s not only an increased chance of overdose, but it can affect the entire body. The mix can significantly slow down the heart rate and can cause difficulty breathing. It may also lead to a loss of motor control, cause unusual behavior, and affect memory.

According to the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Valium and other benzodiazepines were detected in over 408,0000 ER visits in 2010 alone. Several patients who overdosed on Valium had mixed alcohol with prescription medication, changing the way it worked. The report also showed that 27% of ER visits involve Diazepam and alcohol. 26% of the benzodiazepine users died because they were also drinking alcohol. This shows how persistent this problem is; it’s essential that the users know the risks and get help immediately if they think they might have accidentally taken a heavier dose than prescribed. The quicker they take action, the higher the chance of recovery.

A man overdosed on Valium and alcohol, pills and alcohol on table.

Drug overdose rates are at an all-time high, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes that close to 50,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2014 in the United States.

Some Long-Term Effects Of Valium And Alcohol Use Include:

  • Impaired cognitive functions. Using Valium and alcohol together will eventually damage the nervous system and brain.
  • Increased risk of liver damage than with just drinking alcohol alone. Both drugs work together to harm a person’s liver.
  • Increased risk of suicide/homicide. The volatility of the substances, Diazepam and alcohol, will increase aggressive and impulsive behaviors, often leading to a tragic end.
  • Sleep disturbances. Mixing alcohol or other substances and Valium will often lead to sleep disturbances, insomnia, or sleeping too much.

Other Valium Interactions

There are many physiological reasons why Valium interactions with drugs are dangerous and destructive, and there are also other reasons that make it a dangerous combination. Under the influence of both of these medications, a person is less in control and less likely to think through or even remember what they did while they were under the influence. This can become a pattern, the user could develop Diazepam addiction, and it would be complicated to get off of these without proper care. They could potentially need professional care at a rehab too.

Diazepam will cause serious symptoms when combined with any other drugs, and it does not matter if it is liquid form or Diazepam pills. The effects are still the same. The following lists present some of the more dangerous combinations of drugs that can be taken.

Diazepam and Opioids

Studies show that diazepam interactions do not potentiate the acute effect of prescription opioids but reverse the tolerance developed after administering the drugs. Tolerance limits the long-term utility of these opioid agonists, leading to escalating doses of opioids to achieve the same analgesic effect while increasing the risks for abuse liability and death from respiratory depression. Opioids have such substantial effects on the mind. It puts the user at severe risk when they take any combination of Valium and Hydrocodone, Diazepam and Codeine, or Valium and Vicodin, for example. Diazepam interactions with opioids can cause dangerous health effects.

Some of Them May Include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • The potential of slipping into a coma
  • Even death if someone overdoses on them

Centers for Disease Control has reported that 31% of fatal opioid overdoses in recent years involved benzodiazepines. These ominous trends led the Food and Drug Administration in 2016 to issue boxed warnings to inform healthcare providers and patients of the severe risks associated with the combined use of benzodiazepines and opioids. Users are advised to seek help immediately if they think that they might be developing an addiction.

Gabapentin and Valium

Gabapentin and Valium are classified as CNS depressants, and upon contact, they can cause an intense sedative effect. Gabapentin is an antidepressant that works by slowing down particular brain functions, prescribed to people who are dealing with depression and other mental health issues routinely for treatment as part of their recovery or rehab journey. These two can be taken together but with caution, but since both Gabapentin and Valium cause the user to be too drowsy, it’s integral that they don’t use anything else that may enhance the drowsiness, especially alcohol, to protect the nervous system overall.

Valium and Xanax

Valium and Xanax are both drugs that fall within the benzodiazepine class. They both are used in treating anxiety. Taking them together will mean that the user will be getting double the dose of almost the same drug. When the user takes two benzodiazepines together, like Xanax and Valium, one is much more likely to experience an overdose.

Pills and a glass of alcohol.

A benzo overdose can even be fatal. Symptoms of an overdose on these two benzodiazepines include extreme exhaustion, confusion, significantly impaired coordination, and the experience of a comatose state. A new U.S. study shows that of all the fatal overdoses from narcotic medications, nearly 30 percent also involved benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, as addiction is widespread when the two are mixed often.

Flexeril and Valium

Generally used as skeletal muscle relaxants, Flexeril and Valium have the potential to be abused. Flexeril may enhance the effects of alcohol, barbiturates, and other CNS depressants. Diazepam interactions with cyclobenzaprine may increase side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some users may also experience difficulty in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination.

Valium and Benadryl

Diazepam interactions with diphenhydramine may increase some of their side effects. These include confusion, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and drowsiness. The elderly may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination.

The use of a drug like Benadryl is considered okay for those taking Valium if it is being used once in a while to stem an allergic reaction (i.e., anaphylaxis). Harmful interactions can occur when using the substances together too often or in a large amount.

Adderall and Valium

It is assumed that amphetamines and benzodiazepines cancel each other out but mixing them can be extremely dangerous. Combining them can lead to taking too much of one type of drug. Because stimulants overshadow depressants’ effects, a person may not feel the effects and think they need to take more, potentially leading to an overdose.

A study proposes that dual intoxication potentiates their effects on cardiac tissue and coronary arteries, which results in larger myocardial injury. Taking both types of drugs at once is also potentially hard on the heart, as stimulants speed up the heart rate, while depressants work to slow it. It sends mixed messages to the heart and may result in dysrhythmias or heart failure. Often, this happens so fast that the user doesn’t even have the chance to seek help. Recovery can be pretty rare if the drugs damage the heart enough, even with rehab.

Ambien and Valium

Diazepam interactions with zolpidem and other substances may suppress brain activity, and nerves can slow down the vital functions to a dangerous rate. The Drug Abuse Warning Network found that about 50 percent of patients who sought emergency treatment related to zolpidem use also had prescription pain relievers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medications.

Avoiding Dangerous Interactions

Mixing Valium with other substances, particularly alcohol, can be foolish at best, and deadly especially for those taking them long-term. Diazepam interactions with alcohol can have many negative consequences for anyone’s health, and it will impact everyone. Mixing substances of any kind can be dangerous, but mixing ones with a similar effect can unknowingly double or even triple their impact, possibly leading to an accidental overdose.

To Avoid Dangerous Diazepam Interactions:

  • Always inform the doctor about other medications the user is taking
  • Consult a doctor about drug’s interactions once the user is prescribed it
  • Keep in mind that Valium has a long half-life, meaning that even when the effects wear off, the substance may still be present in the body
  • Avoid consuming alcohol while taking any medication, as alcohol use is contraindicated with most drugs
  • Only use as much as the doctor prescribes to avoid the chances of overdose

Complications of Valium and alcohol interactions can arise during detox and treatment for addiction. Medical detox should be followed by a specialized addiction treatment program at rehab centers that focus on polysubstance abuse. After detox, individuals can enter into a specialized treatment program that focuses on life skills training, relapse prevention, and ongoing support. These programs should tailor treatment plans to suit the needs of each client. Special care is to be taken during recovery and after recovery to avoid a relapse.

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Page Sources

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Published on: April 19th, 2018

Updated on: July 1st, 2021

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.