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Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a class of prescription medications known as benzodiazepines. Doctors prescribe this medication to people with anxiety and panic disorders.
Xanax is also a central nervous system depressant, which means it slows down the nervous system. It works by enhancing the effects of the natural chemical, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), in the brain.
Xanax can be effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety. However, many people who take Xanax also drink alcohol. Unfortunately, the combination of Xanax and alcohol can be very dangerous and even cause deadly interactions.
You should only take Xanax as prescribed by your doctor. This medication can be addicting, and stopping use abruptly can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. You should also never mix Xanax and alcohol because the combination can be deadly.
In many cases, people mix Xanax and alcohol unintentionally. People with anxiety or panic disorders, such as generalized anxiety, PTSD, or social anxiety disorder, may not experience the relief they need by taking Xanax alone.
If this occurs, an individual may turn to alcohol to suppress feelings of anxiety. While this may be effective in the short-term, alcohol can make symptoms of anxiety worse in the long-run.
Alcohol and drugs can also cause panic attacks. A panic disorder is a risk factor for relapse among people struggling with a drug addiction. Alcohol abuse commonly begins before, or at the same time, panic disorder symptoms arise.
The co-occurrence of substance abuse, particularly alcohol abuse, is common among people who have social anxiety disorder. People with this disorder report that alcohol helps lessen their social anxiety, although it often makes it worse. Alcohol abuse usually develops after the onset of this disorder.
In the U.S., anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults. This increases the risk of people mixing Xanax and alcohol.
Doctors typically prescribe Xanax in the lowest effective dose to minimize any possible side effects. However, side effects can still happen.
If you experience any reactions that become severe or do not go away, contact your doctor immediately. These can include:
In rare cases, side effects can be serious and life-threatening. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately or call 911. These symptoms can include:
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This means it produces a relaxing effect on the body. However, drinking alcohol can cause many negative effects, including:
There are many health risks associated with mixing Xanax and alcohol together. Both Xanax and alcohol depress the central nervous system (CNS) by increasing the activity of GABA in the brain. This inhibitory neurotransmitter suppresses excitation in the brain, resulting in a sedative effect.
Combining both Xanax and alcohol leads to an over-sedation of the brain, which can affect basic body function and cause life-threatening problems. Xanax and alcohol work together to reduce overall activity in the brain.
Serious side effects can include extreme sedation, reduced motor coordination, extreme changes in mood and behavior, and a reduction in judgment and decision-making.
People who mix Xanax and alcohol are at risk for:
The use of Xanax and alcohol can contribute to many different medical complications, including:
Xanax and alcohol suppress the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS controls your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Combining these substances can cause an individual to stop breathing. Reduced oxygen and blood flow can also contribute to brain and organ damage.
Mixing Xanax and alcohol puts a strain on the liver and kidneys as the organs try to metabolize and rid the body of toxins.
Combining Xanax and alcohol can increase aggressive behaviors in some people.
Other risks of mixing Xanax and alcohol include:
You should completely avoid alcohol consumption when taking a benzodiazepine like Xanax.
In 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported 11,537 overdose deaths caused by benzodiazepines. The risk of overdose increases when a person combines benzodiazepines, like Xanax, with opioids or alcohol.
Signs and symptoms of a Xanax and alcohol overdose include:
Combining Xanax and alcohol often leads to drug dependence. This means your body has become dependent on the substances to function properly.
Addiction treatment for co-occurring Xanax and alcohol abuse requires medically monitored detoxification (detox) at a treatment center.
Treatment for Xanax and alcohol addiction typically occurs in an inpatient rehab center. Detoxing without medical monitoring can put a person at risk of seizures, coma, or death.
During medically monitored detox in an inpatient treatment program, professionals closely watch a person’s vital signs, monitor withdrawal symptoms, and administer medications as needed.
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