The Dangers of Sleeping Pill and Alcohol Use

We’ve all taken a sleep aid at one point or another – to finally get some rest while enduring a bad cold, to sleep after being up 6 nights in a row with babies, or after we’ve been up for what seemed like days trying to make a deadline for a work project. Sometimes we just need help to sleep on occasion but some people just have chronic issues and need sleep aids too and that’s perfectly okay.

The danger rolls in when you aren’t careful with sleep aids. On their own, sleep aids can be dangerous, they slow breathing, put you into a forced sleep, and can have dangerous side effects if not taken under a watchful eye. That’s why you should never, under any circumstances mix alcohol with sleeping pills.

It can be an easy mishap, if you’ve had a couple drinks while out with friends and regularly take sleeping pills, you might not even think twice about taking your nightly aid. The problem is that consuming alcohol while under the influence of sleep aids is that the two can intermingle. Many sleep aids are benzodiazepine based, they essentially work by depressing the central nervous system. And surprise, surprise, so does alcohol.

This can slow breathing down, cause cardiac arrest, slow or impair motor functioning, cause memory impairment, and/or contribute to sleep walking.

One of the most dangerous effects of taking these two substances together is that, since they both work in similar ways, taking them together can increase both substances sedative effect to dangerous levels.

Despite the many risks, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA) states that this type of abuse is relatively common.

If you choose to use sleeping aids, prescription or otherwise, please never combine with alcohol. Remember, sleep aids are to help you sleep when in need, they are not to be combined with any other substance.

Reference
N.D. “What Happens When You Mix Sleeping Pills and Alcohol?”. The Recovery Village. (website). 2017
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