Call American Addiction Centers for help today.

(888) 287-0471
Close Main Menu
Main Menu
  • Find a Rehab Center
  • AAC Facilities
  • Find Treatment
  • Paying for Treatment
  • Substance Abuse
  • About AAC
    Back to Main Menu
    Main Menu

What are Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Sedatives?

Questions about treatment?
  • Access to licensed treatment centers
  • Information on treatment plans
  • Financial assistance options

Alcohol and drugs do not mix. This is a slogan that we often hear from the media to try to encourage individuals to stop mixing alcohol and sedatives or other drugs. More often than not when an individual displays this type of mixing behavior, it can be a warning sign they are addicted to sedatives and alcohol. According to the Kaiser Family foundation, nearly half of individuals between the ages of 13 and 24 frequently mix alcohol and drugs together.

Effects Associated with Drinking Alcohol

“…nearly half of individuals between the ages of 13 and 24 frequently mix alcohol and drugs together.” Alcohol is a depressant. It has the same effects on the body as a sedative. It is absorbed by the stomach and small intestines rapidly, and it affects every organ in the body. The effects of alcohol include, but are not limited to:

  • Impaired memory
  • Numbness and weakness in the hands and feet
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Weakening of the heart muscle
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Inflammation of the liver or stomach
  • Rupture of the esophagus
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of balance
  • Poor judgment

How Sedatives Affect Your Body

Sedatives also depress the central nervous system function. This class of drugs includes many common prescription medications that are easy to find. Sedatives include Xanax, Valium, phenobarbital and pentobarbital sodium. They are used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, nervousness and sleep disorders. They are very effective medications but they are highly addictive. Warning signs of sedative addiction include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slow heart rhythm
  • Emotional and social withdrawal
  • Tolerance to sedatives
  • Nightmares and other sleep problems
  • Inability to stop taking the drug
  • Problems with work or school
  • Immediate withdrawal symptoms between doses

What are the Consequences of Mixing These Drugs

The dangers of mixing sedatives with alcohol vary depending on the individual. There is generally no way of knowing how the two will interact in your body until you take them together. Even a physician will not be able to tell you exactly what the effect will be. It depends on a variety of factors. Typically, when the two are mixed together, it can cause extreme drowsiness and even coma or death. It can also cause the heart and respiratory function to become dangerously slow. The effects depend on the size of the individual and their metabolic rate. It can also depend on other drugs in the system. The effects can also vary depending if there are any other underlying medical conditions.

Warning Signs of a Developing Addiction

When an individual begins mixing alcohol and sedatives together over a long period of time they may develop a tolerance for the two. Because of the highly addictive nature of both, it is not difficult to become addicted to sedatives and alcohol. It can take more of both drugs for an individual to feel the same effects they once did. Some of the warning signs of addiction include:

  • Irritability between doses
  • Hiding addictive behaviors
  • Making excuses for their drinking and drug use
  • Using when alone
  • Inability to stop
  • Tremor
  • Headaches
  • Cramping
  • Loss of interest in things that once gave them pleasure

How to get the Necessary Treatment

When an individual becomes addicted to sedatives and alcohol, the first thing they should do is contact a physician for the best plan of addiction treatment. The type of treatment and the length of treatment will depend on the individual. The longer the plan of treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, the higher your chances are for success.

If you or someone you love is addicted to sedatives and alcohol, call to discuss your treatment options and to get help.


  • According to the Santa Clara University, mixing alcohol and sedatives has a synergistic effect. This means that the combined effect of the two is more dangerous than the separate effects of the drugs combined.
  • You should never mix alcohol with drugs of any kind without first consulting with your physician.
  • When an individual becomes addicted to alcohol and sedatives, they may have a strong psychological dependence to both.
We're here to help you find the treatment you deserve.
Substance Abuse Assessment
How our treatment is different?
American Addiction Centers photo
Editoral Staff
The editorial staff of is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of pages for accuracy and relevance. Our reviewers consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA, NIDA, and other reputable sources to provide our readers the most accurate content on the web.
Reach out to us day or night

Our supportive admissions navigators are available 24/7 to assist you or your family.

Call 888-287-0471
There was an error fetching your data