February 23, 2024

Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

image representing xanax and alcohol

Mixing Xanax and alcohol is a common yet dangerous practice. While abusing either substance independently carries significant risks, combined Xanax and alcohol side effects can trigger potentially lethal outcomes. This guide to Xanax and drinking examines the following issues:

  • What happens when you mix Xanax and alcohol?
  • Can I drink while taking Xanax?
  • Can you drink alcohol while taking Xanax?

Xanax and Alcohol Interactions

Need Help Getting
Addiction Treatment?

Xanax, when used within its prescribed dosage, is generally safe. That said, risks arise with high doses or when it’s combined with other substances like alcohol. Both alcohol and Xanax amplify the activity of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, leading to increased sedation. This dual action can overly depress the central nervous system, potentially causing respiratory depression, cardiac arrest, and loss of consciousness. Despite these risks, some people misuse both substances together to achieve a stronger sense of intoxication.

Can You Mix Xanax and Alcohol?

Alcohol and Xanax each come with their own set of side effects that can adversely affect behavior and mental state. Combining these substances is highly dangerous and can lead to fatal consequences. When mixed with alcohol, Xanax can dramatically slow down heart rate and brain activity, or reduce breathing to a dangerously low level, triggering respiratory failure, permanent brain damage, coma, or death. 

This combination also significantly increases the chances of overdosing on Xanax, which in itself can cause life-threatening respiratory depression or seizures. The combined depressive effects on the body’s functions can be so severe that they may result in the heart or breathing stopping completely.

Xanax and Alcohol Side Effects

Combining Xanax and alcohol can have severe and dangerous side effects, as both substances act as central nervous system depressants, slowing down brain activity. This combination intensifies their effects and is associated with various adverse reactions. These are some of the most common effects of Xanax and alcohol combined:

Impaired cognitive function

Using alcohol and Xanax together can impair cognitive abilities, leading to problems with concentration, memory, and slower reaction times. This impairs the ability to perform tasks that require focus and alertness.

Increased sedation

Both substances cause drowsiness and sedation. These effects are magnified when the substances are combined, resulting in extreme lethargy and difficulty staying awake.

Respiratory depression

As central nervous system depressants, Xanax and alcohol can suppress respiratory function. Their combined use significantly increases the risk of respiratory depression, a potentially life-threatening condition.

image representing signs xanax and alcohol withdrawal

Increased risk of overdose

The simultaneous use of these substances raises the likelihood of overdose due to amplified CNS depression.

Gastrointestinal issues

Both alcohol and Xanax can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, and using them together may heighten stomach upset, nausea, and vomiting.

Mood changes

Mixing alcohol with Xanax can lead to mood swings and emotional instability, potentially worsening symptoms of depression.

Increased risk of accidents

Impaired coordination and judgment from using alcohol and Xanax together can heighten the risk of accidents, falls, and injuries.

Addiction and dependence

Concurrent use can contribute to addiction to either or both substances, complicating recovery efforts.

Liver damage

Both Xanax and alcohol are metabolized by the liver, and combining them can strain the liver, increasing the risk of liver damage over time.

Consult a healthcare professional before using Xanax or before mixing it with alcohol. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, seek professional guidance.

Xanax and Alcohol Withdrawal

Withdrawing from Xanax and alcohol can be a challenging and potentially dangerous process, especially if both substances have been used together or for an extended period. Each substance induces withdrawal symptoms that can be severe and require medical supervision.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal from Xanax, a benzodiazepine, can be intense and includes symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, seizures, and in severe cases, delirium. The severity of withdrawal depends on the duration of use and the dosage. Benzodiazepine withdrawal requires careful medical oversight due to the risk of severe symptoms, including seizures.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe and can include tremors, nausea, vomiting, headaches, increased heart rate, anxiety, irritability, and DTs (delirium tremens). DTs are a serious form of alcohol withdrawal that can be life-threatening, characterized by confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever.

Alcohol and Xanax withdrawal symptoms

When withdrawing from both Xanax and alcohol, the symptoms can overlap and intensify, making the process even more challenging. The combined effects can exacerbate anxiety, mood swings, and physical discomfort. Due to the increased risk of severe complications like seizures and DTs, medical supervision is strongly recommended.

The withdrawal process should be monitored by healthcare professionals who can provide appropriate support and interventions. This may include tapering off the substances gradually, using medication to manage withdrawal symptoms, and providing support for any underlying mental health conditions. Supervised medical detox ensures not only the safety of the individual but also increases the chances of a successful and sustainable recovery.

Xanax and Alcohol Overdose

Overdosing on a combination of Xanax and alcohol is a serious and potentially life-threatening situation. Both substances individually carry a risk of overdose, but when used together, the danger increases substantially due to their synergistic effects.

