Using more than one drug at a time, or polysubstance use, is common. It is generally done to enhance the effects or decrease the negative effects of one or both substances. Both Valium and alcohol are central nervous system depressants which means that taking them together increases the sedative effects of each.

Polysubstance abuse can be dangerous and even fatal. With alcohol abuse and Valium abuse, there is a higher chance of addiction and overdose than taking them separately. In 2019, nearly half of drug overdose deaths involved multiple drugs. If you or a loved one are using two substances or more, you should seek help as soon as possible. The sooner you get substance abuse treatment, the easier it is.

Valium Abuse

Valium is a benzodiazepine which are prescription medications used to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and muscle spasms. Valium works by increasing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that reduces neuronal excitation and has calming and sedative effects.

Valium is a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it has a low potential for abuse compared with Schedule III substances which are defined as having a potential to lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. They were largely developed to replace the use of barbiturates for anxiety and insomnia since barbiturates were found to be extremely addictive. However, they are still significant drugs of abuse and when used for prolonged periods of time, hold a high risk of causing physical dependence.

Since Valium is an addictive substance, it should not be prescribed for longer than four weeks. However, in reality, they are widely prescribed. SAMHSA reported that over two million Americans misused tranquilizers in 2015. The exact number of people who abuse benzodiazepines is unknown.

Signs of Abusing Prescription Drugs

  • Taking more frequently or in higher doses than prescribed
  • Taking someone else’s prescription
  • Buying prescription drugs on the street
  • Using a method of taking them that was not prescribed such as snorting or injecting

Symptoms of Valium Use

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Muscular weakness
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Emotional blunting
  • Confusion
  • Depression

Anxiety and depression often co-occur. However, Valium does not have antidepressant properties. Since it depresses the nervous system, it can be dangerous when prescribed to people who have co-occurring disorders of anxiety and depression because it can exacerbate depression and suicidal behavior.

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that is generally a socially acceptable substance to take. Ethanol is the active alcohol that is found in legal alcohol drinks. Like Valium, it works by increasing the activity of GABA in the brain. Alcohol also increases dopamine and endogenous opioids in the brain’s reward pathways, causing effects of happiness, decreased anxiety, and increased sociability.

Alcohol is one of the most used and abused drugs in the United States. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 138.3 million Americans over the age of eleven drink alcohol, 66.7 million had binge drunk in the previous month, and 15.7 million people met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Although drinking alcohol is socially acceptable in the United States, it can be dangerous, increasing crime rates and health risks among those who use it.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use

  • Relaxation or drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Lower inhibitions
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness or gaps in memory

Addiction

Addiction is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a chronic brain disease that is very difficult to control. It leads to behavioral changes where those suffering compulsively seek out the substance to which they are addicted. There are risk factors that increase your chances of developing an addiction, and these include:

  • Mental health disorders
  • Genetic factors – up to half of your risk of addiction is based on genetics
  • Environmental factors – exposure to drugs
  • Family history of addiction
  • Previous personal substance use disorder
  • Childhood neglect or abuse

Dangers of Mixing Valium and Alcohol

People often mix Valium and alcohol to enhance the effects of Valium since both are central nervous system depressants. There is evidence that people with alcohol use disorders experience increased psychoactive effects from benzodiazepines so this might also be a reason for mixing them. However, mixing these substances can have negative consequences.

Effects of Combining Valium and Alcohol

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Depression
  • Brain damage

Increased Risk of Overdose

Taking Valium and alcohol together increases your risk of overdose compared to taking them alone. Both substances decrease breathing and heart rate which can lead to respiratory depression and death. Even when people survive an overdose, they may experience brain damage due to the lack of oxygen caused by respiratory depression. According to MMWR, over twenty-seven percent of visits to the emergency department related to benzodiazepine abuse also involve alcohol. Alcohol is also involved in over twenty-one percent of benzodiazepine overdoses.

Cognitive Effects

Both alcohol and Valium reduce cognition, so taking them together can lead to increased impaired judgment. Both substances also inhibit response time and motor coordination. These effects combined can be dangerous. Impaired judgment can lead you to make risky decisions such as you might cross a road dangerously, get into a fight, or try to drive. Since your response time and coordination are impaired, any of these actions carry increased risk. In 2016, over forty-three percent of drivers who died in traffic accidents tested positive for drugs, and over half of these drivers had taken more than one drug.

Effects on Health

Mixing alcohol and Valium increases the chances of serious health risks. Acute conditions include heart attack, stroke, psychosis, suicidal ideations, and seizures. Long-term conditions include cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues, liver and kidney damage, and neurological issues.

Effects on the Treatment Process

When it comes to the treatment of substance abuse disorders, this is more complicated if you abuse multiple substances. There is an increased risk of unpredictable effects which can be hard to diagnose. Even once the condition is diagnosed, it can be difficult to treat due to complicated symptoms.

Depressant Overdose

Recognizing signs of overdose can be essential in getting someone life-saving help. Common signs to look out for include:

  • Slow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blueish lips and fingernails

If you see someone experiencing an overdose, you should call 911 immediately.

Withdrawal

If you have developed a dependency on a substance, your body and brain think that they cannot function normally without it. When you stop taking the substance, you experience withdrawal symptoms which can be very unpleasant. It is common that people relapse at this point due to the discomfort and cravings they experience. Since Valium and alcohol have similar neurological effects, withdrawal symptoms are also similar.

Due to how difficult this process is, it is generally recommended to undergo a medically supervised detox. Detoxing is when you stop taking a substance so that the toxins can leave your body. As mentioned, benzodiazepines can be used to help with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are then reduced until you are clean of both. This is more complicated if you have a dependency on benzodiazepines since you will also experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. Supervised detox is especially recommended in these complicated cases. You will have twenty-four-hour support so that your mental and physical condition can be monitored and any necessary support can be given.

Shared Withdrawal Symptoms of Valium and Alcohol

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Muscle pain and aches
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts

When withdrawing from alcohol dependence, you may also experience a dangerous condition called delirium tremens. One in ten people will experience seizures during alcohol withdrawal. If these go untreated, one in ten people will develop delirium tremens. Symptoms include severe disorientation, breathing problems, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and uncontrollable restless behavior.

Acute withdrawal symptoms usually last for one week but can last longer depending on how heavily you were using. Following this, you may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms which include anxiety, depression, and drug cravings. These last from a few weeks to many months and also depend upon your substance use.

Addiction Treatment

At NP Addiction Clinic, we focus on long-term recovery by providing compassionate and comprehensive care. Addiction is different for everyone and we understand that your treatment needs are also unique to you. Polysubstance abuse is particularly complicated to treat so we offer specialized treatment to accommodate for this.

We offer state-of-the-art addiction treatment facilities with support including:

  • medical detox
  • individual and group therapy including behavioral therapies
  • family therapy
  • education
  • art, music, and recreational therapy
  • transitional support and alumni activities
  • trauma-focused therapy
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings

We understand that seeking addiction treatment is very difficult and are here to support you through this difficult time. If you are ready to seek support at substance addiction treatment services or would like more information, please visit our website to find out more or call us at (888) 574-3506.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine