Xanax, a brand name for alprazolam, and sleeping pills like Ambien (zolpidem), are sedatives that induce sleep by slowing down your brain and body functions.
The two drugs also affect mood, treat panic disorders, and help relieve anxiety and stress, which can interfere with getting quality sleep at night.
While low doses of the two prescription drugs are typically safe to take together, there are some risks and interactions you should be aware of before taking them in combination.
What Happens When You Mix Xanax And Sleeping Pills?
Sleeping pills combined with benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Klonopin can help treat sleep problems and aid sleep, but they can also be hazardous, or have fatal results.
The interactions between these two drugs can cause severe sedation and impairment and require medical advice before taking drugs.
Here’s what happens when mixing alprazolam and sleeping pills.
GABA Receptor Enhancement
Mixing Xanax and sleeping pills will enhance your body’s natural ability to produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps relax muscles.
As with benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium (diazepam), sleeping pills such as Ambien activate the neurotransmitter GABA and bind to GABA receptors in the brain.
The extra GABA activity excited by sleeping pills inhibits neuron activity associated with insomnia.
Mixing Xanax and sleeping pills means more GABA in your system, making you feel relaxed and fall asleep easier — but it may also cause sedation, which can be dangerous.
Xanax and sleeping pills or sleep aids like melatonin both help you fall asleep. This means that if you take both of these substances, you’ll likely experience excessive sedation and next-day sleepiness.
Also, taking sleeping pills alongw with Xanax increases your risk of sleepwalking. It can be dangerous if you’re driving a car or operating large machinery and feeling extremely tired.
When Xanax and sleeping pills are combined, they can cause cognitive impairment, such as lack of concentration, memory problems, and impaired judgment.
Why? Because Xanax, sleeping pills, and any other drug that increases GABA activity make you feel more relaxed and sleepy.
However, it also means that you will be dizzy and have difficulty thinking clearly.
These effects can be worse if you combine the sleep medications with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants such as antihistamines or muscle relaxants.
Risks Of Taking Xanax And Sleeping Pills Together
Drug interactions between Xanax and sleeping pills can cause unpleasant side effects and unsafe interactions, such as the following.
Drugs potentiate each other when they interact in a way that increases or enhances their effects.
Taking Xanax and sleeping pills together increases your risk of severe side effects, such as breathing problems, nausea, and vomiting.
Both drugs are central nervous system depressants that slow down brain activity.
When combined, they can cause your breathing to slow to dangerous levels or even stop altogether.
Both Xanax and sleeping pills are controlled substances, which means they’re illegal to use without a prescription.
Taking these drugs together is considered polysubstance abuse, because it involves two different types of drugs.
Mixing multiple drugs can be dangerous because you increase your risk of side effects, overdose, and Xanax addiction or sleeping pill addiction.
Overdoses involving Xanax and sleeping pills are characterized by excessive sedation, impaired mental status, and a decrease in postural stability and reflexes.
Despite the relative safety of most benzodiazepines and sleep aids, an acute overdose can cause respiratory depression and even a coma.
The most severe and dangerous side effect of taking Xanax and sleeping pills together is death.
These drugs can cause excessive sedation and slow down your breathing to dangerously low levels, resulting in brain damage, respiratory problems, and death.
Sleeping Pills That Are Commonly Mixed With Xanax
Ambien, Lunesta, Rozerem, and Sonata are among some sleeping pills that can interact with Xanax.
These prescription medications work by decreasing sleep latency — or how long it takes to fall asleep. Their sedative effects are enhanced when mixed with Xanax.
Ativan (lorazepam) is a short-acting benzodiazepine commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Combining it with Xanax can cause a dangerously deep sleep state called hypnotic sedation that may be difficult to wake from.
Melatonin is a hormone that naturally regulates sleep cycles.
This hormone supplement form (which can be bought over the counter) is often used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
However, it can cause excessive drowsiness and impaired motor skills when mixed with Xanax/
Lunesta (eszopiclone) is a nonbenzodiazepine sedative that can help you fall asleep faster. However, mixing it with Xanax can cause severe side effects like confusion and hallucinations.
Ambien (zolpidem) is a nonbenzodiazepine sedative commonly used to treat insomnia. Combining it with Xanax can cause respiratory depression and even death in some cases.
Will Dual Diagnosis Treatment Help With Xanax And Sleeping Pill Addiction?
A dual diagnosis treatment program may be an effective route if you abuse Xanax, sleeping pills, or another drug.
Dual diagnosis treatment focuses on mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia that often co-occur with addiction.
In addition to treating your drug use, inpatient and outpatient dual diagnosis programs will provide you with care for your underlying mental health problems.
Treatment Options For Xanax Abuse
While low doses of Xanax can be an effective treatment for anxiety, long-term use can lead to addiction and abuse if it’s misused.
Those seeking treatment for Xanax drug abuse will find various options available, including inpatient programs, outpatient programs, and more.
Your doctor might give prescription medications for common side effects of drug abuse, such as dry mouth and blood pressure, as well as withdrawal symptoms.
Other treatment services for a Xanax addiction could include counseling, support groups, and behavioral therapy.
Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
Bedrock Recovery Center specializes in helping people with various addictions, including opioid abuse and physical dependence on alcohol, as well as co-occurring disorders.
Contact us today to speak with one of our knowledgeable counselors about treatment options for drug or alcohol addiction.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.