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Can drinking alcohol during your taper completely prevent recovery?


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Hello,

 

I've been having about 2-3 drinks a month (usually beer, wine, gin) and I've always understood the anecdotal risks of drinking during your taper (ex. the horrific hangover that follows, possible seizures) but I've handled it well. Now I've been reading that drinking alcohol during your taper could prolong recovery by years or even completely prevent it.

 

Is this all true? Did I already shoot myself in the foot?

 

Any comments/advice would be appreciated

Thank you

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Hi Charlie.  It is best to abstain from alcohol while tapering off benzos or when taking any benzodiazepene.  First, there is a risk of death from mixing the two.  Although it might be less likely with one drink a few times a month, I have read where even one alcoholic beverage mixed with benzo has caused death, allbeit not a very high likelihood, it is possible.  I personally had a glass of wine on a few occasions once I was down to about 2mg valium and was on vacation.  I can not say whether it delayed recovery or not.  At about 6 months after my taper, I began to have a couple of glasses of wine on occasion and had some minor side effects. Overall, I would discourage alcohol use during taper and in the first 6-12 months afterward.  I don't believe you "shot yourself in the foot" but it might be a good idea to finish your taper without any further "spirits".

 

Best,

 

Vertigo

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I was just going to ask if a glass or two of wine here and there would hurt and why? Then I saw this thread. So, what are the risks of having a few drinks every now and then? I drank occasionally when I was on my entire dose of klonopin....how could a few drinks during my taper be any different?
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Hi there!  Here is some info from another site that explains why alcohol is not recommended during the recovery process:

 

WHAT ABOUT CONSUMING ALCOHOL DURING WITHDRAWAL?

 

"Alcohol consumption, even in relatively small amounts, is not advised during benzodiazepine withdrawal. Many people report that alcohol, a sedative that should cause a reduction in anxiety, actually heightens withdrawal symptoms, particularly those of derealisation and depersonalisation.

 

Even if you find that alcohol has a calming effect on withdrawal symptoms, regular alcohol use creates a toxicity that will almost certainly prolong your recovery process. And even if you are able to withdraw successfully from benzodiazepines while consuming alcohol on a regular basis, which is unlikely, you will have probably substituted one addiction for another."

 

 

 

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Alcohol binds to the same receptors as a benzodiazepine, and this is the reason why alcohol shortly removes withdrawal symptoms from benzos and vice versa.

 

Having an occasional drink while tapering should only be avoided if your withdrawal symptoms worsen. Personally I have abstained from drinking alcohol my whole taper because of the heavy withdrawal I went in to even before starting my taper, when drinking alcohol.

 

If you can tolerate it while tapering, why abstain totally?

 

The problem occur if you use alcohol to keep down your benzo withdrawal symptoms, then you are absolutely off track!

 

Listen to your body. If you don't have a problem with coffee, drink it, if you don't have a problem with sugars, eat it, lets not get obsessive here!

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II like the last reply...I have maybe 4 drinks a month, and I enjoy them, so on this hellish road if once and a while I want to have a glass of wine, im going to. Im not replacing bonzes with alcohol, just once every few weeks I like a glass or two of wine ;) I've had a few glasses during my taper and so far it didn't make anything worse for me :)
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Alcohol binds to the same receptors as a benzodiazepine, and this is the reason why alcohol shortly removes withdrawal symptoms from benzos and vice versa.

 

Having an occasional drink while tapering should only be avoided if your withdrawal symptoms worsen. Personally I have abstained from drinking alcohol my whole taper because of the heavy withdrawal I went in to even before starting my taper, when drinking alcohol.

 

If you can tolerate it while tapering, why abstain totally?

 

The problem occur if you use alcohol to keep down your benzo withdrawal symptoms, then you are absolutely off track!

 

Listen to your body. If you don't have a problem with coffee, drink it, if you don't have a problem with sugars, eat it, lets not get obsessive here!

 

True words of wisdom, here.  :thumbsup:

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I believe alcohol acts the same way benzos do... they are very similar how they process through the liver and attach to the Gaba receptors. If you can abstain, that would probably be best til you are done. Good luck to you on your taper! =)
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"I have read where even one alcoholic beverage mixed with benzo has caused death"

 

I don't really like this statement because I did go out on a weekend while I was on and drink, and now I'm paranoid after reading that, that maybe the alcohol has permanently damaged me and maybe my brain is just damaged.