The signs of an overdose from combining Xanax and alcohol include extreme drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, diminished reflexes, respiratory depression, unconsciousness, and in severe cases, coma. The depressive effects on the central nervous system can be so profound that they lead to life-threatening respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.

Xanax is a potent benzodiazepine that depresses the central nervous system to produce a calming effect, while alcohol is a depressant that similarly slows brain activity and neural function. When taken together, their combined effects significantly increase the risk of overdose. This is because both substances amplify each other’s sedative effects, leading to an exponential increase in CNS depression.

The risk of overdose is heightened due to the unpredictability of the interaction between Xanax and alcohol. Factors like individual tolerance, the amount consumed, and the presence of other substances in the system can all influence the severity of an overdose.

In the event of a suspected overdose, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Overdose from Xanax and alcohol can rapidly progress to life-threatening conditions, meaning that prompt medical intervention is essential. Treatment for overdose usually involves supportive care to stabilize breathing and heart function, and in some cases, the administration of medications like flumazenil, which can counteract the effects of benzodiazepines.

Preventing overdose involves educating individuals about the dangers of mixing these substances and encouraging those with substance use disorders to seek professional help. Understanding the risks associated with polydrug use, and the importance of following prescription guidelines for medications like Xanax, is key to reducing the incidence of overdose.

An image of a woman using addiction hotline's to learn about the effects of xanax and alcohol

Call Addiction Hotline to Get Help for Xanax and Alcohol Addiction

If you’re struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs like Xanax or an addiction to alcohol and don’t know where to start with getting help, it’s really important to act quickly – addictions can get worse if they’re not dealt with promptly.

You can call Addiction Hotline any time, day or night. You’ll have a private talk with a trained and caring professional who will work to find the best treatment and resources for you.

If you’re ready to start your journey to recovery, the hotline staff can give you lots of different options. They can help you find local support groups, places for medical detox, live-in rehab centers, or outpatient services that are close to you.

When you feel ready to break free from addiction, just call 855-701-0479.

Want to learn more?

Table of Contents

Compassionate Care for Substance Abuse Treatment

Read More Blogs

man looking away representing xanax rehab
April 23, 2024

How to Find a Xanax Rehab

Rehab for Xanax addiction is available at varying levels of intensity at inpatient and outpatient rehab centers. Effective treatment for

image representing fentanyl rehab
April 22, 2024

How to Find a Good Fentanyl Rehab

Finding a good fentanyl rehab could be the difference between sustained recovery and repeated relapse or life-threatening overdose. Fentanyl is

image representing prescription drug rehab
April 16, 2024

How to Find a Prescription Drug Rehab

Prescription drug rehab is a process that helps people who have developed dependence on prescription medications discontinue use and initiate

image representing xanax addiction treatment
April 12, 2024

Hydrocodone Rehab

Hydrocodone is among the most commonly prescribed opioids. Like all Schedule II controlled substances, though, hydrocodone has a strong potential

image representing oxycodone rehab
April 9, 2024

Oxycodone Rehab

Rehab for oxycodone offers a highly structured pathway to recovery for those looking to achieve and maintain abstinence from opioids.

image representing hydrocodone
April 5, 2024

Hydrocodone: Side Effects, Addiction Risk, & FAQs

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller that’s commonly prescribed to manage moderate to severe pain. Despite its therapeutic properties, hydrocodone

Recent Articles

man looking away representing xanax rehab
April 23, 2024

How to Find a Xanax Rehab

Rehab for Xanax addiction is available at varying levels of intensity at inpatient and outpatient rehab centers. Effective treatment for

image representing fentanyl rehab
April 22, 2024

How to Find a Good Fentanyl Rehab

Finding a good fentanyl rehab could be the difference between sustained recovery and repeated relapse or life-threatening overdose. Fentanyl is

image representing prescription drug rehab
April 16, 2024

How to Find a Prescription Drug Rehab

Prescription drug rehab is a process that helps people who have developed dependence on prescription medications discontinue use and initiate

image representing xanax addiction treatment
April 12, 2024

Hydrocodone Rehab

Hydrocodone is among the most commonly prescribed opioids. Like all Schedule II controlled substances, though, hydrocodone has a strong potential

image representing oxycodone rehab
April 9, 2024

Oxycodone Rehab

Rehab for oxycodone offers a highly structured pathway to recovery for those looking to achieve and maintain abstinence from opioids.

image representing hydrocodone
April 5, 2024

Hydrocodone: Side Effects, Addiction Risk, & FAQs

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller that’s commonly prescribed to manage moderate to severe pain. Despite its therapeutic properties, hydrocodone