Combining an anti-anxiety drug like Xanax with drinking alcohol can have serious and even deadly effects in the body. Both can promote a sense of relaxation. Xanax is a brand name for the drug Alprazolam—part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepine—and is frequently prescribed to treat anxiety, though it is also sometimes used to treat agoraphobia or as a supporting medication to an antidepressant. Xanax is the most popular benzodiazepine in the United States, with nearly 50 million active prescriptions per year.
Some people who suffer from anxiety turn to alcohol to help take the edge off. The dangerous, negative effects of combining Xanax with alcohol result because of their similarity. Both act as central nervous system depressants, and while they affect different neurotransmitters, taking both together can significantly increase the cumulative effect.
Never Drink Alcohol When Taking Xanax
The effects of combining Xanax and alcohol vary, but are seldom healthy. Rather than merely experiencing a lessening of stress, users may experience significant impairment to concentration, coordination, balance, and motor skills. Alternatively, combining Xanax and alcohol to treat a panic attack can instead trigger a much more violent panic attack, one that can even necessitate a trip to the emergency room. Other side effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol can include mood swings and irritability, and in extreme cases can result in loss of consciousness.
The relaxation provided by mixing Xanax and alcohol can also have a deadly cost. Because both tend to slow heart rate and breathing, taking a large enough dose of either one in combination with the other can result in a failure of regular signals to the lungs and heart, which can be fatal.
The Dangers of Xanax and Alcohol
The dangers of Xanax and alcohol are particularly potent for teenagers, who are likely to experience peer pressure to combine the two substances. Since a significant percentage of teenagers have been prescribed Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications, they have a ready supply of them, and according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, one in every eleven 12th graders has abused sedatives in their lifetime. If a teenager already has Xanax in his or her system and combines the drug with alcohol, the results can be deadly.
So while Xanax and alcohol may both help alleviate feelings of anxiety, they shouldn’t be taken together. If you or a loved one are struggling with feelings of stress or anxiety and consider turning to alcohol for help, talk to a professional.