 

I have also smoke pot at at times in my taper and while I was on.

 

At this point I just feel doomed from reading things like that.

 

I'm looking for support here, and those types of comments generate so much fear and paranoia.

 

It may be better if I didn't come back here cause of things that are said like that.

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Hiya, I was drinking heavily when I was tapering and shortly after until I joined this site and read Ashton and got some advice from others here, so I quit totally and the W/D began to improve dramatically, I have since been drinking a beer or 2 on the weekends for the past few weeks or so, and I mean 2 beers Friday and maybe 2 Saturday, and haven't seen an affect re the W/D, they still come and go just like before when I was not drinking at all.

 

I would say that when the W/D are difficult alcohol makes them worse, whether during the taper or even after one is bezno free, so as someone else said if you are not getting a bad reaction and it has some beneficial affect to your psyche then do it, but be honest with yourself on that issue.

 

With that said however, there are some here that have related that even a small amount like you describe per month affected them and their W/D, so I think it's an individual thing and needs to be approached very cautiously.

 

good luck,

 

LK

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I have never been a big drinker, only drinking maybe once a month on nights out to the club with friends. I did drink while I was on Klonopin because I didn't know any better. If I remember correctly, all the bottle said was something like "Alcohol heightens the effect."  Well, call me naive or whatever but I drank anyway. My doctor never warned me about it. On k I would get drunk way too fast (even though I never drank a lot anyway) and I would NOT for the absolute life of me be able to sleep after that. Klonopin took away my ability to fall asleep on my own anyway, but when I made the mistake to drink while on it, I couldn't fall asleep no matter WHAT. It was really terrifying. Learn from my stupidity and do not drink on Klonopin, ever.

 

I had a few drinks in withdrawal, and for me my reaction to it just depends on where my CNS is in the healing process at the time. Right now at month 4, I am not drinking at all because I can feel it reacting weirdly for me. Previously, though, I had drank in withdrawal without feeling problems. So I wish I could give you a better answer. I do not know if it effects healing. But like everything else, it seems to come down to your own body chemistry and your personal choices. Of course, I think we can all acknowledge it's certainly not GOOD for you to drink in withdrawal! And I AM trying to avoid it as much as possible, it's just hard when people don't understand why you're not drinking when you want to fit in.

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"I have read where even one alcoholic beverage mixed with benzo has caused death"

 

I don't really like this statement because I did go out on a weekend while I was on and drink, and now I'm paranoid after reading that, that maybe the alcohol has permanently damaged me and maybe my brain is just damaged.

 

I have also smoke pot at at times in my taper and while I was on.

 

At this point I just feel doomed from reading things like that.

 

I'm looking for support here, and those types of comments generate so much fear and paranoia.

 

It may be better if I didn't come back here cause of things that are said like that.

 

kd35 -

 

Not to worry. I drank for 4 decades and took 1 mg Klonopin daily for the last 13 of those years. I know of MANY others who did the same thing (alcohol and benzos). Although it’s been a rough road for me (13+ months off right now), I am healing. Things have improved greatly since the early days and are improving more quickly now. I know of many alcoholics and benzo users who have healed just fine. I will be one of them in the coming months.

 

Don’t be concerned with the reference being made about causing death. The label on my benzo bottles always cautioned about drinking alcohol while taking benzos for that very reason. I was so messed up on the booze and benzos that I looked at the warning as a “beer, wine and liquor commercial” in wrapped up in one. Being nearly 2 years off the booze and nearly 14 months off the K, I am thinking much more clearly now and realize how foolish I was.

 

Anyway, I’m alive and I’m going to be fine. I didn’t drink for just one weekend - I drank nearly daily week after week for 13 years while on the K. I am not permanently damaged and you aren’t either. You will be fine too.

 

I would be remiss if I did not say that drinking while tapering or in benzo w/d is like playing with fire - if you ever want to be without s/x. I don’t know why anyone would take the chance. This has been exceedingly difficult for me. I wish I had known 13 years ago what I know now… but it will pass.

 

You will be fine.

 

eli

 

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"I have read where even one alcoholic beverage mixed with benzo has caused death"

 

I don't really like this statement because I did go out on a weekend while I was on and drink, and now I'm paranoid after reading that, that maybe the alcohol has permanently damaged me and maybe my brain is just damaged.

