Lorazepam and alcohol are dangerous in combination. These drugs have similarities in action, which means they can increase the effects of each other, translating to symptoms like greater intoxication, sleepiness, dizziness, or suppression of breathing. Using large amounts of both is exceptionally risky and can cause death. Frequent alcohol use also interferes with how well lorazepam works over the long term.
The least effect of combining minimal amounts of lorazepam and alcohol is increased intoxication. In other words, people are likely to feel more symptoms of drunkenness with lesser amounts of alcohol. This could affect motor skills, hand eye coordination, clarity of speech, and judgment. Even in very small increments, lorazepam and alcohol could impair skills enough to make driving very dangerous. Alternately, the two can combine together to initially promote sleep, which may lead to premature waking at night.
One of the greatest concerns in mixing lorazepam and alcohol is that both drugs are central nervous system depressants and they impact the rate of breathing. In worst case scenarios, people who combine the two in large amounts may be prone to sleep apnea or stop-breathing episodes. As breathing speed slows, it may stop altogether. The person may be too sedated to wake up enough to reinitiate breathing. In these instances, death can occur.
Patients often use lorazepam to treat anxiety conditions like post-traumatic stress, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Medical literature suggests that combining lorazepam and alcohol when a patient has an anxiety disorder creates additional problems. Alcohol may cause lorazepam to work less effectively, and over time if the two are used together, it may result in greater anxiety and irritability that cannot be controlled with medication any longer. This means a patient using both substances could end up worsening his or her condition.
Nevertheless, dual use of lorazepam and alcohol is quite common among people with anxiety disorders. Initially, when these drugs are used together they may promote more relaxation because they are causing a greater level of intoxication. A patient may feel better and more dissociated from anxiety feelings.
This feeling tends to deteriorate over time. As a result, patients might end up using more of one or both substances, increasing the danger of higher levels of intoxication and fatal stop-breathing episodes. This measure also raises the likelihood of becoming addicted to either of these substances. Increased use typically elevates anxiety and creates mood instability.
When patients start using a benzodiazepine like lorazepam, they should talk to their physicians about their alcohol use. Doctors may consider other anti-anxiety medicines that don't have this central nervous system depressant feature. Alternately, patients and doctors might evaluate if alcohol use has become a problem, and patients could get medical support if they plan to abstain. Ironically, lorazepam is frequently used to promote comfort during alcohol detox, which attests to the two drugs' similarity.