Diazepam and Alcohol

Estimated reading time: 32 minute(s)

Millions of people continue to use diazepam for anxiety and other associated disorders. Commonly available under the brand name Valium, this strictly prescription-only medication has been helping people keep their mental health symptoms under control with great success. However, many of these regular consumers are not aware of its many precautions, one of which includes not combining it with alcoholic beverages.

Diazepam and alcohol are a dangerous combination as both substances are strong sedatives and can intensify each other’s effects. Both of them also carry a high potential for addiction which significantly increases when abused together. Hence, it is critical for everyone using diazepam to understand these risks and learn how to identify them in time to save themselves from long-lasting side effects and dangerous consequences.

What Happens When You Take Diazepam and Alcohol?

The side effects due to mixing alcohol and diazepam can be very dangerous and risky. Both substances interact and intensify each other’s side effects on a chemical level, leading to a higher risk of immediate overdose and a long-term possibility of addiction. The combination can also slow down the reaction times and impair the senses, making the user more prone to accidents. Memory problems, acute confusion, and speech-related difficulties are some other possible side effects generated by the combination.

Psychologically, consuming diazepam and alcohol together can exacerbate any ongoing anxiety or depression. In some people, the combination also worsens suicidal thoughts or makes them prone to committing suicide. Following is a summarized list of side effects that are likely to occur when you combine alcohol and diazepam:

  • Sedation
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Accidents
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and stumbling
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Brain damage
  • Addiction
  • Coma
  • Death

Diazepam and Alcohol: A Sprawl to Addiction?

Now that you have understood the possible interactions between alcohol and diazepam, it is easier to see how both substances can increase the risk of addiction. In many cases, the onset of addiction is not intentional, as most people use benzodiazepines for valid medical reasons, such as muscle spasms or anxiety. However, because it is a naturally addictive substance, it is possible to develop an addiction to it, especially in case of long-term use, no matter how careful they have been with the dosage.

In the case of alcohol, many of these people taking diazepam regularly combine a glass of beer or wine with the medication without realizing the possible dangers. They simply enjoy the feelings this combination leads to without knowing that it is setting them up for a long-term substance use disorder. To avoid this addiction from hitting, it is critical to familiarize yourself with the early signs of diazepam addiction, such as the following:

  • Losing interest in everyday activities and hobbies
  • Difficulty experiencing pleasure
  • Apathy
  • Becoming private about the medication use 
  • Experiencing strong cravings for diazepam

If you experience these symptoms but choose to ignore them, the condition will continue progressing, leading to long-term issues. Following are the signs of a more severe form of diazepam addiction:

  • Prioritizing diazepam use over everything else
  • Becoming defensive or argumentative about your diazepam use
  • Using the medication excessively despite acknowledging its negative health impacts
  • Needing an increasing dose to experience the same pleasureful feelings  
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you miss a dose of diazepam
  • Experiencing intense cravings for the medication

In addition to the warning signs mentioned above, many people with diazepam and alcohol issues may develop the following physical symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Paranoia
  • Memory problems
  • Clumsiness
  • Lack of focus
  • Aggression

Regardless of whether you notice the early warning symptoms or have entered the later stages of addiction, seeking help is essential. If you or a dear one has been struggling with the use of alcohol and diazepam, get in touch with a professional to save your life from the negative impacts.

What are the Effects of Diazepam and Alcohol: The Risk of Overdose?

The prevalence of drug overdoses is at an all-time high, with authorities reporting thousands of fatalities due to overconsumption of a substance. Mixing two substances with similar effects, such as diazepam and alcohol, can significantly increase the risk of a possible overdose. Almost a decade ago, a quarter of cases of a benzodiazepine overdose involved alcohol use, and the figure is likely to have increased much more over the years.

Following are the signs of an overdose due to combining diazepam with alcohol

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Low blood pressure

Many people with diazepam addiction who source this drug illegally get the counterfeit version that often contains other drugs mixed with it, such as fentanyl. These hidden components of counterfeit benzodiazepines make an event of overdose more dangerous and potentially fatal.

If you believe that you or someone around you has accidentally or intentionally overdosed on diazepam and alcohol, call the local medical emergency helpline and follow the tips mentioned below:

  • Turn the individual on their side
  • Keep them breathing and awake
  • Stay with the individual until help arrives
  • Help the paramedics by providing them with as much information as you can about the person and what they consumed, for example, the type of drug, its dose, etc.

What to Do If You Have Taken Diazepam and Alcohol Together?

It goes without saying that when you are about to start a new medication, speaking to a doctor regarding its safety and going through the relevant literature that comes with it is essential. It’s always better to talk to a professional before combining medication with any other substance, especially if you are unsure of the consequences.

