Substance Use

Mixing Phenobarbital and Alcohol: Can You Drink on Phenobarbital?

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What Are The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Phenobarbital?

Combining phenobarbital and alcohol intensifies the sedative and euphoric effects of each substance. It also reduces blood pressure and depresses brain functions that are responsible for helping the heart beat regularly. When taken in large doses, the combination can result in death.

To learn more about phenobarbital and alcohol abuse treatment programs at Zinnia Health, call us today at (855) 430-9439. Our addiction specialists are standing by 24/7 to help you navigate your treatment options and find a program that will best fit your needs, schedule, and budget.

Can You Drink on Phenobarbital?

Combining phenobarbital and alcohol is a type of drug abuse. Phenobarbital, also known under the brand name Luminal, is a prescription barbiturate.

This drug is most commonly prescribed as an anticonvulsant for people with seizure disorders. Phenobarbital is also used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms.

The FDA classifies phenobarbital as a Schedule IV controlled substance because of its high potential for abuse. This is because, like all barbiturates, users can build up a tolerance to phenobarbital, causing them to feel like they need to take higher and higher dosages to feel the same effects.

In short, you should not drink while taking phenobarbital as it increases the risks of serious side effects, including drug addiction and overdose.

How Long After Taking Phenobarbital Can You Drink Alcohol?

Phenobarbital and alcohol should not be mixed. If you are using phenobarbital, wait at least 24 hours after your last dose before drinking alcohol to ensure the medication has enough time to leave your bloodstream. If you are taking phenobarbital with a prescription, ask your doctor about when and if it’s safe to drink.

If you’re having a hard time abstaining from alcohol while taking phenobarbital, that could be a sign of an underlying alcohol use disorder. Instead of trying to quit alone, it may be time to reach out for help on recovering from alcohol addiction.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Phenobarbital?

The primary reason people drink alcohol while taking phenobarbital is to intensify the effects of both substances on the body. This can cause someone to appear extremely intoxicated, even if they have only taken a small amount of alcohol and a small dose of phenobarbital.

People who mix these two substances are after that short-term feeling of heavy intoxication, but the impaired cognition and judgment can quickly develop into respiratory suppression, loss of consciousness, organ damage, and death from overdose.

Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Phenobarbital with Alcohol?

Under no circumstances is it ever considered safe to combine phenobarbital and alcohol. Like alcohol and benzodiazepines, phenobarbital works to increase the action of the central nervous system’s neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. Most sedative drugs activate these receptors, causing drowsiness and relaxation in their users.

Alcohol reacts similarly in the central nervous system, activating the GABA receptors. This means that when alcohol and phenobarbital are taken together, they reinforce each other’s effects. As a result, the dangers can be life-threatening and culminate in toxicity or overdose.

To learn more about treatment options for substance abuse, including alcohol addiction and addiction treatment for phenobarbital abuse, contact Zinnia Health online or call us at (855) 430-9439.

What Can Happen if You Drink on Phenobarbital?

Mixing the effects of phenobarbital with the effects of alcohol can lead to intense sensations of:

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Decreased libido
  • Upset stomach
  • Feeling hungover and extremely lethargic the day after taking phenobarbital
  • Allergic reaction
  • Depressed mood
  • Agitation 
  • Tingling hands and feet
  • Burning eyes
  • Pale skin

When taken together, alcohol and phenobarbital can also produce the following, less severe, but still dangerous, side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Double vision
  • Vertigo
  • Agitation
  • Impairment
  • Loss of coordination
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Liver damage
  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Delirium tremens
  • Loss of consciousness

In rare cases, mixing phenobarbital and alcohol can cause the following severe symptoms:

  • Rash or blistering of the skin
  • Respiratory depression
  • Fever
  • Swelling of the eyes, lips, and/or cheeks
  • Death

If you or a loved one begin experiencing any of these side effects, go to the emergency department or call 9-1-1 immediately.

What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol with Phenobarbital?

Long-term use of phenobarbital can lead to soft tissue changes in the body, which can cause joint pain and thickening of the skin on the palms of the feet.

The long-term effects of alcohol and phenobarbital use are more severe and include:

  • The development of a substance use disorder
  • Cognitive deficits in children who use phenobarbital, such as learning, memory, attention, and concentration issues
  • Cognitive deficits in adults that are similar to those in children
  • Birth defects if a pregnant woman consumes phenobarbital
  • Cancer. Long-term use of phenobarbital has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer and renal cancer. When used by pregnant women, there is a risk of brain tumors in their children.
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures
  • Low blood pressure and reduced heart rate
  • Slowed, weak, or shallow breathing
  • Psychiatric effects, including agitation, confusion, panic attacks, phobias, hallucinations, depression, and mood swings
  • Early death

How to Get Help for a Phenobarbital Addiction Near Me

If you or someone you love has become dependent on phenobarbital, it can feel impossible to quit on your own. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and include flu-like symptoms along with tremors, vomiting, insomnia, nightmares, and intense cravings.

The withdrawal symptoms alone can send a person into relapse, which is why it’s recommended to go through a detox process.

A detox provides around-the-clock supervision and care from healthcare providers as well as administration of medications, such as chlordiazepoxide, lorazepam, and diazepam, to help mitigate the most severe symptoms of withdrawal. This is a critically important step to ensure the discomfort from withdrawal does not cause relapse.

If you’re ready to get help with addiction, here is some advice to help you choose the best treatment program for your needs:

  • Consider both hospital and residential rehab facilities, both of which can provide around-the-clock care but with starkly different environments
  • If you want a home-like setting, opt for an inpatient residential rehab facility where you’ll be surrounded by supportive staff and peers
  • If you are suffering from severe cravings and the potential for dangerous side effects, such as liver failure, consider recovering in a hospital setting with medical staff
  • Once you finish the detox phase, consider your inpatient and outpatient recovery program options, which are flexible enough to conform to your needs

You don’t have to go through phenobarbital and alcohol abuse and recovery alone. Zinnia Health is proud to offer a number of addiction treatment programs at our state-of-the-art treatment centers around the country. Our team of compassionate and caring addiction specialists can help you heal. Browse our addiction treatment options here or call us at (855) 430-9439.

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