Understanding Alcohol And Xanax
Alcohol and Xanax both impact the central nervous system. They can both depress, or slow down, heart rate, blood pressure, and other essential bodily mechanisms, such as coordination and reflex responses. Because of this, while Benzodiazepines and alcohol can facilitate feelings of relaxation, they can also cause serious adverse effects.
Xanax is the brand name for Alprazolam, part of a class of substances known as Benzodiazepines. This class of drugs also includes Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. Xanax is most often prescribed for the short-term treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, and seizures. It was developed as an alternative medication to other longer-acting “Benzos” for treating anxiety, particularly generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks.
Mixing alcohol with any drug, including Xanax, can have devastating effects on the body. Mixing alcohol and Xanax heightens the sedative effects of both substances, leading to dangerous health conditions, such as respiratory depression, which can be fatal.
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What Happens When You Mix Alcohol And Xanax
Xanax intensifies the effects of alcohol, and alcohol magnifies the effects of Xanax. As a result, when taken together, alcohol and Xanax become more potent than if used separately. Combining the two severely increases the risk of:
- Excessive sedation
- Memory loss
- Impaired coordination, falls, and accidents
- Impaired judgment and decision-making
- Respiratory depression
- Cardiac problems
- Loss of consciousness
The possibility of overdose is also increased when these substances are used together.
Taking Xanax and alcohol together also increases the risk for serious short and long-term effects, including alcohol or Xanax addiction. Regarding addiction treatment, it is important to note that detoxification from alcohol and Xanax, even separately, requires medical management due to potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing from both substances concurrently is even more complicated.
Alcohol is implicated in 20 percent of Benzodiazepine-related deaths
Between 1996 and 2013, the percentage of US adults who filled a Benzodiazepine prescription increased from 4.1% to 5.6% percent, while the number of overdose deaths involving these substances increased dramatically—from 0.58 to 3.07 per 100,000 adults.
Alcohol was a factor in one in four Benzodiazepine-related visits and one-in-five Benzodiazepine-related deaths in US emergency departments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Additionally, ilicit Xanax is increasingly laced with Fentanyl. Counterfeit Xanax is a popular drug on the black market, and it is among the most copied drugs regularly seized by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA is also finding more and more ilicit Xanax mixed with Fentanyl. Per the DEA’s testing lab data, four out of every ten such pills contained dangerous levels of Fentanyl. In a September 2021 public safety alert, the DEA reported that lethal counterfeit pills are being seized at rates never before seen, with the number of pills containing Fentanyl up nearly 430% since 2019.
Using alcohol and Xanax separately can create serious problems, but mixing them can put your life at significant risk.
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Dependence And Addiction
Xanax is currently the most abused of all the Benzodiazepines. Unfortunately, many people believe that due to its prescriptive use, Xanax is “safe” to use. Addiction often takes time to build. When substance dependence develops, individuals need increasing amounts of the substance to get the same/desired effects (tolerance) and experience withdrawal when they stop using. This happens when the brain and body depend on the substance to function.
Even when taken as prescribed, individuals can quickly develop a dependence on Xanax, often within weeks with daily use. When Xanax begins to leave the body, typically within 6-8 hours after the last dose, an individual begins to experience the acute mental, emotional, and physical discomfort of withdrawal. If an individual is abusing Xanax without a prescription or taking more than prescribed, dependence and addiction can develop even more quickly.
Research indicates that daily use of Benzodiazepines for six weeks or more will result in dependency for four out of every 10 users. According to the Journal of Addictive Behaviors, as many as 44% of regular Benzodiazepine users become dependent.
Beyond physical dependence, addiction includes other symptoms, including:
- Increased use over time
- Inability to control substance use
- Giving up on important social, occupational, or recreational activities
- Continued use despite persistent social or interpersonal problems
Individuals who abuse Benzodiazepines often do so with other drugs, like alcohol. One of the most common combinations is the use of Xanax with alcohol. In a study by UC San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente Northern California, researchers found that primary care patients with unhealthy alcohol use had a 15% higher likelihood of using Benzodiazepines than moderate and non-drinkers.
When taken by heavy drinkers, Benzodiazepines may heighten the risk of overdoses and accidents and worsen psychiatric conditions.
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Find Help For Alcohol And Xanax Addiction Today
Mixing alcohol and Xanax can be a recipe for disaster. When combined, these two substances can increase the effects of each other, which can cause serious harm to the body, including fatal overdoses. The inability to refrain from alcohol or Xanax use can indicate that the body has developed a physical dependence and that an individual may have an addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol and Xanax use, it’s important to find help. Detoxing, especially from alcohol and Xanax, can be life-threatening, so it’s always recommended to do so under medical supervision. To learn more about alcohol and Xanax treatment options, contact a treatment provider today.