Toxicological interactions between alcohol and benzodiazepines

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2002;40(1):69-75. doi: 10.1081/clt-120002887.


We review recentfindings on the toxicological interactions between alcohol (ethanol) and benzodiazepines, and the combined use of benzodiazepines and alcohol in fatal poisoning. Acute ingestion of alcohol combined with benzodiazepines is responsible for several toxicological interactions that can have significant clinical implications. In general, metabolism of these drugs is delayed when combined with acute alcohol ingestion although some reports suggest otherwise. Alternately, the drugs metabolized during chronic alcohol ingestion have an increased clearance. The net effect may also be influenced by internal (e.g., disease, age) and external (e.g., environment, diet) factors. Fatal poisoning involving coadministration of alcohol and benzodiazepine, especially triazolam, continues to be a serious problem.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / metabolism*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Drug Interactions
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Ethanol