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Mixing Sleeping Pills and Alcohol


Combining sleeping pills with alcohol promotes enhanced effects of both drugs. Sleeping pills, or sedatives, are drugs that suppress the central nervous system. This relaxes the body and helps people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Similarly, alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant. Both sleeping pills and alcohol work in similar ways, so when they are mixed together, the effects are increased. Mixing sleeping pills and alcohol is dangerous and it may lead to severe health problems. 

There are many prescription and over the counter sleeping pills that people abuse with alcohol, such as Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril, Halcion, and even melatonin and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Although each of these medications is different, they all suppress consciousness and may interact dangerously when mixed with alcohol. Most sleeping pill labels warn against drinking while taking sleeping medication – but not everyone follows these suggestions.

Dangers of Mixing Sleeping Pills and Alcohol

When you take sleeping pills with alcohol, each substance increases the effects of the other substance. Both drugs suppress the central nervous system, decreasing alertness, breathing, cognitive function, and other essential bodily functions. When mixing the two substances, you may experience the following:

  • Risk of overdose
  • Risk of falling into sleeping pill addiction or alcoholism
  • Sleepwalking, sleep-talking, sleep-eating, and even sleep-driving
  • Inability to remember what happened while under the influence
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Increased risk of risky behaviors and death

People may think that it isn’t very dangerous to abuse alcohol and sleeping pills. However, the risk of overdosing is alarming. Fatal overdoses may occur if the combination of drugs overly suppresses the normal functioning of the body. Dangerous combinations of sleeping pills and alcohol may suppress breathing or affect the heart. However, combining both drugs is dangerous because injuries or fatalities can also occur as a result of impaired judgment and coordination. In fact, the two drugs impair the mind so much that it makes simple activities much more difficult and dangerous. It can turn something as simple as crossing the road or driving into something deadly.[1]

How Sleep Medicine and Alcohol Effect Sleep

Since both sleeping pills and alcohol are depressants, many people believe that they would promote even better sleep. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, mixing the two substances often leads to sleep-walking, sleep-eating, and even sleep-driving. While under the influence of these two substances, these dangerous episodes are typically not remembered after the fact. As a result, people who mix alcohol and sedatives put themselves at risk of serious injury or unintended legal consequences.

Furthermore, mixing sleeping medications and alcohol results in poor sleep quality. In the beginning, the combination of substances may make a person tired, allowing them to fall asleep quickly. Although a person may fall asleep quickly, they will likely obtain poor quality sleep. Chronic alcohol abuse causes changes in the brain that are exacerbated when combined with sleeping pills. When taken together, these substances reduce brain-wave activity, causing people to not feel rested when they wake up – ultimately defeating the purpose of sleeping medication. 

Can You Get Addicted to Alcohol and Sleeping Pills?

In short, yes, you can get addicted to both alcohol and sleeping medication. Alcohol is one of the most common addictions in America, due to both the legality and social acceptability of the drug. Alcohol abuse often leads to psychological and physical dependence – making it extremely difficult to quit. 

Sleeping pills, on the other hand, can be psychologically and physically dependent – although it is usually not as severe as other addictions. When a person is dependent on sleeping medication, he or she will find it difficult to sleep without it. However, the addictive nature of sleeping pills varies depending on exactly which medication a person is taking. For example, using benzos or Ambien to sleep may be more addictive than over-the-counter sleeping pills.[2]

Should You Go to Rehab?

Mixing alcohol and sleeping medication may lead to many undesirable outcomes. Unfortunately, one of these outcomes is addiction. Whether you are an alcoholic who takes sleeping pills to battle insomnia or is simply addicted to the sedative effects of sleep meds and alcohol, this kind of addiction is dangerous. 

There are many signs that indicate that you should go to rehab. For example, if you experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking or rely on sleeping medication to fall asleep or exacerbate your intoxication, you will benefit from rehab. In addition, if sleeping pills and alcohol is beginning to create turmoil in the financial, relationship, or work aspect of your life, rehab can help you turn that around. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with repeated use of alcohol and sleeping medicine, recovery is a phone call away. Our compassionate staff at Agape Treatment Center helps guide individuals on a path towards recovery. Contact us today to learn more about treatment for alcohol and sleeping medications. 



Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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