Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam, a short-acting benzodiazepine medication prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. Alcohol is an intoxicating substance created from fermented grains or fruit that has been part of human civilization for millennia. Both Klonopin and alcohol are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, meaning they both have similar effects on the brain and body. Both induce a sense of relaxation, reduced inhibitions, and happiness or euphoria.

While Klonopin is a prescription medication that should not be taken for recreational purposes, alcohol is legal for anyone over the age of 21 in the United States to ingest. Although there are laws regarding how much alcohol a person can consume, it is a legal, recreational substance around much of the world.

Mixing Klonopin and Alcohol

Because benzodiazepines and alcohol affect the brain in very similar ways, long-acting benzodiazepines like diazepam are often used to ease withdrawal symptoms when a person is overcoming alcohol use disorder. However, short-acting benzodiazepines like Klonopin are typically abused by people who want the rapid intoxication they can induce. Taking Klonopin in combination with alcohol can quickly increase alcohol’s effects.

Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Klonopin

While many people understand that alcohol use disorder is problematic, and prescription drug abuse is on the rise, few may consider the implications of drinking alcohol while taking Klonopin as prescribed. Warnings on Klonopin prescriptions instruct patients not to drink alcohol while taking Klonopin. Even if a person does not struggle with substance abuse issues, including polydrug abuse, alcohol can change how prescription medications work in the body. In some cases, such as when mixing benzodiazepines like Klonopin and alcohol, the two intoxicating substances together can enhance each other’s effects, including the dangerous or negative side effects.

Side effects of ingesting Klonopin and alcohol together include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Impaired judgment
  • Slowed or difficult breathing
  • Memory problems or loss
  • Impaired motor control or loss of coordination
  • Unusual behavior or emotional reactions

If a person abuses these drugs in combination for a long time, at high doses, or both, they could experience long-term physical changes or damage, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Amnesia
  • Mental health problems

It is also possible for a person to become addicted to Klonopin, alcohol, or both. Addiction often involves ingesting larger amounts of intoxicating substances to experience the same effects as the original dose because the body develops both a tolerance to the substances, as well as a dependence on the chemicals to feel normal.

Benzodiazepine overdoses have been increasing for a few years, in part because mixing drugs like Klonopin and alcohol can increase the effects of both, which means a person can overdose faster. Between 2005 and 2011, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Report, there were 943,032 visits to the emergency room due to benzodiazepines like Klonopin, either alone or in combination with other CNS depressants, especially alcohol or opioid narcotics. When alcohol and Klonopin are combined, the DAWN Report noted that there was a 24-55 percent increased risk of more serious outcomes for people in the ER, including longer hospital stay, more serious side effects, and death.

It is very important to get help overcoming any addiction, including addiction to benzodiazepines, alcohol, or both. When a person struggles with addiction to intoxicating substances, they put themselves at risk of long-term physical and mental damage, as well as overdose and death. When addiction involves multiple substances of abuse, such as alcohol and Klonopin, specialized care is needed.