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  • Taking Xanax and drinking alcohol at the same time can be harmful to your health. Health experts warn against mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines.

    Ethanol (alcohol’s main ingredient) and alprazolam (Xanax’s main ingredient) can both slow down brain activity. Combining them can make depressant effects much stronger than if they were taken individually, which can cause vital body functions to shut down.

    Alcohol is a popular recreational drink, and benzodiazepines are still commonly prescribed prescription drugs. The risk of combining them together is significant, especially among people who do not understand the risks.

    Effects Of Mixing Xanax & Alcohol

    Alprazolam and ethanol are both in the class of drugs known as central nervous system depressants. They interact with different parts of the brain, but combining them can still create dangerous drug-alcohol interactions. 

    Short-term side effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol include:

    • dizziness
    • drowsiness
    • confusion
    • impairment
    • sedation

    How The Interaction Works

    Alcohol is broken down by a set of enzymes known as P450 enzymes. Experts believe substances that go through the P450 enzyme system can increase the metabolism of benzodiazepines, even though benzos are broken down differently. 

    Increased metabolism can lead to stronger effects of Xanax, and more of Xanax ending up in your body with the same dose. A dose of Xanax that was safe may become dangerous when alcohol is involved, leading to a potential overdose.

    Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol & Xanax

    Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin likely do not cause dependence on their own. If they are taken with alcohol or other substances, negative long-term effects may be more likely.

    Benzodiazepine Overdose

    When taking benzodiazepines on their own, it can be hard to overdose even if you go over the directed amount. Most benzodiazepine overdoses involve polysubstance abuse, like opioids or alcohol taken along with Xanax.

    The effects of alcohol use can make a benzodiazepine overdose worse, which can even be life-threatening in some cases. Signs of a benzodiazepine overdose include:

    • respiratory depression (slowed or stopped breathing)
    • confusion
    • impaired coordination
    • loss of consciousness
    • low blood pressure

    Data from 2010 reported over 34% of emergency room hospitalizations due to benzodiazepines also involved alcohol. Combined alcohol and Xanax use continues to be a problem in the United States.

    Substance Use Disorders

    Drinking alcohol while taking Xanax can be a form of substance abuse. Health experts warn against mixing these substances, and some people take both at once to get increased sedative effects.

    Taking both substances at once can be a sign of a substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorders may include alcohol addiction, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms, which are all long-term health effects that can be difficult to get through.

    Many SUDs involve more than one form of substance abuse, like mixing Xanax with alcohol or mixing diazepam with painkillers. Similar to alcohol use disorders, SUDs can come with drug addiction, withdrawal, and the feeling that substance use is taking over your life.

    Treatment Options For Mixing Xanax & Alcohol

    If you have already gone through a benzodiazepine overdose, you may want to look for a treatment program to avoid further health problems. If you feel like you are at risk for an overdose, professional treatment can help you lower your risk.

    Treatment options for alcohol and benzodiazepine dependence vary, but may include a detox program for the substance you’re taking, mental health care, medication-assisted treatment, and lifestyle changes. 

    If you feel like you or a loved one could use professional treatment, contact our helpline to learn about our alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on May 21, 2022
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