Substance Use

Alprazolam and Alcohol Substance Abuse

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Mixing Alcohol With Alprazolam: What Are the Dangers?

Alcohol abuse comes with risks, but when adding alprazolam (Xanax) to the mix, these dangers dramatically increase. Both substances tend to cause drowsiness and incoherence, which may result in injury and, in some cases, death. In 2018, nearly 80% of overdose deaths were caused by combining two illicit substances, which includes alcohol and the prescription drug alprazolam. 

Both alcohol and alprazolam create a sense of euphoria, often short-lived. Therefore, a person may seek to increase this feeling by mixing alcohol with alprazolam. However, due to their highly addictive natures, mixing the two may increase the risk of harmful withdrawal symptoms and overdose.

If you struggle to feel happy or normal without mixing alcohol and alprazolam, Zinnia Healing treatment centers can help. We can help you detox safely at one of our medically supervised facilities and help you rehabilitate with professional support. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to start your journey today.

What Is Alprazolam?

Alprazolam is marketed under several brand names, the most common being Xanax. Xanax binds at specific receptor sites in the central nervous system (CNS), creating depressive effects that impair thinking and movement. The severity of impairment is directly correlated with the dosage given.

This medication is absorbed into the bloodstream at peak concentrations within one to two hours of administration and has an elimination half-life of 11.2 hours. This is the amount of time it takes for the effects of alprazolam to decrease by half. In addition, drinking alcohol changes the metabolism of benzodiazepines like alprazolam, resulting in an unpredictable elimination half-life of the drug. 


Alprazolam, regularly prescribed as Xanax, is an extended-release benzodiazepine tablet used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, panic disorder is experienced by more than 4.7% of U.S. adults at some point in their lives. This condition causes a person to have acute bouts of physical discomfort out of the blue. This includes heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stomach pain. In addition, anxiety disorders cause periods of obsessive worry and fear, leading to panic attacks. Panic disorder is one of many anxiety disorders.

Due to the highly addictive nature of benzodiazepines, you may experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopping the use of alprazolam. 

Symptoms of quitting alprazolam cold turkey include:

  • Mild dysphoria
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions

The severity of withdrawal symptoms is related to how long someone has been taking alprazolam as well as the size of the dose.

Short-Term Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Alprazolam

According to the Food and Drug Administration, CNS depression multiplies when mixing alprazolam and alcohol. Therefore, they warn people using Xanax (alprazolam) to avoid simultaneous ingestion of alcohol due to decreased mental alertness.

People with underlying mental health conditions may experience the following side effects after mixing alcohol and Xanax:

  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Rage
  • Aggressive or hostile behavior
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Violent behavior

Mixing Alcohol with Xanax May Result in an Overdose

According to the National Libraries of Medicine, people who use benzodiazepines like alprazolam with other CNS depressants like alcohol run the risk of severe respiratory depression, low blood pressure, and, in some cases, death. In addition, mixing alcohol with alprazolam can increase the risk of overdose.

Xanax overdose symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or a loved one are receiving alprazolam treatment for a mental health disorder, and you are combining it with the use of alcohol despite the risks, you may need assistance quitting.

Zinnia Healing’s drug abuse treatment facilities offer drug addiction and alcohol abuse programs to treat mental health conditions and addiction simultaneously. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our professionally run facilities and our accredited programs to help you on your road to recovery.

Long-Term Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Alprazolam

There are short-term and long-term dangers of mixing Xanax and alprazolam together. One troubling complication is respiratory depression.

Respiratory depression happens when the lungs are unable to work at full capacity. This makes breathing labored. A person with respiratory depression (hypoventilation) will have difficulty breathing and suffer a decrease in oxygen and an increase in carbon dioxide. This decrease in oxygen (hypoxemia) causes injury to the brain and heart if not treated immediately.

Symptoms of hypoxia include:

  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Blue skin/lips/fingernails
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Altered mental state
  • Coma

Hypoxia is life-threatening if it isn’t treated immediately.

Symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and Xanax addiction overlap at times. It’s difficult to tell one from the other. Both addictions cause health complications that are long-term and require medication intervention. 

They include, but are not limited to:

  • Dementia: Both alcohol and alprazolam affect your memory due to their suppressive nature. Over time, one who abuses alcohol or alprazolam will have difficulty learning new things or remembering information. A small study published on the long-term effects of alprazolam on memory concluded that patients given alprazolam for agoraphobia experienced memory impairment for weeks after discontinuing use. Continued alcohol use or using alcohol in large quantities can cause blackouts and memory loss.
  • Liver damage: Your liver metabolizes both alcohol and alprazolam. Mixing both can have a devastating effect on your liver, resulting in liver injury. Alcohol abuse can cause alcoholic liver disease and cancer.
  • Physical Injury: Since alcohol and alprazolam have a depressive effect on the central nervous system, you are at a greater risk of having an accident when using them in combination.

The long-term effects of mixing alcohol with alprazolam can be damaging. It can cause disruptions in your work life, relationships, and health. If you continue to mix alprazolam with alcohol despite disclaimers, a treatment center like Zinnia Healing can help. Call (855) 430-9439 to learn more.

How to Know If You Have a Problem With Mixing Alcohol and Alprazolam

Abusing alcohol or alprazolam individually results in dangerous acute symptoms. Due to the addictive nature of these substances, they run a higher-than-normal risk for abuse. People may use both together (polysubstance use) to numb symptoms of psychiatric disorders, reduce anxiety and stress, or just to feel high.

If you notice any of the following, you may have a problem:

  • You need to feel “under the influence” every day.
  • You mix alcohol with alprazolam despite being warned of its dangers.
  • You only feel better when you mix the two.
  • You continue to drink and use drugs despite having blackouts.
  • You’d rather mix alcohol and alprazolam than seek help for a mental disorder.
  • You use alprazolam and alcohol to feel euphoric or to help you sleep.
  • You have overdosed by using both substances but continue to use them.
  • You’ve engaged in risky behavior like unprotected sex or driving under the influence.
  • Your family or friends have told you that you have a problem.

If you are using both substances together, you will need help stopping. Short-term help may come from seeking medical intervention to remedy potential deadly side effects, but long-term treatment is needed to stay sober.

Getting Help for Polysubstance Abuse From Zinnia Healing

Zinnia Healing offers treatment programs for those struggling to quit polysubstance abuse. Our team of experts focuses on you, not just your addiction, so we can offer programs tailored to meet your specific needs. We provide treatment options that include detox services, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and counseling to give you the best chance at a new start.

Reduce your risk of alcohol and alprazolam overdose by seeking help for addiction treatment at one of our fully accredited facilities today. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to begin the next step to a life of health and wellness.

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