The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Xanax

Combining Alprazolam (Xanax) and Alcohol

Alprazolam is a generic name for Xanax and belongs to a family of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Other examples of benzodiazepines are Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, and Rohypnol. Alprazolam is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder and other panic disorders. Alprazolam is a central nervous system depressant which means it slows down brain activity. Serious side effects of alprazolam are seizures, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, loss of coordination, memory impairment, and depression.

Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant. It can alter a person’s mood, self-control, and behavior. Heavy drinking over a prolonged period of time can cause liver disease, heart disease, and an increased risk for cancer. Serious side effects of drinking a lot of alcohol include vomiting, loss of consciousness, impaired coordination, and seizures.

Alprazolam and alcohol, when taken together, can cause serious health issues such as dizziness, lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slow or difficulty breathing, and even cause a person to become unresponsive. In the event that Xanax and alcohol are taken together a person should immediately seek medical attention as the outcome could be deadly.

Xanax and alcohol interaction

Mixing alcohol and Xanax is extremely dangerous because the mixture intensifies the effects of both substances. People typically try to mix alcohol and Xanax in order to boost their feelings of intoxication. Xanax and alcohol side effects include sedation, mood and behavioral changes, memory impairment, as well as physical and long term effects. In extreme cases, a person may overdose resulting in a coma or even death.

Sedation

Xanax and alcohol both have sedative effects causing a person to feel fatigued, drowsy, and impaired as well as experience shallow breathing. Taking either can make a person feel tired and impact a person’s muscles. This can look like slurred speech, disorientation, and lack of coordination. The sedatives effects are increased when the two substances are taken together.

Mood and behavioral effects

Alcohol and Xanax mixed together can affect certain mood and behavioral changes. For example, the mixture can cause a person to become agitated, aggressive, excited, irritable, hostile, confused, and depressed. The combination of these two substances enhances these already extreme mood and behavioral effects.

Memory impairments

Xanax and alcohol can also cause memory impairments. According to an article published in American Family Physician, episodic memory which is remembering recent events and circumstances in the time sequence in which they occurred, becomes impaired when a person heavily drinks alcohol and uses Xanax. A person may also experience issues with their visuospatial ability and their ability to pay attention for prolonged periods of time.

Physical side effects

This substance combination can also lead to physical side effects. For example, a person might experience headaches, low blood pressure, and blurred vision. Xanax was also found to be associated with stomach issues. Combining Xanax and alcohol will increase these physical side effects.

Long-term effects

Long-term use of Xanax and alcohol is associated with an overreliance on the substance, loss of self-confidence, and varying degrees of drug-seeking behavior. Long-term Xanax and alcohol use also increase a person’s risk for experiencing changes in appetite, cognitive and memory impairments, cancer, heart disease, stroke, liver damage, depression, chronic illnesses, and behavioral changes. Other long-term effects are the development of tolerance that leads to dependence on those substances. When a person is dependent on a substance it means they develop withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using the substance.

Symptoms of dependence on alcohol and Xanax include a craving for the substances, the development of withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop, and the continued need to take the substances despite the psychological, interpersonal, and physical problems.  Symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, tremors, nightmares, rapid pulse, poor appetite, blood pressure issues, rapid breathing, fevers, and seizures.

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Xanax and alcohol overdose

Mixing Xanax and alcohol can result in a life-threatening overdose. According to a recent article, when Xanax is taken alone it is rarely fatal, however when it is ingested with alcohol the risk of overdose resulting in death is high. This is because alcohol increases the effects of Xanax resulting in decreased respiratory function and low heartbeat which can lead to a coma or even death.

Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned that in 2010, alcohol was involved in 21.4 percent of deaths involving benzodiazepine. When taking benzodiazepines like Xanax, alcohol decreases central nervous system function and increases the potential to experience an overdose.

If you or someone you love is thinking about overdosing it is important to seek help immediately. Call 911 if you suspect someone is overdosing. Xanax and alcohol overdose signs are sleepiness, confusion, impaired coordination, impaired reflexes, loss of consciousness, and death.

A lethal dose of Xanax and alcohol

Xanax prescriptions are typically given to people who experience panic or anxiety disorders. A person’s normal dose can range anywhere from 1 to 6 milligrams a day, depending on factors such as weight, age, gender, and severity of their condition.

A lethal dose of Xanax depends on a lot of different factors such as age, dose, and taking and with other substances such as alcohol.  All these factors can result in greater toxicity levels of Xanax in overdose. Also, large doses of Xanax, especially when mixed with alcohol, can cause coma, respiratory depression, and death.

Dangers of mixing alcohol with other benzodiazepines

According to an article published in The Mental Health Clinic, benzodiazepines are the most commonly abused in conjunction with other drugs. The most commonly abused drugs in conjunction with benzodiazepines are opioids with 54.2 percent of people using both and alcohol with 24.7 percent of people using alcohol and benzodiazepines together. In other words, about 1 in 5 people who abuse benzodiazepines, abuse alcohol with it.

Benzodiazepines are used to enhance the euphoric or high feelings experienced by other drugs. Individuals who use benzodiazepines with other drugs consume higher doses of benzodiazepines than people who only abuse benzodiazepines. According to the study mentioned above, alcohol was involved in 1 in 4 emergency room visits from benzodiazepine abuse and was involved in 1 in 5 of benzodiazepine related deaths. When combined with alcohol, benzodiazepines can cause decreased respiratory function which can lead to death.

Seeking medical help for an addiction

Xanax and alcohol when mixed together can result in a deadly concoction. The effects of each substance are dangerously enhanced when combined which can result in a fatal overdose. If you or someone you love is misusing or is addicted to Xanax and alcohol finding a high-quality rehabilitation clinic can help. A rehab clinic can provide you the support and resources necessary to overcome your addiction and get back to a healthy and happy life.

References

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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