Mixing Xanax and Alcohol – A Very Dangerous Cocktail

The main ingredient in Xanax is alprazolam, a potent benzodiazepine. It suppresses all the functions regulated by the central nervous system. Slowing down just one of these processes negatively affects overall health.

  • Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant that interferes with normal breathing and heart rates.
  • Mixing these two depressants doubles the effect they have on the nervous system.

Mixing just one tablet with an alcoholic drink may cause extreme drowsiness and unconsciousness, blackouts, and uncontrollable muscle tremors as the brain struggle to communicate with the body.

  • Alcohol and any benzodiazepine are among the most dangerous of all drug combinations. Even seasoned drug users tend to avoid mixing them simply because the risk of suffering from a deadly overdose is far too high.

Since this drug is fast-acting, it usually peaks in the blood within two hours of taking a dose. As a result, any calming effect of mixing it with alcohol is an uncomfortable escalation in anxiety, loss of consciousness, or both.

Taking them has the potential to produce noticeable symptoms that some users might call ‘being high.’ Still, the experience differs from the high caused by smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine, or taking prescription medications.

Both are sedatives, so mixing the two might provide a temporary sense of calm for users who suffer from severe anxiety, phobias, or other mental health conditions.

When taken on their own, benzodiazepines can cause a variety of side effects that are similar to alcohol intoxication, including;

  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • slurred speech
  • nausea
  • extreme tiredness

Mixing these two powerful drugs causes what’s known as potentiation. That means taking them magnifies the side effects of this drug and vice versa. It is why it’s not uncommon for people combining wine, beer, or spirits with benzodiazepines to experience extreme symptoms of fatigue, weakness, and confusion before blacking out. People suffering from severe anxiety and panic disorders commonly take this drug or some other benzodiazepine. They take it because anxiety and recurring panic attacks are so frightening and debilitating. As a result, they may take more than their doctor prescribes. Tolerance builds up very quickly.

  • Tolerance means higher doses are required to feel its sedative effects. When users can’t persuade their doctors to give them more than a monthly prescription at one time, they may turn to alcohol to maximize and enhance the drug’s depressant qualities.

When abusers cannot access a prescription, they will often search the streets for drug dealers selling tablets. Since they don’t know when to find their next batch of pills, abusers will usually tend to increase and lengthen the high by taking their medications with alcohol.

Even having one or two drinks while taking Xanax can cause respiratory distress, thanks to the depressant qualities of both alcohol and Xanax. If you OD on alcohol and Xanax, you may stop breathing or breath so slowly that you won’t get enough oxygen to your brain – this can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage, cardiac arrest, and death.

  • Forgetting how much of this drug and alcohol someone has ingested is the main reason for accidental overdoses.

Nervous system depressants inhibit neuronal signaling in the brain, making it hard for abusers to remember how many pills they have taken or how much alcohol they have consumed. Depressants interfere with memory. It’s possible to take two pills and quickly drink two alcoholic drinks, only to forget what they have ingested 30 minutes later.

In addition to slurred speech, confusion, and drowsiness, signs of an impending Xanax overdose include:

  • Muscle weakness/inability to stand or even sit up
  • Markedly reduced coordination
  • Hypotension (decreasing blood pressure can lead to shock)
  • Dangerously slow heartbeat and respiratory depression
  • Drooling/vomiting
  • Muscle twitching/tremors/shaking
  • Blueness to the lips and fingertips

Unless someone gets emergency medical treatment, a person overdosing could lapse into a coma or suffer cardiac arrest as the combination of depressant drugs forces cessation of nervous system processes. Therefore, the process is to pump the stomach, administer saline/IV fluids, and ensure the airway is clear of vomit are the primary treatment measures taken by ER physicians for overdose. In addition, the drug flumazenil may help reverse the effects of an overdose.

Several recent, high-profile celebrity deaths connect to a combination of alcohol and Xanax, including singers Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.