What Happens When You Mix Xanax and Alcohol?

Many people take Xanax and drink alcohol, without understanding the risks involved. Since both substances are central nervous system depressants, mixing Xanax and alcohol can have detrimental, and even fatal, effects.

What is Xanax Used For?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is a member of the benzodiazepine drug class, which lowers overactive brain activity.

Xanax can aid in easing anxiety symptoms like agitation, difficulties concentrating, and feelings of panic or terror by slowing down the central nervous system and producing a calming effect.

Effects of Xanax

Xanax on its own can create uncomfortable side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Change in appetite
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea

It’s important to only take Xanax as prescribed by your physician, and not take more than the recommended dose. Taking Xanax as advised can reduce your risk of experiencing these side effects.

Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax is extremely addictive, which is why it is not recommended to be taken for more than a few weeks at a time.

People can build up a tolerance to Xanax, meaning that they need a higher dose at a higher frequency in order to feel the effects.

Physical dependence on the medication can occur, meaning the body doesn’t feel like it’s operating regularly without Xanax, and withdrawal symptoms appear when Xanax use is stopped.

A person can also be psychologically addicted to Xanax, and may feel hesitant or afraid to go off of Xanax, and risk feeling the full effects of their panic or anxiety disorder.

Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol can have a range of effects on the body and mind, and these effects can vary depending on the individual, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the duration of alcohol consumption.

Some common effects of alcohol include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Impaired judgment and decision making
  • Poor coordination and balance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems

Long-term heavy alcohol consumption can also lead to serious health problems, including liver damage, heart disease, and an increased risk of certain cancers. It can also worsen existing health problems and contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.


How Xanax and Alcohol Interact

Like Xanax, alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant, which can produce a sedative effect on the body. When Xanax and alcohol mix, they can create over-sedation, which can cause serious, life-threatening effects. 

When you drink alcohol while Xanax is in your system, you can feel intoxicated more quickly. Mixing Xanax and alcohol causes the effects of each substance to be heightened. 

Side Effects of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Mixing Xanax and alcohol can increase the risk of serious side effects. Some potential effects of mixing these substances include:

Drowsiness and sedation: Both Xanax and alcohol are central nervous depressants, which can cause sedation, and combining the two can increase this effect. This can impair judgment, coordination, and make a person more prone to injury and making poor decisions.

Slowed or difficulty breathing: Since both Xanax and alcohol depress the central nervous system, this can slow down breathing and heart rate, sometimes to a dangerously low rate.

Confusion and memory problems: The combination of Xanax and alcohol can impair cognitive function and cause confusion and memory problems.

Increased risk of overdose: It takes a relatively high dose of Xanax to overdose on this medication, but when combined with alcohol, the risk of overdose increases.

Combining Xanax and alcohol can increase the risk of overdose, particularly in people who are taking high doses of Xanax or who have a tolerance to the medication.

Because of these dangers, you should completely avoid alcohol while taking Xanax or other anxiety medication.


How Long After Taking Xanax is it Safe to Drink?

In order to determine how long you should wait to drink alcohol after taking a Xanax, you need to know how long Xanax stays in your system.

The half-life of Xanax is approximately 11.2 hours in healthy adults, meaning that the body removes half of the drug in that time span.

You should wait until most of the Xanax has cleared your system before drinking alcohol, and it can take up to 56 hours for Xanax to completely be out of your system.

The closer together you take Xanax and alcohol, the greater the risk of experiencing severe side effects.

Xanax and Alcohol Detox

Detoxing from alcohol and benzodiazepines can be very dangerous, and needs to be closely monitored by a medical professional.

In a medically managed detox, the patient is gradually tapered off of Xanax, and in some cases are administered a relatively longer-acting benzodiazepine before beginning the dose reduction.

Paramount Recovery Center offers a stabilization program that allows patients to detox from drugs in a safe environment.

If you are looking for a safe place to detox from Xanax in a medically supervised facility, contact our addiction treatment specialists

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