Alcohol With Clonazepam Interaction

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the dangers of mixing clonazepam and alcohol.

Jul 29, 2018

jsnmde asked

I took Klonopin around 3:00pm today, and it is currently 11 pm. Is it safe to have approximately 1 ounce of alcohol? Do I have to drink a lot for there to be negative side effects or is it any trace of alcohol at any given time? All these people say very vague things but it'd be nice to have specifics. I know that I could just not drink but I'd like to. I just want to know if alcohol in small amounts has huge risks or if its simply a large amount of alcohol.


It is not recommended to combine alcohol with Klonopin (clonazepam) due to the risk of additive side effects. 

Both Klonopin and alcohol are CNS (central nervous system) depressants. The combined use of alcohol and CNS depressants like Klonopin can lead to additive CNS depression. Effects associated with CNS depression include:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Profound sedation
  • Coma
  • Death, especially with high doses or in combination with other CNS depressants

There are too many unknown factors to take into account when considering how much alcohol or how much Klonopin would be required for a clinically significant interaction. All of the following can affect the severity of the interaction:

  • Body weight (individuals that weigh more generally have higher tolerance to the effects of alcohol and Klonopin).
  • Age (older individuals generally have decreased metabolism of both alcohol and Klonopin).
  • Tolerance (how long someone has been taking/using alcohol and Klonopin is a huge factor in how it can affect them).
  • Dose of Klonopin
  • Dose of alcohol
  • Concomitant disease states
  • Liver/kidney dysfunction
  • Genetic metabolism variations
  • Food intake

While a small amount of alcohol most likely won't have serious adverse effects like respiratory depression for most individuals, there certainly could be some that are susceptible, like those who are also taking opioid pain medications.

In addition, it is common for those taking benzodiazepines (class of medication that includes Klonopin) and alcohol to under-estimate their level of inebriation. The combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines have been reported to cause a significantly increased risk of fatal accidents, such as car crashes.

Unfortunately, it is hard to give an answer that is not vague when it comes to how much alcohol may be safe with clonazepam, but when it comes to safety, it's just not a good idea to combine them until speaking with your doctor to have a better understanding of how you may react.

Alcohol After Klonopin

In terms of drinking alcohol after dosing with Klonopin, we need to take into account how long the effects of the drug last and how long it stays in the body.

The effects of Klonopin last up to 12 hours in adults. However, the half-life of the drug (time it takes for 50% to be metabolized) is approximately 19 to 50 hours in adults according to the prescribing information, meaning it takes 4-5 days to be completely eliminated from the body.

This means that even though the noticeable effects of Klonopin may wear off after 12 hours, there could still be additive effects for a few days since your last dose. At the very least, separate clonazepam from alcohol by 12 hours, and ideally, by a few days.

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