We often focus on talking about how drugs and alcohol affect the body and mind on their own, but substances’ interactions with each other are also important to understand. This is because mixing certain substances can cause different effects than using one at a time, and often, those effects are more dangerous.
Two substances that are commonly abused together — and potentially very dangerous when used in this way — are Xanax and alcohol. Here, we’ll discuss why these substances are combined and why this behavior can put you at risk.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax is a one of a group of medications known as benzodiazepines, or “benzos” for short, that are prescribed to treat anxiety and psychosis. Benzos are commonly prescribed — one study observed that they were prescribed in around 15% of relevant cases — and Xanax is one of the most common and well-known.
It’s also commonly abused. Xanax is known to produce a feeling of euphoria and a warm sensation that helps people struggling with anxiety to relax, which recreational users experience as a high.
Why Would Someone Mix Xanax and Alcohol?
There are two main reasons why Xanax and alcohol are sometimes used together:
- Negligence. Because drugs like Xanax are so commonly prescribed, using them habitually, even as instructed, can become normal. If a person is also a recreational drinker, they may combine the two substances without stopping to consider that what they’re doing may put them in danger.
- As a way to enhance a high. Recreational users will mix the two to enhance the effects of both and get a stronger high with a quicker onset. They may also be combined as a way to self-medicate, because they help dull sensations of pain and sadness.
These combinations occur for very different reasons, but every scenario where Xanax and alcohol are combined carry potential risk.
What Happens When You Mix Xanax and Alcohol?
Benzos like Xanax are used in times of panic, stress, and anxiety because they calm the user down. They do this by providing a sedative effect that slows the central nervous system response, meaning that they’re part of a family of substances labelled “depressants.”
Alcohol is also a depressant, and it uses similar biological channels to slow down the body’s central nervous system and brain activity. Both substances can have serious side effects associated with them and when they are used together, it enhances the risk of experiencing these effects, including memory loss that may be permanent.
Because benzos and alcohol affect the body in similar ways, when taken together, they may also increase the risk for overdose. It’s like a person drinking double their normal amount on a night out, or taking two times the prescribed dose of Xanax. Any time dosages exceed recommended levels, the risk of taking too much and suffering adverse effects is heightened.
When It May Be Time to Seek Help
If you or a loved one find yourself mixing Xanax with alcohol, either to self-medicate or to get a stronger high, it’s time to stop and get help. It may seem like harmless behavior, but at Baystate Recovery Center, we’ve seen the consequences firsthand. Contact us today to learn about your options for treatment and how we can help you get started on the road to recovery.
Baystate Recovery Center, a clinically Infused 12-Step Treatment Center for Drug and Alcohol Addiction, was founded by two partners in addiction treatment services, John Checchi and Michael Wilson.