 

Hi Kd. Sorry you did not like my response. I did not say your brain is damaged permanently.  I said that mixing alcohol with benzodiazepenes, although not very common, can cause death.  That is a fact and people should be aware of the danger, even though it may be rare.  I'm sorry but that is the truth.

 

I have also smoke pot at at times in my taper and while I was on.

 

At this point I just feel doomed from reading things like that.

 

Sorry you feel doomed by reading a cautionary statement about mixing alcohol with benzodiazepenes.

 

I'm looking for support here, and those types of comments generate so much fear and paranoia.

 

With all respect Kd, I believe it is your interpretation that is causing the fear and paranoya.  There are folks here who have consumed alcohol while tapering, including myself as my post indicated.  I am not claiming to be "Lilly White" here, nor did my comment have any intention to upset or cause a lack of support to those who might read it.  That being said, I stand by my comment.  Mixing the two is not a good idea and in a worst case scenario, could be fatal.

 

It may be better if I didn't come back here cause of things that are said like that.

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"I have read where even one alcoholic beverage mixed with benzo has caused death"

 

I don't really like this statement because I did go out on a weekend while I was on and drink, and now I'm paranoid after reading that, that maybe the alcohol has permanently damaged me and maybe my brain is just damaged.

 

I have also smoke pot at at times in my taper and while I was on.

 

At this point I just feel doomed from reading things like that.

 

I'm looking for support here, and those types of comments generate so much fear and paranoia.

 

It may be better if I didn't come back here cause of things that are said like that.

 

For what it's worth, I very, very, very seriously doubt the veracity of that statement.  It's not like if you have a drink you're head's going to explode.  Pretty much the only way you could die from "one drink" is if you were on a heavy dose of benzos to begin with and your drink was made up of many shots of hard liquor.  You would also be extremely intoxicated, so for whatever piece of mind it's worth, if you have a drink and you feel fine then you're not going to die from it nor are you in any remote danger of dying from it.

 

Also, for what it's worth, though I largely haven't had much alcohol during my tapers/post-taper era, I have had 1-2 drinks on a number of occassions during this time with dinner or complimentary at art openings and such and absolutely nothing negative ever happened to me.  Not while I was doing it, and not the day or week after.  Other people feel that it does impact them, so keep that in mind, too, but my point is that we're all different on this one.

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I too consumed my share of alcohol during my 12 years of prescribed benzo use.  I never had any type of incident.  Then again, I was ignorant to the science of the benzo world.  I don't drink during my taper.  The reason is that the two are "interchangeable" when it comes to the GABA receptors.  Alcoholics are given Benzos for their recoveries.  When you drink, you are essentially up-dosing.  Will it prevent recovery?  I doubt it.  But isn't the point to come off these drugs completely in order to heal?  When you are healed, you will have the rest of your life to once again enjoy all the normalcies (sic) of life.  Until then, I don't think the risk/reward is justified.

 

Christopher

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I too consumed my share of alcohol during my 12 years of prescribed benzo use.  I never had any type of incident.  Then again, I was ignorant to the science of the benzo world.  I don't drink during my taper.  The reason is that the two are "interchangeable" when it comes to the GABA receptors.  Alcoholics are given Benzos for their recoveries.  When you drink, you are essentially up-dosing.  Will it prevent recovery?  I doubt it.  But isn't the point to come off these drugs completely in order to heal?  When you are healed, you will have the rest of your life to once again enjoy all the normalcies (sic) of life.  Until then, I don't think the risk/reward is justified.

 

Christopher

 

Are you really updosing though if you have a glass or two of wine every month or so? This is what im trying to understand...or does the alcohol just block the benzo from going where it needs to go? This whole issue confuses me because I have a few events coming up where i'd like to have a glass or 2 of wine, but if im really going to screw up my taper then I don't want to do it.

