Xanax And Alcohol: Risks And Dangers Of Mixing

Xanax and alcohol are both depressants, and taking them together comes with a lot of risks and potential health complications. Abusing these two substances simultaneously can affect a person drastically in both the short term and long term.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Xanax (brand name for alprazolam) is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines and is typically prescribed to treat a person’s anxiety disorder. One of the effects of Xanax is sleepiness so it can also be used for insomnia.

Alcohol is the second-most abused substance in the world after tobacco and nicotine. It is also legal and easily obtainable to anyone over the age of 21 in the United States.

Xanax and alcohol are both considered depressants, meaning they slow down vital functions in the body and brain and have a sedative effect.

They also both possess a high potential for abuse and addiction, which is increased when they are abused together. Xanax and other substances are often mixed together for a heightened effect.

Abuse of both Xanax and alcohol poses plenty of risks. When a person mixes them together for recreational use, these risks and dangers increase exponentially.

Why It’s Dangerous To Mix Xanax And Alcohol

Even though Xanax is a popular prescription medication with proven mental health benefits, it has many dangers. Mixing Xanax with alcohol use can be a dangerous combination.

Heightens Effects Of Both Substances (Potentiation)

When a person is taking two or more drugs that heighten each other’s effects, it is called drug potentiation.

Because alcohol and Xanax are both central nervous system depressants, they tend to strengthen each other’s effects.

Drug potentiation can be especially dangerous when the drugs involved have similar side effects.

Instead of leveling out each other’s effects, they will instead amplify them to a potentially uncomfortable and dangerous level.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol and Xanax are two drugs that are known for having some of the worst withdrawal symptoms.

It is generally recommended that a person experiencing withdrawal from either of these substances go through detox at a professional healthcare center for addiction.

Withdrawal from Xanax can be life-threatening, as can alcohol withdrawal. Both drugs must be tapered off at a rate that is both safe and comfortable.

Additional medications are usually required during the detox process in order to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal.

Polysubstance Dependence And Addiction

When someone is dependent or addicted to two or more drugs at the same time, it is called polysubstance dependence and addiction.

Not surprisingly, this condition can be even more dangerous than an addiction to a single substance.

In the case of polysubstance abuse, a person will become addicted to the way they feel while using both substances together.

Using one of the drugs alone will no longer satisfy them or give them their desired result.

Overdose Death

Both alcohol and Xanax work by slowing down brain and bodily functions, including a person’s breathing.

When a person takes high doses of both substances, they can lose consciousness and actually stop breathing.

Alcohol and Xanax should never be taken together, even when Xanax is taken in an amount that has been prescribed by a medical professional.

Short-Term Side Effects Of Mixing Xanax And Alcohol

The short-term side effects of Xanax and alcohol abuse can be severe and even deadly. A person could overdose from their very first time using these substances together.

Dangerous side effects of combining alcohol and Xanax include:

  • respiratory depression
  • decreased heart rate
  • decreased blood pressure
  • blurred vision
  • drowsiness and sleepiness
  • erratic behavior
  • loss of consciousness
  • blackouts
  • overdose

Long-Term Effects Of Mixing Xanax And Alcohol

The effects of alcohol and Xanax addiction in the long term can be very serious and detrimental to a person’s mental and physical health.

Some of these effects include:

  • memory loss
  • cirrhosis of the liver
  • high risk of delirium tremens
  • substance use disorder
  • polysubstance abuse
  • panic attacks
  • anxiety and depression
  • suicidal thoughts

Treating A Dual Diagnosis Of Xanax And Alcohol Addiction

A Xanax and alcohol addiction treatment program will always begin with a period of medically monitored detox, as these are two of the most dangerous substances to withdraw from.

Someone should never attempt to detox from both drugs without medical supervision.

Treatment options for Xanax and alcohol addiction include:

  • residential inpatient treatment
  • intensive outpatient treatment
  • individual therapy
  • family therapy
  • group therapy
  • medication management
  • medication-assisted treatment
  • medical detox

Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or a loved one is struggling with polydrug abuse involving Xanax and alcohol, it is important that you get help as soon as possible.

We are here to help you get started at Bedrock Recovery Center.

Our treatment specialists are experts in drug abuse and addiction treatment, and they can answer any and all questions that you have. There is hope for recovery — call our treatment center today.

  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/cycle-alcohol-addiction
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684001.html
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/018276s052lbl.pdf

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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