December 11, 2023

Is Mixing Xanax and Alcohol Dangerous?

A man sits outside after learning about What happens when you mix xanax and alcohol

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, while alcohol is among the most abused addictive substances in the United States. The misuse of either substance carries risks, but mixing Xanax and alcohol can escalate potential consequences to life-threatening levels. Read on to discover:

  • Can you drink on Xanax?
  • What happens if you mix Xanax and alcohol?
  • Are Xanax and alcohol interactions dangerous?

What Happens When You Mix Xanax and Alcohol?

When used within its therapeutic dosage range, Xanax is generally considered safe. That said, high doses of Xanax or its combination with CNS depressants like alcohol can lead to dangerous and potentially lethal interactions.

Both alcohol and Xanax enhance the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, intensifying overall central nervous system activity and inducing a sedative effect. Combining Xanax with alcohol can trigger over-sedation, leading to respiratory depression, cardiac arrest, and loss of consciousness.

Despite these risks, some people who misuse both substances seek a heightened state of intoxication by intensifying the effects of alcohol and Xanax.

A woman in the car looking troubled, feeling Xanax and alcohol side effects

Alcohol and Xanax Side Effects

Xanax and alcohol side effects can be dangerous. Alcohol and Xanax both act as central nervous system depressants, which means that they slow down brain activity. When taken together, the effects can be intensified, leading to a range of adverse side effects.

Increased sedation

Both alcohol and Xanax can cause drowsiness and sedation. When combined, these effects can be magnified, leading to extreme lethargy and difficulty staying awake.

Impaired cognitive function

The combination of alcohol and Xanax is associated with impaired cognitive function, including difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and slowed reaction times. This can significantly impact a person’s ability to perform tasks that require focus and alertness.

Respiratory depression

Central nervous system depressants like Xanax can suppress respiratory function. When combined with alcohol, there is an increased risk of respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.

Increased risk of overdose

The simultaneous use of alcohol and Xanax raises the risk of overdose. Both substances can amplify each other’s effects, leading to a dangerous level of CNS depression.

Gastrointestinal issues

Alcohol and Xanax can both irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Combining them may increase the likelihood of stomach upset, nausea, and vomiting.

Mood changes

Mixing alcohol with Xanax can exacerbate mood swings and increase the risk of emotional instability. This combination may intensify feelings of sadness or inflame symptoms of depression.

Increased risk of accidents

Impaired coordination and judgment resulting from the combination of alcohol and Xanax can lead to an increased risk of accidents, falls, and other injuries.

Addiction and dependence

Concurrent use of alcohol and Xanax can contribute to the development of addiction and dependence on either or both substances. This can complicate the treatment process and increase the challenges of achieving long-term recovery.

Liver damage

Both alcohol and Xanax are metabolized by the liver. Combining them may put extra strain on the liver, potentially leading to liver damage over time.

Medical emergency

In severe cases, the combination of alcohol and Xanax can result in a medical emergency, including respiratory failure or overdose. Prompt medical attention is crucial if someone exhibits signs of distress or overdose.

Consult with a healthcare professional before using Xanax or combining it with alcohol. Any potential risks and side effects should be thoroughly discussed, and individuals should be aware of the importance of using these substances responsibly and as prescribed. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, seeking professional help is recommended.

What to Do If You Mixed Xanax and Alcohol

If you or someone you know has unintentionally mixed Xanax and alcohol, take prompt and appropriate action to ensure safety. Combining these substances can lead to severe consequences, including respiratory depression and overdose. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Seek medical help immediately: Call 911 for immediate assistance. Provide information about the substances ingested, their quantities, and any observable symptoms.
  • Do not wait for symptoms to worsen: Even if there are no immediate signs of distress, seek medical attention promptly. The effects of combining Xanax and alcohol can escalate rapidly.
  • Refrain from further substance use: Avoid consuming additional Xanax or alcohol. Inform medical professionals about any other medications or substances that might have been taken.
  • Stay calm and monitor vital signs: While waiting for medical help, try to keep the person calm. Monitor their vital signs, such as breathing and heart rate, and be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.
  • Provide relevant information to medical professionals: Share details about any pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, or medications the person is taking. Be honest about the circumstances surrounding the ingestion of Xanax and alcohol.
  • Be prepared to discuss mental health: If applicable, be ready to discuss co-occurring mental health concerns or issues that may have contributed to the substance use. This information can assist medical professionals in providing appropriate care.
  • Supportive measures: Depending on the severity of the situation, medical professionals may administer supportive treatments such as intravenous fluids, activated charcoal, or medications to counteract the effects.
  • Follow-up care: After the immediate crisis is addressed, follow any recommendations provided by healthcare professionals for ongoing care, monitoring, or treatment.

Remember that mixing Xanax and alcohol can have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences. Seeking immediate medical attention is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcome in such situations. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, seek help from healthcare professionals or addiction specialists to address the root causes and develop a plan for recovery.

FAQs

Can I drink alcohol while taking Xanax?

Combining Xanax with alcohol can be dangerous. Both substances depress the central nervous system, and their combined effects may lead to severe drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination. Avoid consuming alcohol while taking Xanax to prevent potential complications.

Can drinking on Xanax hurt you?

Yes, drinking alcohol while taking Xanax can be harmful. Both substances have sedative effects that can intensify when used together, increasing the risk of respiratory depression, overdose, and other serious side effects. Follow medical advice and abstain from alcohol while using Xanax to ensure safe and effective treatment.

How long after taking Xanax can I drink?

Although Xanax has a relatively short half-life, it is still advisable to wait a significant amount of time after taking the medication before consuming alcohol. The exact duration may vary based on individual factors and dosage, so consult with your prescribing physician to determine a safe interval and receive personalized guidance based on specific circumstances.

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Get Treatment for Alcohol and Xanax Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

At Gratitude Lodge, we treat Xanax addiction and alcohol addiction at our pet-friendly facilities located in Newport Beach and Long Beach, California.

Both alcoholism and benzo addiction typically require supervised detoxification. You can access medications and continuous care when you engage with our medical detox program. Having addressed the issue of physical dependence, you can move into ongoing residential treatment for the most immersive recovery experience.

All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs account for the unique nature of addictions by delivering personalized therapies, such as:

Take action today and begin your recovery from Xanax and alcohol addiction tomorrow by calling 888-861-1658.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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