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For as much as the Ashton Manual is treated like the bible around here I think it's pretty amazing how quickly people drop the parts that don't fit in with their philosophy, like the part where it says some alcohol use it ok if the person is up to it and wants to.
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I too consumed my share of alcohol during my 12 years of prescribed benzo use.  I never had any type of incident.  Then again, I was ignorant to the science of the benzo world.  I don't drink during my taper.  The reason is that the two are "interchangeable" when it comes to the GABA receptors.  Alcoholics are given Benzos for their recoveries.  When you drink, you are essentially up-dosing.  Will it prevent recovery?  I doubt it.  But isn't the point to come off these drugs completely in order to heal?  When you are healed, you will have the rest of your life to once again enjoy all the normalcies (sic) of life.  Until then, I don't think the risk/reward is justified.

 

Christopher

 

Are you really updosing though if you have a glass or two of wine every month or so? This is what im trying to understand...or does the alcohol just block the benzo from going where it needs to go? This whole issue confuses me because I have a few events coming up where i'd like to have a glass or 2 of wine, but if im really going to screw up my taper then I don't want to do it.

 

Here are links to two sites that have helped me understand the GABA/alcohol/benzo relationship. The first link is to an article “The Role of GABA in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Anxiety and Other Neuropsychiatric Disorders.” The first page has the best information about GABA. The second page relates to the use of anti-convulsants in treating alcohol withdrawal and, to a lesser extent, benzo w/d. (not very useful information there)

 

The second link is to “How Drugs Affect Different Neurotransmitters.” It gives a description of how various drugs (alcohol, benzos, uppers, downers, etc) affect neurotransmitters. For each drug or class of drugs, it gives a simple animation of how it affects neuroreceptors.

 

http://www.vcu-cme.org/gaba2/overview.html

 

http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/i/i_03/i_03_m/i_03_m_par/i_03_m_par_alcool.html

 

 

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I drank daily before benzo's.  I stopped entirely.  Haven't had a drink in many many weeks now.  I did attempt to have a beer or two on a weekend a few weeks out of my c\t because I thought I felt better.  What followed was 2 weeks of the worst headaches yet.  I do not feel the awesomeness of beer is worth the pain after.  I will stay away from drinking at least until Christmas, if not longer.
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For as much as the Ashton Manual is treated like the bible around here I think it's pretty amazing how quickly people drop the parts that don't fit in with their philosophy, like the part where it says some alcohol use it ok if the person is up to it and wants to.

 

 

It has nothing to do with my philosophy.  It has everything to do with science as well as personal experience. 

 

"As alcohol and benzodiazepines share similar receptors, they do have some effects in common and it is a useful comparison for appreciating the overall effects of benzodiazepines to refer to the action of alcohol. Both benzodiazepines and alcohol produce 'intoxication', forgetfulness, difficulty coordinating movements, confusion, tiredness, and also cause users to lose their inhibitions, become emotionally labile and sometimes angry or aggressive. This comparison is purely to indicate the sort of effects that are to be discussed and the sort of impact benzodiazepines might have on patients using them."

 

http://www.benzo.org.uk/hindmarch.htm

 

2.Pharmacologic Effects

ETOH acts at the GABA receptor complex (which has 5 subunits)

Acts on the alpha subunit, which is the same one that Valium & other

BZDs act on

Both BZDs & ETOH disrupt fine motor control

GABA RSs in cerebellum are necessary for fine motor control,

BZDs & ETOH can interfere with these cerebellar RSs

When is bound to alpha subunit, will potentiate GABA’s effects

Lets in more Cl-, which increases the IPSP effects of GABA

ETOH also may increase the release of DA, esp. in mesolimbic pathway

(reward pathway)

may be an indirect effect, by increasing 5HT --- which then increases

release of DA in nucleus Accumbens

ETOH also inhibits the release of glutamate --- less activity in NMDA RSs

--- less memory (amnestic effects) & less neural activity (antiseizure

effects)

ETOH selectively inhibits MAO type B --- should thus be a catecholamine

Agonist

ETOH increases activity of cyclic AMP at 2nd messenger RS

 

http://psych.fullerton.edu/mwhite/475pdf/475Sedative-HypnoticsEthylAlcohol.pdf

 

My personal experience comes from the two times I have had alcohol during the intial part of my taper.  Immediate relief to w/d symptoms on that particular evening follow by pronounced symptoms the following few days.  But, please, don't take my word for it.  Try it and let us know how it works out for you. 

 

Christopher

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For as much as the Ashton Manual is treated like the bible around here I think it's pretty amazing how quickly people drop the parts that don't fit in with their philosophy, like the part where it says some alcohol use it ok if the person is up to it and wants to.

