Can You Mix Alcohol and Xanax?

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The combination of alcohol and Xanax ranks among the most commonly abused drug pairings. While the misuse of either substance is detrimental to health, the concurrent use of Xanax and alcohol can have life-threatening repercussions.

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Xanax?

The combination of Xanax (alprazolam), a prescription medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, with alcohol is a dangerous practice that can have severe consequences. Both substances act as depressants of the CNS (central nervous system), and when taken together, they can amplify each other’s effects. Mixing Xanax and alcohol can trigger the following adverse outcomes:

Enhanced CNS depression

Both Xanax and alcohol have sedative effects on the CNS. When consumed together, they can significantly enhance the depressant effects, leading to a profound suppression of the nervous system. Enhanced CNS depression can result in symptoms such as extreme drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, and slowed reaction times.

Increased risk of overdose

Combining Xanax and alcohol increases the risk of overdose. When taken alone, each substance has a dose-dependent effect, but when combined, the threshold for overdose becomes much lower. Overdose symptoms may include extreme sedation, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and, in severe cases, coma or death.

Memory impairment

Both alcohol and Xanax can impair memory function independently. When used together, memory deficits can be even more pronounced. This can result in blackouts or fragmented memory of events, leading to risky behaviors and poor decision-making.

Cardiovascular risks

The combination of alcohol and Xanax can lead to changes in heart rate and blood pressure, potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular complications. Irregular heart rhythms and palpitations may occur, which can be particularly dangerous for people with pre-existing heart conditions.

Respiratory depression

Combining Xanax and alcohol can depress the respiratory system, leading to shallow breathing or, in severe cases, respiratory failure. This poses a significant risk, especially when high doses of both substances are involved.

Impaired judgment and coordination

The combination can impair judgment and coordination, increasing the likelihood of accidents, falls, and injuries.

Increased risk of addiction

Using Xanax and alcohol together can lead to a heightened risk of developing a substance use disorder for both substances. The reinforcing effects of combining these substances can make it more challenging to quit or reduce their use.

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Alcohol and Xanax Side Effects

In addition to the immediate dangers associated with mixing Xanax and alcohol, both substances have their own individual side effects. When used separately or together, these side effects can compound, leading to a range of health issues and risks.

Xanax side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness and fatigue: One of the common side effects of Xanax is drowsiness, which can make individuals feel excessively tired and lethargic.
  • Impaired coordination: Xanax can impair motor skills and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents, falls, and injuries.
  • Memory problems: Xanax can lead to memory impairment, making it difficult to recall events or tasks performed while under its influence.
  • Cognitive impairment: Xanax can cause cognitive impairment, affecting an individual’s ability to think clearly and make rational decisions.
  • Gastrointestinal distress: Nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal discomfort are reported side effects of Xanax.

Alcohol side effects include:

  • Impaired judgment: Alcohol impairs judgment, leading to risky behaviors and poor decision-making.
  • Slurred speech: Alcohol can cause slurred speech, making it difficult to communicate clearly.
  • Mood swings: Alcohol can lead to mood swings, including increased irritability and emotional instability.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Excessive alcohol consumption often results in nausea and vomiting.
  • Liver damage: Chronic alcohol use can lead to liver damage, including conditions like alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis.

Effects of Xanax and alcohol combined intensify and may include:

  • Enhanced drowsiness: Combining Xanax’s sedative effect with alcohol’s depressant properties can result in extreme drowsiness and an increased risk of falling asleep unexpectedly.
  • Memory impairment: Both substances individually impair memory, and their combination can exacerbate memory problems, leading to blackouts or fragmented memory of events.
  • Increased risk of accidents: Impaired coordination from Xanax and judgment from alcohol can significantly increase the risk of accidents, including motor vehicle accidents.
  • Gastrointestinal distress: Combining Xanax and alcohol can lead to increased gastrointestinal distress, including nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Mood swings and emotional instability: The combination of these substances can result in heightened mood swings, making emotional control more challenging.
  • Addiction risk: The reinforcing effects of using Xanax and alcohol together can increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder for both substances.

How Long Should I Wait to Drink After Taking Xanax?

It’s strongly recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol while taking Xanax. However, if you are taking Xanax and wish to consume alcohol on occasion, it’s essential to be cautious and wait a significant amount of time between taking the medication and drinking alcohol to minimize the risks.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Consult your healthcare provider: Before considering drinking alcohol while taking Xanax, consult your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific medical history and the dosage of Xanax you’re prescribed.
  • Wait at least 24 hours: To reduce the risk of adverse effects and interactions, it’s generally recommended not to consume any alcohol for 24 hours after taking Xanax. This allows the medication to be metabolized and eliminated from your system.
  • Monitor your body’s response: Even after waiting for a significant period, pay close attention to how your body reacts when you consume alcohol. Some individuals may be more sensitive to the combined effects of Xanax and alcohol, even after waiting.
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Get Treatment for Alcohol and Xanax Addiction at Ohio Recovery

At Ohio Recovery Centers, we specialize in tailored treatment plans for alcohol addiction. We can also help with a tapered reduction in Xanax dosage to help you start your recovery the right way with supervised Xanax and alcohol withdrawal.

Evidence indicates that for those with mild or moderate addiction, intensive outpatient programs can be just as effective as inpatient rehab. Intensive outpatient treatment offers greater flexibility and is more cost-effective, too.

Treatment modalities at Ohio Recovery Centers integrate pharmacological, behavioral, and holistic therapies, creating an evidence-based pathway to recovery. For immediate support addressing Xanax and alcohol addiction in Ohio, call admissions today at 877-679-2132.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn