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What Are the Risks of Combining Clonazepam and Alcohol?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Clonazepam is a medication that is part of the benzodiazepine family, and is often prescribed for health issues such as anxiety and panic disorders as well as for treatment in different types or epilepsy. When taken in monitored doses under the direction of a physician, the drug can help prevent or at least minimize seizures, serve as an anticonvulsant and even help individuals experiencing panic attacks to gradually regain their emotional equilibrium. While a very useful medication, there are inherent risks involved with mixing clonazepam and alcohol even in small amounts, with most of those risks centered around either magnifying the intended effects of the drug or the side effects that people sometimes experience when taking any type of anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety, medication.

As is true with any type of benzodiazepine, mixing these substances is likely to magnify the sedative action of the drug. People who take clonazepam in order to control panic attacks or to keep epileptic seizures under control normally experience a sense of settling down, since the effect of the drug is to promote the use of neurotransmitters produced in the brain to bring about a feeling of calm that in turn relaxes tense muscles and eases the emotional distress that occurs with nervous illnesses. Alcohol consumption also has an effect on some of those same neurotransmitters and can magnify the effect of the clonazepam past the point of comfort and cause the individual to feel somewhat detached and unresponsive.

In more severe situations, mixing these drugs may result in seriously impairing motor and cognition skills for a time. This places the individual in serious danger in terms of operating machinery or attempting to drive a car. At the same time, larger doses of clonazepam and alcohol combined could also negatively impact the body’s ability to breathe, creating a life-threatening situation.

Since alcohol will magnify the effects of clonazepam, the result is not only more intense manifestations of benefits that quickly turn into liabilities, but also the magnification of any undesirable side effects that the individual already experiences from a dose of the medication. This means that if clonazepam alone will affect balance or cause the individual to become irritable, adding alcohol to the mix can make standing or even sitting almost impossible to accomplish. Mixing these drugs may also result in a fit of anger that seems to come from nowhere but can cause damage to relationships that may be hard to repair.

The bottom line is that mixing clonazepam and alcohol is something that should never occur. Typically, physicians will urge patients to abstain from alcohol as long as they are actively taking this medication to regulate some type of seizure or anxiety disorder. Even after use of the drug is discontinued, it is often recommended to avoid alcohol consumption for at least several days to make sure the residue of the drug and its effects have passed from the system.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon948369 — On Apr 29, 2014

I read that clonex has a low toxicity level, yet can an overdose be lethal nonetheless?

By fify — On Mar 08, 2014

I made the mistake of mixing alcohol and clonazepam once. This was before I found out that they are not to be mixed. I became drunk so easily and had the worst hangover the next day. I was ill for several days. I felt sick physically and disturbed psychologically.

By ddljohn — On Mar 07, 2014

@fBoyle-- Your friend really needs to stop mixing clonazepam and alcohol. Just because he hasn't had major issues until now does not mean that he never will. Sometimes, this combination can kill quietly because both substance are central nervous system depressants. They affect vital functions like heartbeat and breathing. The individual may not even realize what is happening, especially due clonazepam side effects like drowsiness and sleepiness.

By fBoyle — On Mar 06, 2014

My roommate is on this medication and he frequently drinks alcohol. He says that when he drinks, he is more relaxed and has an easier time socializing. He says that the medication alone does not do this for him.

I have told him several times that this is a bad idea. But he doesn't care and assures me that nothing bad will happen. Thankfully, he doesn't drink excessively and he doesn't drink hard liquor. But I'm still worried about him and I'm scared that one day, I'm going to find him very ill.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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