Often we come across news reports about the death of celebrities and common people involving drug overdose.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) reports the death of more than 200,000 people in the US from 1999 to 2016 because of overdoses related to prescription opioids and depressants. Drug overdose deaths involving prescription drugs were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999.
Alprazolam, which comes in the trade name Xanax, is one of the popular drugs for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. This drug is also highly addictive and highly susceptive to overdosing.
Nevertheless, Xanax by itself is very safe for use. It will not cause overdose issues unless one consumes it in a large amount.
However, Xanax and alcohol are a deadly combination that causes overdose effects and other fatal side effects. Similarly, combining opioid medications and benzodiazepines (a key ingredient in Xanax) increases the risk of overdose leading to emergency medical care.
Doctors strictly warn patients of the dangers of mixing alcohol and Xanax.
What is Xanax?
Alprazolam is one of the popular prescription drugs in the United States for treating anxiety and panic-related issues. Alprazolam drug is available under the brand name Xanax.
It is a psychoactive drug known as benzodiazepine. Xanax is effective in treating panic disorders, anxiety, and alcohol withdrawal issues.
Despite the warning, the regulated use of alcohol and Xanax together can help in treating alcohol withdrawal problems.
Xanax contains benzodiazepine which acts as a central nervous system depressant.
It should be noted that the abuse or combining benzodiazepine with opioids can cause dangerous and deadly side effects.
Generally speaking, benzodiazepine medications are effective for the short-term treatment of many health conditions. Importantly, it does not cause any side effects or overdosing issues if taken as prescribed by the doctor.
Unfortunately, ‘benzos’ are one of the prescription drugs widely misused because of their psychoactive effects. Another reason for its misuse is its easy availability. In many cases, abusers have easy access to this medication even without a prescription.
However, drugs like Xanax that contain benzodiazepines are very risky when taken concurrently with opioids or alcohol. The psychoactive effects of Xanax increase by several folds when it is taken along with alcohol. For this reason, many addicts of this drug mix it with alcohol.
Xanax is often mixed with other depressants to get that ‘high’ sensation. Some of the depressants that can go wrong with Xanax are:
- Hypnotic drugs (Ambien)
- Barbiturates like Nembutal and Seconal
- Opioid analgesics such as Vicodin, Morphine, Oxycontin
If you use Xanax along with other depressants, it may cause side effects like weakness, fatigue, drowsiness, and nausea. In severe cases, the interaction of Alprazolam with other depressants can result in unconsciousness, breathing difficulties, or death.
Dangers of mixing Xanax and alcohol
Importantly, alcohol acts as a depressant that influences the functions of the central nervous system.
Mixing alcohol with Xanax can increase the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This neurotransmitter is responsible for muting excitation in the brain, which causes a sedative effect. A combination of alcohol and Xanax causes over-sedation with fatal side effects.
Alcohol increases the potency of Xanax several times and produces overdosing effects. It involves the risk of excessive sedation, loss of consciousness, low rate of reparation, cardiac problems and dangerous accidents, or coma. In addition, it can cause death to the user.
The combination of both these substances is far more dangerous than each substance by itself.
Liver enzymes do the metabolization of both alcohol and alprazolam. Therefore, when these two are taken together, it takes a much longer time needed to purge them out of your system. This produces overdosing effects of alprazolam which is dangerous to health.
According to a study, increasing instances of death from overdosing on benzodiazepines occur because of mixing alcohol, Xanax, and opioid drugs.
In addition, poly-drug addiction can be complicated as such patients take a long time to respond to treatments and de-addiction programs. This kind of addiction issue can cause strong withdrawal symptoms both mentally and physically unbearable for patients.
Side effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol
A combination of alcohol and Xanax drastically reduces the overall activity in the brain by partially blocking signal reciprocations in the central nervous system. Alcohol builds upon the effects of Alprazolam leading to dangerous side effects such as:
- a low rate of respiration
- low rate of heartbeats
- slurred speech
- nausea and vomiting
- anxiety and hypertension
Role of alcohol in overdosing of Xanax
Generally, when you have Xanax as prescribed by your doctor, it is safe with no possibility of overdosing. Overdosing of this drug is not possible unless you take large doses of Xanax.
Without a doubt, mixing a large quantity of alcohol or opioids and Xanax can quickly cause an overdosing effect in your system.
You can suspect Xanax overdose if you have some of the following symptoms:
- inability to balance and coordinate your body
- strong drowsiness
- confusion and blurred vision
- muscle weakness and spasms
- difficulty in breathing
Treatment for Xanax and alcohol addiction
One of the dangerous drug addictions is getting ‘high’ by using alcohol along with benzodiazepines like Xanax or other opioid drugs.
First and foremost, admitting that you need help is the first step towards quitting any addiction.
Secondly, detoxing your system from Xanax and alcohol is the next part of your treatment. This stage is critical as you begin to experience strong withdrawal symptoms and compulsion to consume Xanax and alcohol again. Your addiction counselor and physician can help you cope with withdrawal symptoms.
As for the next step, suppress your repressing feeling that treatment for addiction to Xanax and alcohol to be overwhelming. Once again, your treatment team is the best person who can help you cope with the issue. They will try to mentally transform you into submission of yourself to sobriety and recovery.
The Bottom Line
Consuming alcohol while you have on Xanax leads to a strong depression of the central nervous system.
Alcohol magnifies the potency of Xanax and can result in several health hazards associated with overdosing on the drug. Strong depression caused by the combination of these depressants can jeopardize the several vital functions of the body like respiration and heartbeat.
An extreme overdose of alcohol and Xanax mixture causes coma or death of a person.
As life-threatening complications are sure results of mixing alcohol and Xanax, seek help and medication intervention at the earliest.