Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

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Mixing Xanax and alcohol is a common yet dangerous combination. While abusing either substance independently carries significant risks, drinking on Xanax can lead to potentially lethal outcomes. This guide addresses issues that include:

  • Can you mix Xanax and alcohol?
  • What happens if you mix Xanax and alcohol?
  • Can you drink on Xanax in moderation?
  • What are the dangers of taking Xanax after drinking?

What Happens When You Mix Xanax and Alcohol?

Xanax (alprazolam) is typically regarded as safe when used within its therapeutic dosage range. That said, the risk escalates significantly when someone consumes Xanax in high doses or combines it with another substance, like alcohol, leading to dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences.

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Both alcohol and Xanax amplify the action of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – a neurotransmitter in the brain – as well as the overall activity of the central nervous system, producing a calming effect. Mixing Xanax with alcohol can cause excessive sedation, which might result in respiratory depression, cardiac arrest, and unconsciousness. The effects of alcohol are heightened by Xanax and vice-versa. Despite these risks, many people abuse both substances together seeking a more intense euphoria.

Xanax and Alcohol Interactions

Combining alcohol with Xanax intensifies the effects and side effects of both. The exact reason behind this intensified interaction remains unclear, but it may involve the chemical dynamics between Xanax and alcohol within the body. Researchers believe that ethanol, the primary component in alcoholic beverages, may raise the peak level of alprazolam in the bloodstream, amplifying both the sensation of euphoria and the adverse reactions experienced, placing additional strain on the liver as it processes both substances.

Xanax and alcohol share sedative qualities, which can lead to tiredness, sleepiness, or diminished alertness. The consumption of either can result in a feeling of lethargy. They also impact muscle function, complicating tasks involving muscle coordination and balance, such as walking or talking clearly. The sedative effects are magnified when Xanax is taken in conjunction with alcohol.

Xanax usage can cause mood swings, including feelings of depression, irritability, and confusion. In rare instances, it may lead to aggressive behaviors or suicidal ideation. Alcohol, too, influences mood differently from person to person, sometimes causing a temporary uplift but generally acting as a depressant. Alcohol tends to lower inhibitions and impair judgment, potentially leading to uncharacteristic actions. These mood and behavioral changes become more pronounced with combined use of Xanax and alcohol.

Both substances are linked to memory impairments, which are exacerbated when combined. This increased risk means that a person might not recall events that occurred while under the influence of both Xanax and alcohol.

In addition to causing fatigue and sleepiness, physical side effects from Xanax include headaches, low blood pressure, and visual disturbances. Xanax may also provoke gastrointestinal discomfort like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Alcohol shares several of these side effects, including headaches and visual problems, as well as stomach issues. The likelihood of experiencing these physical symptoms escalates with the mixture of the two.

Prolonged use of Xanax and alcohol can lead to the development of dependence, both physical and psychological, meaning that someone requires the substances for normal functioning and avoiding withdrawal, which can manifest as anxiety, irritability, and even seizures. Over time, this combination heightens the risk of various health issues, including appetite and weight changes, cognitive and memory deficits, reduced libido, depression, liver damage or failure, personality shifts, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions.

image of man representing what happens if you mix xanax and alcohol

Xanax and Alcohol Overdose

The combination of Xanax and alcohol significantly heightens the risk of overdose, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Both substances individually depress the central nervous system, but when taken together, their combined effects can lead to an overwhelming suppression of vital bodily functions.

Recognizing the signs of a Xanax and alcohol overdose can help inform prompt intervention. Symptoms may include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Unconsciousnes
  • Coma

Xanax enhances the sedative effects of alcohol, and vice-versa, provoking a dangerous decrease in heart rate and breathing. This can quickly progress to respiratory arrest, where breathing stops completely, posing immediate risk of death. The risk of choking on vomit, leading to aspiration pneumonia, is also increased when consciousness is impaired.

Act immediately in the event of a suspected Xanax and alcohol overdose:

  • Call emergency services immediately. Provide all the information you have about the substances taken, including quantities and timing.
  • Do not leave the person alone. Stay with them until help arrives, monitoring their breathing and consciousness.
  • Place the person in the recovery position (on their side, with a straight lower leg and a bent upper leg) to prevent choking, if they are unconscious but breathing.
  • Provide first responders with as much information as possible about the substances taken, including any prescription information for the Xanax and the amount of alcohol consumed.

Treatment for a Xanax and alcohol overdose focuses on supporting vital functions, especially breathing. In a medical setting, this may involve:

  • Activated charcoal to absorb the substances if the overdose was recent.
  • IV fluids to maintain hydration and support blood pressure.
  • Medications to reverse the effects of an overdose when available and appropriate.
  • Supportive care for respiratory function, including oxygen or mechanical ventilation if needed.

Preventing an overdose from occurring includes avoiding the use of alcohol and Xanax together, following prescription guidelines for Xanax, and seeking help if you or someone you know struggles with substance use. The dangers of combining these substances cannot be overstated, and understanding the risks is the first step towards safety.

inside a room at california detox representing drinking with xanax

Get Treatment for Xanax and Alcohol Addiction at California Detox

Both alcohol and Xanax withdrawal can be life-threatening without medical supervision. Sidestep these risks by choosing supervised medical detoxification at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA. Access medications and clinical care to streamline the withdrawal process and transition to ongoing treatment.

All addiction treatment programs at California Detox offer a personalized blend of therapies that combine evidence-based treatments and holistic interventions, such as:

Begin your recovery from Xanax and alcohol addiction right away by calling 949.694.8305.


Combining Xanax with alcohol increases the risk of dangerous side effects like respiratory depression, coma, and death. Both substances depress the central nervous system, triggering compounded effects when used simultaneously.
Side effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol include dizziness, drowsiness, impaired coordination, slowed breathing, and increased risk of overdose. The combination can also impair cognitive functions and decision-making abilities.


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