Alprazolam and Alcohol Substance Abuse
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 like heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stomach pain. Alprazolam (Xanax) is an effective treatment when taken as prescribed, but it is commonly misused.
Both alprazolam and alcohol are central nervous system depressants and the combination can prove deadly. Some people mix them trying to intensify the sedative and impairment properties of both substances, but you can end up finding it hard to breathe, losing consciousness, or even overdosing.
Mixing alcohol with any drug is a dangerous notion, but it can feel impossible to break the habit on your own. If you’d like to learn about drug or alcohol addiction treatment, Zinnia Health can help. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to start your journey today.
What Are the Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Alprazolam?
Mixing alprazolam with alcohol can cause severe side effects. 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
Can You Drink on Alprazolam?
You should not drink alcohol when taking any kind of benzodiazepine. Alprazolam, regularly prescribed under the brand name Xanax, is an extended-release benzodiazepine tablet used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorders.
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.
Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant and the NIH has found that the combination causes “increased feelings of hostility [and] increased behavioral aggression more than would have been predicted from the sum of the single effects, confirming clinical reports of behavioral dyscontrol.”
How Long After Taking Alprazolam Can You Drink Alcohol?
You should wait at least 24 hours after taking alprazolam before drinking alcohol. This is to give your body enough time to process the drug and get it out of your system so that you do not combine the two substances.
Xanax 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.
Drinking alcohol changes the metabolism of benzodiazepines like alprazolam, resulting in an unpredictable elimination half-life of the drug. In other words, combining these two substances can increase the risk of Xanax and/or alcohol overdose. If you have an alprazolam prescription and you’re wondering if it’s safe to drink, ask your doctor.
Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Alprazolam?
Mixing alcohol with drugs is a very common form of substance abuse due to its accessibility. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 emergency room visits caused by prescription drugs like Xanax also involved alcohol.
One of the primary reasons why people mix alcohol with alprazolam is to intensify or prolong the sedative effects of these two substances. While you might initially experience a short-lasting sensation of impaired cognition as if you’ve been drinking very heavily, negative side effects can set on quickly and last for hours.
Both alcohol and Xanax also cause drowsiness and incoherence, which a person may use to help them relax or sleep. Both substance also create a sense of euphoria, which a person may seek out, especially since alcohol is so accessible. However, due to their highly addictive natures, this can increase the risk of harmful side effects and overdose.
Zinnia Health’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.
Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Alprazolam With Alcohol?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, CNS depression multiplies when mixing alprazolam and alcohol. They warn people using Xanax (alprazolam) to avoid simultaneous ingestion of alcohol due to impaired cognition and decreased alertness.
When combined, Xanax and alcohol can also lead to respiratory depression, which happens when the lungs cannot 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
- Altered mental state
What Can Happen if You Drink on Alprazolam?
There are many long-term dangers of mixing Xanax and alprazolam together, and some of these risks increase as a person continues using substances. For instance, 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.
Routinely combining these substances can also increase the risk of toxicity, which is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms of alcohol or Xanax overdose and seek medical attention immediately, as it can quickly turn fatal. The signs of overdose include:
- Loss of consciousness
What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol With Alprazolam?
People may experience the following side effects after mixing alcohol and Xanax:
- Sleep disturbances
- Aggressive or hostile behavior
- Intrusive thoughts
- Violent behavior
Due to the addictive nature of both alcohol and alprazolam, using them together runs a higher-than-normal risk for abuse. This means that physical dependence can form quickly. Once physical dependence forms, it is known as a substance use disorder (SUD), which is commonly referred to as addiction.
Once addicted, you will experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopping the use of alprazolam.
The effects of Xanax withdrawal may include:
- Mild dysphoria
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle cramps
The severity of withdrawal symptoms is related to how long someone has been taking alprazolam as well as the size of the dose.
Meanwhile, the effects of alcohol withdrawal can include:
These symptoms alone can force a person into relapse, potentially increasing the risk of a fatal overdose. This is why it’s important to never quit a substance cold turkey. Instead, if you or a loved one are dealing with substance use, help them find their way to a proper drug or alcohol rehab program.
How to Get Help For an Alprazolam Addiction
Alprazolam addiction and alcohol addiction individually are hard enough to overcome. Someone using both substances will be diagnosed with polysubstance use, which can complicate the withdrawal and recovery process.
If a person is using these drugs to numb symptoms of psychiatric disorders, reduce anxiety, or otherwise self-medicate a condition, that condition can make the treatment process even more challenging, which is why it’s important to reach out to the admissions navigators at a qualified treatment center.
If you are looking for help with mental health disorders and substance use, reach out to a healthcare professional or residential treatment facility that can provide you with the care you need to avoid life-threatening symptoms and get on the path to a healthy life.
Zinnia Health 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. If you’re ready to learn more, call us today at (855) 430-9439 and explore your treatment options in a safe, confidential conversation.