Mixing Xanax With Alcohol

It’s easy to assume that a prescription medication is safe, especially if it was given to you by your doctor. However, this is not necessarily the case. Every substance has risks and possible side effects that tend to become worse when the drug is misused.

This page will explain why mixing Xanax with alcohol is a particularly dangerous way of misusing this drug—with potentially deadly consequences.1

What Is Xanax (Alprazolam)?

Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine—a central nervous system depressant that works by enhancing the activity of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that effectively slows nerve impulses throughout the body. Benzodiazepines produce sedating and relaxing effects and are primarily used in the short-term management of anxiety and panic disorders.2,3

Side Effects of Xanax

While it can be extremely useful for people with these disorders, there can be adverse Xanax side effects, which may include:2,4

  • Drowsiness.
  • Lethargy.
  • Irritable mood.
  • Problems concentrating.
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Changes in sex drive.
  • Appetite and weight changes.
  • Memory problems.
  • Unusual mood changes.
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Alcohol Effects on the Body and Risks

Alcohol is a depressant substance and can produce effects similar to those of Xanax in many cases, such as:5

  • Increased feelings of relaxation.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Impaired muscle coordination.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Slowed reaction time.
  • Memory and concentration problems.
  • Slowed breathing and increased heart rate.
  • Loss of consciousness.

Why Mixing Xanax and Alcohol Is Dangerous

Xanax and alcohol both depress the central nervous system and have many similar effects on the body—and when these drugs are taken together, the effects intensify.

People taking benzodiazepines such as Xanax are cautioned to avoid alcohol while taking the drug due to the risk of fatal Xanax overdose, alcohol poisoning, and accidents.3

Overdose Risks

Using Xanax with alcohol may result in profound depression of the central nervous system (CNS), placing the individual in greater danger than if they had used Xanax or alcohol alone.1

Signs of an overdose on Xanax and alcohol may include:3,6

  • Profound confusion/stupor.
  • Loss of coordination and slowed reflexes.
  • Loss of consciousness with inability to wake up.
  • Clammy skin and low body temperature.
  • Irregular, very slow, or stopped pulse.
  • Very slow or stopped breathing.
  • Bluish tint to skin around the fingernails and lips.

Severe respiratory depression, coma, or death may result from an overdose of this drug combination.7,8

Accidents and Injuries

The risk for accidents may be much higher among those who use Xanax and alcohol together, as both drugs can cause:3

  • Impaired motor coordination.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.

Driving is especially dangerous, as the person may be unable to react quickly enough to changes on the road, may have blurry vision, may be confused, or may even fall asleep at the wheel. Driving while under the influence of either substance is risky, and your ability to operate a car safely under the influence of both may be significantly reduced.3

Falls and other injuries may also be more likely among individuals who use Xanax with alcohol. The risk is increased among elderly individuals.9

Signs Someone Is Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

People may take Xanax and alcohol together to enhance their euphoric, sedating effects, and they may not anticipate the compounding negative effects or recognize that the combination may be life-threatening.

If you suspect someone is regularly mixing Xanax and alcohol, watch for the following signs:3,5,10,11

  • Appearing drowsy very often or to an unusual degree.
  • Stumbling/falling down.
  • Slurring their words regularly.
  • Making bad decisions/showing signs of impaired judgment.
  • Not remembering events or forgetting details about them.
  • Doctor-shopping, or visiting multiple doctors for Xanax prescriptions.
  • Smelling of alcohol.

Your loved one may also begin to feel shaky and sick when unable to drink and/or use Xanax. This is Xanax and/or alcohol withdrawal and indicates physical dependence has developed to one or both substances.9

Withdrawal From Xanax and Alcohol

Withdrawal symptoms are similar for both substances and may include:9

  • Sweating.
  • Rapid pulse.
  • Hand tremors.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Inability to stay still (e.g., pacing, tapping fingers, fidgeting, etc.).
  • Hallucinations.
  • Seizures.

Withdrawal from both Xanax and alcohol can be life-threatening in some cases, and those attempting to detox off of either substance need to do so under medical supervision.

Treatment for Polydrug Addiction

The extreme dangers of combining Xanax and alcohol highlight the importance of treatment for polydrug misuse or addiction. At Desert Hope—a drug and alcohol rehab in Las Vegas—we offer a medical detox program staffed with doctors and nurses who provide 24/7 monitoring to ensure patient safety.

In this inpatient medical detox environment, you or your loved one will receive the medical care you need to safely withdraw from these drugs. Staff can also help you move forward into the next phase of treatment, since detox is rarely enough treatment for an individual to maintain their sobriety over the long term.

After medical detox, professional treatment for addiction to Xanax and alcohol may occur in one or more of the following levels of addiction treatment:

Desert Hope offers specialized treatment at each of these levels of care and can also provide treatment for co-occurring disorders. Treating concurrent mental health disorders may be particularly important for those with anxiety or panic disorders who began using Xanax with a prescription. Without treatment of the underlying mental health issues a person faces, sobriety may be especially difficult to maintain.

Call to learn more about the treatment admissions process, how to pay for rehab, and whether your insurance coverage can cover some or all of the cost of substance use treatment.

Caring admissions navigators are available 24/7 to answer your questions and walk you through the admissions process. To check your insurance coverage online, simply complete the secure now.

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