The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

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Using Xanax and alcohol in isolation can be harmful, but combining these substances is dangerous and potentially life-threatening, causing substance abuse.

What happens when you mix Xanax and alcohol, then?

Xanax and Alcohol Interactions

Xanax is a branded version of alprazolam, a benzodiazepine. Benzos can be highly effective for the short-term treatment of anxiety disorders and panic disorders. This class of medication is highly addictive and damaging if taken long-term.

Alcohol and Xanax are both CNS (central nervous system) depressants. As such, it slows down brain activity in the same way as alcohol.

Some serious adverse outcomes associated with using Xanax long-term include:

●  Impaired coordination

●  Memory problems

●  Seizure

Some serious adverse outcomes associated with consuming too much alcohol include:

●  Vomiting

●  Loss of motor control

●  Unconsciousness

●  Poor coordination

●  Alcohol poisoning

●  Seizure

Using a combination of Xanax and alcohol can trigger severe side effects since the effects of both substances are intensified when they are combined.

Xanax and alcohol interactions present due to the way the effects of both CNS depressants are intensified when mixed.

Researchers are uncertain why this happens. This recent animal study indicates that ethanol (alcohol) can boost the maximum concentration of Xanax in the bloodstream.

Regardless of why it happens, mixing alcohol and Xanax leads to an enhanced high.

Additionally, mixing these substances places extra strain on your liver. The organ will need to work harder to break down both substances.

Interactions triggered by mixing these central nervous system depressants depend on whether you consume more Xanax relative to alcohol or vice-versa, as follows:

●  Drinking large quantities of alcohol with moderate doses of Xanax: This combination of substances may cause you to lose consciousness quickly. Additionally, your liver will prioritize removing alcohol from your system, causing a potentially dangerous accumulation of benzodiazepines in your system.

●  Drinking moderate quantities of alcohol with large doses of Xanax: This combination of substances induces notably more sedation and lethargy. You may also experience euphoria rather than depression. Motor reflexes will also be significantly impaired.

Side Effects of Xanax and Alcohol

Alcohol and Xanax both have sedative effects causing:

●  Drowsiness

●  Fatigue

●  Impaired motor control

●  Sleepiness

Both CNS depressants also affect the following:


●  Balance

●  Muscle control

●  Speech

All the above effects are intensified when the substances are used in combination.

Physical Health Effects

Taken a benzodiazepine like Xanax can bring about the following physical complications:

●  Low blood pressure

●  Headaches

●  Blurred vision

●  Nausea

●  Vomiting

●  Diarrhea

Combining alcohol and Xanax long-term is associated with the following adverse physical outcomes:

●  Appetite changes

●  Weight loss

●  Reduced sex drive

●  Liver damage

●  Stroke

●  Heart disease

●  Cancer

●  Other chronic health conditions

Mental Health Effects

Both alcohol and Xanax can impact mood, leading to episodes of:

●  Aggression

●  Depression

●  Sadness

●  Hostility

●  Reduced inhibitions

●  Impaired judgment

Using either of these substances long-term can lead to the development of physical dependence and psychological addiction.

Combining alcohol and Xanax long-term is associated with the following adverse mental outcomes:

●  Depression

●  Personality changes

●  Memory impairments

●  Impaired cognitive functioning

●  Alcohol use disorder

●  Substance use disorder

Xanax and Alcohol Overdose

Xanax and alcohol overdose can occur as a result of using two CNS depressants in combination. The likelihood of overdosing on either alcohol or Xanax is increased during episodes of polysubstance abuse.

If you experience an overdose after mixing alcohol and Xanax, this could be deadly.

You should call 911 immediately if any of the following symptoms present after combining Xanax and alcohol:

●  Confusion

●  Sleepiness

●  Loss of coordination

●  Dull reflexes

●  Loss of consciousness

Get Help for Alcohol and Xanax

If you require treatment for addiction to alcohol or prescription medications like Xanax, we can help you at Renaissance Recovery. We offer a variety of evidence-based outpatient programs, allowing you to address the physical and psychological components of alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder.

In addition to traditional outpatient programs, access the following programs at Renaissance Recovery Center:

●  IOP: intensive outpatient program

●  PHP: partial hospitalization program

●  Virtual IOP: remote rehab

If you need a medically supervised detox – advisable for most people withdrawing from alcohol or benzodiazepines – we can connect you with licensed medical detox centers throughout Orange County and Southern California.

Whatever treatment intensity is most appropriate for your needs, you can access the following therapies and interventions at our Huntington Beach outpatient treatment center:

●  MAT (medication-assisted treatment)

●  Psychotherapies (CBT or DBT)

●  Individual counseling

●  Group therapy

●  Family therapy

●  Holistic therapies

Your treatment team will ensure you are equipped with a comprehensive aftercare plan including workable relapse prevention strategies when you complete your program at Renaissance. We’re here to help you create a strong foundation for sustained sobriety. Call 513.757.5000 for immediate assistance.

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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