Xanax and Alcohol Interaction

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: April 26, 2022

Alcohol is an easily available legal substance, and Xanax is a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug. Because of this, alcohol and Xanax use is widespread. Individually, both drugs are highly addictive and can have long-term damaging effects on people's lives. When taken together, the potential for abuse, addiction, and harm intensifies.

Combining Xanax with alcohol is extremely dangerous, as doing so comes with adverse consequences. As different drugs, both Xanax and alcohol have severe side effects. Once consumed in tandem, the effects can amplify, leading to harmful and sometimes fatal consequences.

Otherwise known as polydrug abuse, combining the use of multiple drugs is common, especially in party settings. While some people take Xanax and alcohol without experiencing any severe side effects, it is never recommended as it can result in fatalities and long-term health consequences.

If you are mixing Xanax with alcohol or other substances, you may have a substance use disorder. Fortunately, help is available for drug addiction. Addiction treatment will assist you in overcoming your dependency under the guidance of professional medical advice.

The journey towards a life free from substance abuse may feel daunting, but it is entirely achievable. With appropriate help, you can go on to live a healthy, drug-free future.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax, or Alprazolam as it is medically known, is often prescribed to people living with panic disorders, anxiety disorders, or insomnia. It is classified as a benzodiazepine, a class of sedative prescription medications that produce feelings of relaxation when consumed.

Other common prescription benzodiazepines include:

  • Valium (Diazepam)
  • Ativan (Lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (Clonazepam)

Although Xanax is a legal prescription medication, it is illegal to take it without a prescription as it has a high potential for abuse due to its addictive nature. There is often a misconception that prescription drugs are not harmful; however, any drug taken outside of medical guidelines can have adverse consequences.

Benzodiazepine addiction is common; it typically arises when the drug is abused. This can happen if Xanax is taken in higher doses than intended, for longer than prescribed, or without a prescription. Xanax addiction can transpire quickly, with a physical dependence developing in a matter of weeks.

You may have developed an addiction to Xanax if you need more of the drug to gain the desired effects. Likewise, an addiction may be impairing your life if you spend a significant amount of time thinking about the drug, find it difficult to function without it, or experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it.

How Can Xanax Treat Anxiety?

As a benzodiazepine, Xanax is a sedative drug commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. When consumed, Xanax works by interacting with the central nervous system as a central nervous system depressant.

As Xanax interacts with the central nervous system, brain activity reduces, which has calming effects, countering feelings of anxiety, fear, worry, and panic.

Xanax also amplifies the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a natural chemical that hinders signals in the brain that cause panic and anxiety.

What Are the Side Effects of Xanax?

Xanax abuse can result in an array of unpleasant and dangerous side effects. Short-term effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Mood problems
  • Memory impairments
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Motor-coordination difficulties
  • Weakness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma

Some of the long-term effects of Xanax abuse include:

  • Permanent memory issues
  • A higher tendency for risk-taking behavior due to lowered inhibitions
  • Lowered intelligence quotient (IQ)
  • Difficulty learning new skills
  • Problem processing new information quickly
  • Slow response time
  • Lowered attention span

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse occurs when an individual uses alcohol in an unsafe way. Over time, abusing alcohol can lead to addiction. Though many people believe that addiction will not affect them, alcohol addiction can happen to anybody.

Addiction has no singular cause. Instead, it results from a complex mix of factors such as genetics, environmental characteristics, and social pressures. Both alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction fit under the umbrella term alcohol use disorder (AUD), which ranges from mild to severe.

What Are the Side Effects of Alcohol?

Alcohol is a legal drug; however, that does not mean that it is without risks. Alcohol is highly addictive, and drinking too much can have many harmful side effects. Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant that interacts with GABA receptors to increase feelings of sedation.

Like other substances, alcohol can have serious short-term effects, such as impaired coordination, risky behaviors, vomiting, unconsciousness, and alcohol poisoning. Long-term chronic alcohol abuse can lead to liver damage, stroke, memory issues, cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, and high blood pressure.

Mixing Alcohol and Xanax

As discussed above, alcohol and Xanax both have sedative effects on the body as they are central nervous system depressants, leaving users feeling fatigued and drowsy. This means that consuming both drugs at once amplifies this sedative effect, leading to oversedation.

Oversedation is extremely dangerous as it can lead to death. Other serious side effects resulting from the increased potency of mixing Xanax and alcohol include cardiac issues, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, and the risk of a fatal overdose.

Muscle control is also negatively affected when Xanax and alcohol interact. It is also important to note that mixing these substances can lead to the following:

  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance control
  • Impaired coordination
  • Blackouts
  • Memory problems

Xanax and alcohol increase risk-taking behaviors and other behavioral effects, and the two substances together can heighten these effects.

Mixing Xanax and alcohol can additionally lead to a build-up of Xanax in the system, which can be very dangerous. This is because the liver metabolizes alcohol before Xanax, meaning Xanax leaves the body at a slower rate when taken while drinking alcohol. This can result in an increased risk of liver and kidney damage due to chronic abuse.

Getting Help for Xanax and Alcohol Abuse

Mixing Xanax and alcohol is highly dangerous and can seriously harm your health, both in the short and long term. If you are struggling with Xanax and alcohol use, you may have a substance use disorder and will need professional help in overcoming drug abuse. The good news is that with the right treatment, Xanax and alcohol addiction can be overcome.

As both Xanax and alcohol are incredibly dangerous to quit cold turkey, it is imperative that you undergo treatment with the guidance of a licensed medical professional. Failure to seek professional treatment could put you at risk of experiencing life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that could lead to relapse.

Contact Us Today

At NPAC, our team of highly skilled addiction recovery professionals, counselors, detox experts, and support staff are here to help you. If you have been mixing Xanax with alcohol, we can assist you at our treatment center.

In addition to providing addiction treatment, inpatient medical detox, and personalized treatment programs, we can also evaluate and treat mental health disorders that often cause many people to turn to substances.

If you are ready to learn more about how we can help you overcome Xanax and alcohol abuse, contact us today to find out more about our treatment process and discuss treatment.

Abusing Xanax and alcohol can have terrifying consequences, but it's never too late to find recovery. Contact our team now to start the first steps in your recovery journey.

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