Mixing Alcohol and Xanax

Xanax is the commercial trade name of the drug alprazolam, which falls under the benzodiazepine category of drugs. Benzodiazepines are Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant drugs, that produce a sedative or calming effect in people who are prescribed their use by doctors or those who take them recreationally.

However, CNS depressant drugs can have the side effect of suppressing brain activity too much, to the extent that users of these drugs may die because the parts of the brain that control breathing and heartbeat become inactive. This is called an overdose. The risk of overdose increases as the dosage of the drug increases and increases exponentially when one CNS depressant is mixed with another CNS depressant, including alcohol.


Alcohol and Xanax work independently yet interactively to reduce overall activity in the brain. They affect the same type of inhibitory brain communication chemical, effectively reducing signals in the central nervous system (CNS). This is why both drugs have a relaxing, sedative effect on the users. When taken together, the effects of each drug compound and build upon one another, leading to an increased risk of dangerous consequences.

Reduced activity in the CNS can lead to dangerous side effects, and drinking while under the influence of Xanax heightens the risk of overdose due to the dangerous, synergistic effects of each drug.

Signs and Symptoms of Concurrent Abuse

There are several signs and symptoms of concurrent Xanax and alcohol abuse that one needs to be aware of. When abused, Xanax can cause feelings of intense relaxation and even euphoria. This feeling of euphoria acts as positive reinforcement for Xanax abuse and increases one’s risk of developing an addiction. When taken with alcohol, the effects of both Xanax and alcohol are amplified.

Individuals taking both drugs at once are at risk for:

  • Vertigo
  • Syncope, or fainting
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady gait
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slow pulse
  • Slow breathing
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Impaired memory consolidation
  • Stupor
  • Coma

Xanax and alcohol potentiate the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. Heightened GABA activity leads to widespread inhibition of a number of neural processes, and results in sedation. When combined, over-sedation can occur, and can result in a complete shut-down of a few vital functions. At the top of the list for potentially fatal effects is profound respiratory depression, which is commonly experienced by concurrent benzodiazepine and alcohol users.


Proper treatment for long time concurrent alcohol and Xanax abusers requires an initial period of medically supervised detoxification. Abusing the two substances can result in a physical dependency which is difficult and dangerous to try to break alone. Without the availability of these drugs, the patient can experience withdrawal symptoms which can range from mildly uncomfortable to life threateningly dangerous.

Attempting to quit a period of long-standing alcohol and Xanax abuse without medical monitoring is never advisable. Medically assisted detox and withdrawal helps minimize the risk of experiencing potentially dangerous symptoms. A medical team, which may include physicians and nurses, will monitor the patient’s vital signs and administer appropriate medication if necessary. Completion of detox is essential for recovery to begin, yet many fear going into it because of the risks. Medically assisted detoxification can help allay these fears, ensure safety, and minimize discomfort.

Author Bio:

At the Law Office Of Phillips, Worthington and Allen P.A., we represent personal injury, DUI and criminal defense cases in Maryland. Call (301) 892-6007 now!”

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