Xanax And Alcohol

What Is Xanax? Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks). Xanax is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. Xanax may be habit-forming or cause drug addiction. Do not take a larger […]

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks). Xanax is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

Xanax may be habit-forming or cause drug addiction. Do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or for a longer time than your doctor tells you to. Tell your doctor if you have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, if you use or have ever used street drugs, or have overused prescription medications.

Do not drink Xanax and alcohol or use street drugs during your treatment. Drinking alcohol or using street drugs during your treatment with Xanax also increases the risk that you will experience these serious, life-threatening side effects. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had depression or another mental illness. [1]

Xanax And Alcohol
Xanax and alcohol can have dangerous side effects when taken together, enhancing their individual effects.

Xanax Side Effects

Xanax may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • Drowsiness
  • Light-headedness
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Talkativeness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased salivation
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight changes
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Joint pain

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Severe skin rash
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Confusion
  • Problems with speech
  • Problems with coordination or balance

Xanax may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Problems with coordination
  • Loss of consciousness

Mixing Xanax And Alcohol

Taking Xanax with alcohol will intensify the side effects of both substances. Both Xanax and alcohol have sedative effects. This means they can cause fatigue, drowsiness, or impairment. Taking either can leave you feeling sleepy. Both substances also affect your muscles. This can make muscle control, coordination, and balance more challenging. You might stumble while walking or slur your speech. These sedative effects increase when Xanax as an anxiety medication and alcohol are taken together.

Xanax And Alcohol Interaction

Alcohol is a substance that produces varied different effects depending on the dosage. At low doses, many individuals feel stimulated and invigorated, whereas, at more moderate to higher doses, individuals find themselves becoming more sedated or relaxed. The primary effects of alcohol are to affect the concentration of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, increasing the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter glycine (which is prevalent in the spinal cord and brain stem and decreasing actions of neural transmitters that are excitatory. Alcohol use also affects dopamine levels in the brain mostly through its influence on a particular serotonin receptor. Thus, the mechanism of action for both Xanax and other benzodiazepines and alcohol share numerous similarities. [2]

Xanax And Alcohol
Both Xanax and alcohol have sedative effects. This means they can cause fatigue, drowsiness, or impairment. Taking either can leave you feeling sleepy.

Mixing Xanax And Alcohol Side Effects

Individuals who use Xanax and alcohol together will experience the effects of both substances, but technically, the specific effects and reactions that occur as a result of using these drugs together will depend on whether one consumes more alcohol relative to Xanax or more Xanax relative to alcohol. Using larger quantities of alcohol compared to Xanax will result in significantly more lethargy and sedation; however, because mixing the drugs will result in synergistic effects, using significantly more Xanax and alcohol will also produce levels of sedation and lethargy, but individuals may also experience more euphoria as opposed to overt depression or irritability.

Thus, individuals using both drugs will experience heightened effects of anxiety reduction, sedation, lethargy, decreased motor reflexes, etc. However, individuals who consume significantly more alcohol relative to Xanax are far more likely to become unconscious or pass out quickly, although certainly, the use of both drugs in any amount can lead to unconsciousness and even comatose states. [3]

The Dangers Of Mixing Xanax And Alcohol

Numerous sources have documented the dangers of potentially mixing benzodiazepines like Xanax and alcohol. According to the book series Neuropathology of Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse, [4] these dangers include:

  • Relaxation and euphoria: The use of both drugs will immediately result in increased feelings of relaxation, a marked reduction in anxiety or perceived stress, and mild feelings of euphoria. These effects most often occur at smaller doses. As individuals take larger doses of one or both drugs, sedation typically takes over.
  • Fatigue, lethargy, and lightheadedness: Individuals taking both Xanax and alcohol will most likely experience some level of lightheadedness. This may be a result of decreased blood pressure (see below). Lightheadedness can be particularly dangerous when an individual is rising from a sitting or lying position, and the more Xanax and/or alcohol one consumes, the more significant the situation is likely to be. In addition, lightheadedness may continue after one has recovered from their substance abuse. Fatigue and lethargy are very common symptoms following the use of Xanax and alcohol together. Fatigue and lethargy can be expressed both physically and mentally with individuals moving more slowly, feeling more tired, lacking energy, and experiencing problems with concentration, thinking, and even memory.
  • Aggression and irritability: Several early studies have found that individuals who use alcohol and benzodiazepines like Xanax together are far more prone to become aggressive, irritable, and angry than individuals who use either substance alone. Even though these drugs produce increased feelings of relaxation and less vulnerability to stress, they also inhibit an individual’s ability to self-monitor their feelings and behaviors, and interfere with their ability to inhibit impulsive actions. As individuals take these drugs in greater quantities, these effects become even more salient. Individuals who have a history of issues with impulse control, anger, outbursts of anger, etc., will often demonstrate this effect rather quickly. Even individuals who do not have a history of violence or anger management issues may become more irritable and aggressive, and demonstrate outbursts of anger under the influence of these drugs.
  • Cognitive issues: Individuals taking alcohol and Xanax in combination will inevitably suffer some cognitive issues. These are dose-dependent; typically, at lower doses, an individual will feel rather “fuzzy” or “spaced out”, and they may move or think more slowly than normal. At higher doses, these effects can become far more significant.

Lethal Dose Of Xanax And Alcohol

Xanax and alcohol both depress certain central nervous system functions, such as breathing; using them together can increase the risk of severe side effects and a potentially fatal drug overdose. Combining these substances can increase the likelihood of certain symptoms such as dizziness, excessive drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, reduced motor control, falls and other injuries, erratic behavior, memory impairment, trouble breathing, respiratory arrest, and even death. [5]

Xanax And Alcohol Overdose

Alcohol overdoses may occur when areas of the brain controlling basic life-support functions—such as heart rate, breathing, and temperature control—become overwhelmed with the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream and begin to shut down. Adding Xanax, another CNS depressant, to the mix further increases the risk of such an overdose. [6]

Xanax And Alcohol Overdose Symptoms

Call 911 immediately if someone has taken alcohol and Xanax and is exhibiting the following signs of overdose:

  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Loss of consciousness
Xanax And Alcohol
Xanax and alcohol are both associated with memory loss. This effect is greater when the two substances are combined.

Alcohol Treatment

Mixing Xanax and alcohol puts you at risk for dangerous reactions. Protect yourself by avoiding alcohol if you are taking a medication and don’t know its effect. To learn more about a medicine and whether it will interact with alcohol, talk to your pharmacist or other health care provider.

Mixing any combination of prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol can be unpredictable and dangerous. Most fatal Xanax and alcohol overdoses involve the use of more than one type of drug (poly-drug use). Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol is dangerous because different drugs act on our bodies in different ways. The harmful effects are magnified by using more than one drug type. For example, the more alcohol in the body, the less heroin needed to cause an overdose.

Treatment for alcohol and drug addiction includes medications that can help people get control without a high chance of addiction. Typically, a key part of treatment is counseling or psychotherapy. It may also require withdrawal detoxification, addiction medicine, and recovery support.

Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists here at We Level Up TX. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions. Your call is private and confidential and there is never any obligation.


[1] AlprazolamU.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health
[2-4] Xanax Dangers: What Are the Risks Associated with Mixing Xanax and Alcohol? – https://americanaddictioncenters.org/xanax-treatment/mixing-with-alcohol
[5-6] The Effects of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol – https://www.alcohol.org/mixing-with/xanax/