Following are the two possibilities of mixing diazepam and alcohol and how you should tackle each situation accordingly:

Accidental one-off mixing of diazepam with alcohol

If you have been taking diazepam for some time and had a drink with a friend without knowing its implications, do not panic. If you have not been experiencing any symptoms till now, chances are everything will be all right. Depending on how much diazepam you are on and how much alcohol you drank, you might feel a bit more tired than usual. The important thing is to screen yourself for any serious side effects, such as confusion, breathing problems, or dizziness. If these side effects are not present, there is no need for urgent medical care, and you can continue while ensuring that you do not remix these substances in the future.

Mixing diazepam and alcohol occasionally

Many people continue to use diazepam with a legit prescription to control an underlying medical illness. A lot of them are not aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol while they are on this medication. If you are one of these people and have drunk alcohol a few times while still taking diazepam, the important thing is to monitor yourself for symptoms immediately. Seek medical care the minute you feel anything unusual happening in your body. It is equally important to avoid mixing the two substances in the future. If you have difficulty stopping, you might have developed an addiction and must seek professional support to save yourself from the potential side effects.

Mixing diazepam and alcohol regularly

If you are mixing diazepam with alcohol intentionally because you like the effects of the combination, you might be experiencing an underlying addiction. The effects of this combination may feel appealing, but in the long run, they can be highly problematic and lower the quality of life. If you have been mixing the duo regularly for some time and it is now causing acute side effects, like drowsiness and breathing issues, call the emergency services at once, as they might be due to an overdose. For the rest of the addictive side effects, seeking professional help is essential.

Safest Way to Come Off Diazepam and Alcohol Dependence

If you believe to be dependent or addicted to diazepam and alcohol, the best way to overcome this issue is through professional help. Plenty of rehabilitation centers offer help with addictions and co-occurring disorders in a safe and compassionate environment under professional supervision. A typical addiction treatment program includes the following steps to help you stop abusing diazepam and alcohol:

Medical Detox

People dealing with diazepam and alcohol addiction almost always need to undergo a detox process that allows them to safely get rid of these substances from their bodies. A detox aims to minimize the possible withdrawal symptoms these people may experience as they stop drug use. Most rehabs conduct this process in a medically-supervised environment and provide medications to ease the symptoms as needed.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Once detox is complete, patients can start focusing on rehabilitative treatment to understand why they developed an addiction and take care of all triggers. For this purpose, most of them stay on-site through the entire length of the program. This level of care is known as inpatient addiction treatment and is suitable for those with severe addictions and a higher chance of a relapse. The purpose of inpatient treatment is to keep a patient in a trigger-free environment under constant monitoring for a safer and more effective experience.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

For people who cannot attend inpatient treatment due to personal or professional obligations, many rehabs offer outpatient programs that do not require them to stay onsite. They continue to visit the rehab during fixed hours during the day and carry on with other responsibilities as usual. Because this type of treatment is less intensive, it is suitable for those with less-severe addictions to diazepam and alcohol.

Support Groups

While support groups are not the initial step for addiction treatment, they can help to recover addicts and maintain their newfound sobriety. These support groups allow these people to meet others with similar issues and connect with them to form their own support system.

Counseling and Therapy

Dealing with the physical symptoms of diazepam and alcohol addiction through detox is essential. However, once these symptoms are dealt with, it is crucial to address the psychological aspect of addiction through counseling and therapy. As a part of this step, patients work with a certified therapist to understand the causes of their addiction and develop new coping strategies to maintain sobriety and avoid relapses.


How long after taking diazepam can you drink alcohol?

Diazepam typically has a long half-life, meaning it may stay in the blood much longer than most regular drugs. Its elimination period can extend up to two days; however, this may depend on factors like age, weight, gender, and other medication use. Experts generally advise waiting for two days after the last dose of diazepam before consuming any alcohol.

Can you drink alcohol with diazepam just for once?

It is critical to avoid drinking any type of alcohol, even if it is a one-off, as long as you take diazepam. Both substances act as sedatives and may lead to unpleasant, dangerous side effects, such as confusion and drowsiness. Moreover, even a single incident of combining the two substances can be strong enough to cause an overdose.

Can I have a beer after taking diazepam?

Because most varieties of beer have alcohol in them, it is crucial to avoid combining it with diazepam to avoid depression of the central nervous system.

How long do the effects of diazepam 5mg last?

The effects of 5mg of diazepam include relaxation and sedation, which may last up to six hours. However, remember that diazepam is a long-acting benzo drug, which may still be present in your system even after the effects are over.

Can I drive after having diazepam and alcohol?

Both substances are potent enough to individually impact your cognitive functions. When taken together, the effects will likely intensify and mess with your cognitive function and judgment, making driving risky. Hence, never drive if you have taken diazepam, alcohol, or both of them together.

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