To Mix or Not to Mix?

Medications like Xanax, even if prescribed, should never be taken lightly. They’re still chemical substances that should be handled with care, especially when it comes to mixing with other substances. And alcohol is no exception.

Generally, it’s better to avoid alcohol if you are taking Xanax since they both have sedative effects. So, why is it a popular combination? Because the mixture causes an intense high or feeling of euphoria. This, unfortunately, can result in a life-threatening overdose.

What is Xanax?

Another name for Xanax is Alprazolam, a powerful drug belonging to the benzodiazepine family. All benzodiazepines sedative substances, which means that they sedate or “depress” the central nervous system (CNS). Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are also a controlled schedule IV drug, making them have a high potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction.

Within the benzo family, Xanax is a prescription medication used mainly to treat a range of anxiety and panic disorders. It can also be prescribed to treat insomnia, seizures, and other nervous system-related conditions. Like other prescription drugs, especially schedule IV substances, Xanax is only prescribed for short periods of time because of its high risk of addiction.

What are the Effects of Xanax?

Xanax works by increasing the effects of a certain chemical in the brain, which induces a feeling of calm. The drug has near immediate effects and leaves the user feeling relaxed, sleepy, or calm.

Other common effects of using Xanax include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleepiness
  • Decreased feelings of panic or anxiety
  • Fatigue

Additional side effects include:

  • Difficulty with memory recall
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressive mood swings
  • Impaired coordination

What Are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Xanax?

Now that we’ve covered what Xanax is and its effects, what about mixing Xanax and alcohol? Because the substance has a high risk for addiction and other damaging effects, it’s important to know the dangers of substance mixing.

Misuse over a long period of time increases your risk of falling into addiction. And although your doctor should have discussed these warnings with you, it’s essential to only take Xanax as prescribed and never with other substances unless doctor-approved.

Mixing alcohol and Xanax for a “higher high” can result in dangerous and even life-threatening consequences. Together, Xanax and alcohol may stimulate behavioral side-effects such as rage or aggression. Other side effects of Xanax and alcohol together may include the following:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Slurred speech
  • Intense headaches
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Gastrointestinal side-effects like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blurry vision
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Memory impairment
  • Blacking out for periods of time

Because they’re both depressants, when you mix Xanax and alcohol, it amplifies the effects of both substances. As central nervous system depressants, alcohol and Xanax have a sedative effect on both the brain and body.

So, when they’re taken together, Xanax and alcohol can cause a sedative overdose. Results of this interaction can mean respiratory depression, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, seizures, brain injury, coma, or even death.

If you or someone you know has taken a combination of alcohol and Xanax, it’s imperative to call 911 immediately—do not hesitate.

Why Does an Addiction to Xanax Happen?

All genders and ages are susceptible to Xanax addiction. But there are different reasons for turning to Xanax abuse, whether it be depression or desire for weight loss, as discussed in a presentation at a SUNY Research Conference.

Xanax addiction often occurs through prolonged use and abuse. Usually, a Xanax prescription only lasts a few weeks since it’s so addictive. If you think you need an ongoing prescription for persisting symptoms, don’t take matters into your own hands—talk to your doctor about other possible solutions. Xanax abuse can quickly turn into an addictive cycle when a person decides to self-medicate with the substance. Even though it may seem like it’s helping your anxiety, you put yourself at risk for other long-term harmful effects.

Many others abuse Xanax by taking it even when it’s not prescribed to them. But prescription medications obtained on an illegal market pose a severe risk because of their unregulated status. A study in the International Journal of Legal Medicine, for example, shares a story about the death of a man who illegally purchased what he thought was Xanax, but the substance actually contained no Xanax (alprazolam) at all. These stories are more common than we think.

Even if you feel peer pressure or maybe just curiosity about the high of Xanax and alcohol, talk to someone you can trust. The dangers of recreational substance abuse with prescription-grade drugs are real, and so are the risks of their harmful effects.

Seeking Help for a Xanax Addiction?

Like many other people in your shoes, you may not realize that you have an addiction. On the other hand, you may be aware of it but decide to hide it from those around you because of shame or stigma. But there’s no shame in addiction, and there are places you can turn to for support.

If you think yourself or someone you love is struggling with a Xanax addiction, it’s important to understand the signs so you can get the help you or they need. These symptoms may include:

  • Continued Xanax use despite harmful effects
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Mood swings
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Withdrawal from friends and loved ones
  • Secretive behavior and lying
  • An obsession with obtaining Xanax at any cost
  • Risky behaviors
  • Legal or financial difficulty due to Xanax purchases
  • A desire to quit but feeling helpless in the attempt

If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional addiction treatment. Here at Pinnacle Recovery, our team can help you get begin your recovery journey and start to rebuild your life.