Beware of the Benzos

May 23, 2014

USA Today recently ran a summary of a SAMHSA report about the dangers of Xanax use.  Xanax (alpazolam) is a benzodiazepine antianxiety medication that, frankly, works really well for a lot of people.  That’s a good thing.  The problem is that many primary care physicians are quick to write scripts for the seemingly benign quick fix and they don’t discuss the potential dangers.  Benzos are closely related to alcohol, so I always caution my patients who are using benzos to totally abstain from alcohol use on the day of any benzo use.  The combination of benzos and alcohol are typically exponential in effect rather than simply additive (in other words one drink plus one pill yields the equivalent of three to five drinks).  OK, so you think that might be a nice way to get drunk cheaply?  Don’t do it… both benzos and alcohol are central nervous system depressants which means that they lower your heart rate, they slow your reaction time but what is most scarey about their combined use is that they also can slow your breathing down to the point that you stop breathing.  Don’t drink and use benzos.

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