Drug overdoses were responsible for over 72,000 deaths in the United States in the year 2017 alone. To put this number into perspective, it surpassed the yearly peak totals for gun deaths, HIV-related deaths, and automobile accidents. (1)
A major cause of these drug overdose deaths actually comes from combining more than one drug, which leads to a fatal overdose.
Here we take a look at one of these deadly combinations: that of Klonopin & alcohol.
What is Klonopin?
Klonopin belongs to a drug class known as benzodiazepines, which include medications such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and others.
In recent years, the number of benzodiazepine prescriptions has skyrocketed, adding to the growing drug overdose concern. (2)
While benzodiazepines overdoses are rarely fatal, they greatly increase the risk of overdose deaths when combined with other central nervous system depressants- in particular alcohol. (3)
Why is combining alcohol and Klonopin so dangerous?
Both Klonopin and alcohol share one major side effect that makes them so inherently dangerous: respiratory depression.
Respiratory depression refers to when breathing in the individual is slowed to the point of being dangerous. (4) When Klonopin and alcohol are taken in combination, they greatly increase the rate and duration of respiratory depression than either substance does by itself. (5)
To make matters worse, Klonopin has an extremely long half-life of approximately 30-40 hours. This means that the user may still be at risk of a fatal combination overdose over 24 hours after last taking the drug. (6)
So what do the numbers say?
One study sought to analyze how frequently the mixing of alcohol and prescription medications lead to emergency room visits. It was found that 27.2% of emergency room visits that were related to benzodiazepine overdoses (such as Klonopin) in the year 2010 involved mixing alcohol with the medication.
Furthermore, it was found that 72.7% of the deaths related to benzodiazepines also involved alcohol. (7)
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.