 

 

It has nothing to do with my philosophy.  It has everything to do with science as well as personal experience. 

 

"As alcohol and benzodiazepines share similar receptors, they do have some effects in common and it is a useful comparison for appreciating the overall effects of benzodiazepines to refer to the action of alcohol. Both benzodiazepines and alcohol produce 'intoxication', forgetfulness, difficulty coordinating movements, confusion, tiredness, and also cause users to lose their inhibitions, become emotionally labile and sometimes angry or aggressive. This comparison is purely to indicate the sort of effects that are to be discussed and the sort of impact benzodiazepines might have on patients using them."

 

http://www.benzo.org.uk/hindmarch.htm

 

2.Pharmacologic Effects

ETOH acts at the GABA receptor complex (which has 5 subunits)

Acts on the alpha subunit, which is the same one that Valium & other

BZDs act on

Both BZDs & ETOH disrupt fine motor control

GABA RSs in cerebellum are necessary for fine motor control,

BZDs & ETOH can interfere with these cerebellar RSs

When is bound to alpha subunit, will potentiate GABA’s effects

Lets in more Cl-, which increases the IPSP effects of GABA

ETOH also may increase the release of DA, esp. in mesolimbic pathway

(reward pathway)

may be an indirect effect, by increasing 5HT --- which then increases

release of DA in nucleus Accumbens

ETOH also inhibits the release of glutamate --- less activity in NMDA RSs

--- less memory (amnestic effects) & less neural activity (antiseizure

effects)

ETOH selectively inhibits MAO type B --- should thus be a catecholamine

Agonist

ETOH increases activity of cyclic AMP at 2nd messenger RS

 

http://psych.fullerton.edu/mwhite/475pdf/475Sedative-HypnoticsEthylAlcohol.pdf

 

My personal experience comes from the two times I have had alcohol during the intial part of my taper.  Immediate relief to w/d symptoms on that particular evening follow by pronounced symptoms the following few days.  But, please, don't take my word for it.  Try it and let us know how it works out for you. 

 

Christopher

 

I already stated that I tried it and it has worked out just fine for me, and also that it has not worked out fine for others, so it's a proceed with caution thing but it's ultimately no different than people debating caffine/coffee and sugar.  Many are ok with these things, some are not, if you'd like to have alcohol, caffine/coffee, and/or sugar then try it carefully and with an awareness that it might not work out for you.  If it does work out for you, then great, and if not, then that is unfortunate but please be aware that it may work out for others.

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Personally drinking has helped me a lot a couple drinks relaxes me an actually gives me a break through all this mess. I dont notice any difference from when I do or dont drink. If you can handle it do it!
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As much as 50% who are kicking benzos can do it with only minor discomfort. The reason why some are crippled after only 1 months use, while others can throw their medicine in the trash after 5 years is due to our individual brain chemistry.

 

It is hard for anyone (like myself) with heavy withdrawal symptoms to grasp that anyone can work through the withdrawal phase, even exercise, but again we are different, our symptoms are different. I have no problems what so ever sleeping, rarely any anxiety, but the moment I push my stress level I will have an almost epileptic like seizure where all my muscles cramp.

 

What I am saying here, is that there are only rules of thumb, and when it comes to alcohol most of us have heavy reactions the days after consuming, but some really don´t.

 

As I wrote earlier in this thread, I abstain totally from alcohol during my taper, because my reaction to alcohol even when I was just in tolerance withdrawal were pretty hard. Still I would come around in 3-4 days, and return to normal, so I continued drinking occasionally. Tapering, I am in a much worse state, so consuming now I am sure will set me back maybe several months.

 

To people afraid that the occasional drink consumed at a party a month ago, who have not experienced any real worsening in their symptoms, YOU ARE ALRIGHT!! You have not ruined your taper, and you do not have to be afraid!!

 

More important, if you more frequently use alcohol, maybe on a daily basis, and actually feel that it is helping in your taper, then you might just   as well continue using benzos. Alcohol binds to the same receptors as alcohol, and consuming is like taking a piss in your pants on a winter day to keep warm.

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I haven't been drinking much until I started Clonazepam.

Right now I am off this but I could not help myself and got pissed. Yes, I know it is bad... but I simply could not withstand feeling SO dead!!

I know I will regret tomorrow though ((.

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