Home Drugs & Medication Xanax And Alcohol – Risks And Side Effects

Xanax And Alcohol – Risks And Side Effects

by Dr. Joe Morales

Xanax and alcohol both act as depressants and depress functions of our central nervous system, such as breathing. Using the drugs in combination may cause adverse reactions.

xanax and alcohol

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. This drug is mainly used to treat panic disorders and anxiety. Xanax is part of certain anti-anxiety drugs known as Benzodiazepines.

Like alcohol, Xanax falls under depressants which indicates it may slow down the working of the central nervous system.

Some serious side effects of taking Xanax include the following:

  • Memory problems.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Seizures

Serious side effects of drinking a lot of alcohol include the following:

  • Alcohol poisoning.
  • Impaired coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

Xanax and alcohol may produce fatal side effects when consumed together, thus enhancing the individual effects given above. Here is a brief guide to discovering Xanax and alcohol overdose, side effects, and long-term effects of combining both.

Risk And Side Effects Of Xanax And Alcohol

  1. Interaction of Xanax and alcohol

Taking Xanax and alcohol will only further intensify the side effects caused by each one of them. Researchers cannot determine the exact reason behind this, but it is most likely a result of chemical interactions occurring between Xanax and alcohol.

A study from 2018 conducted for animals suggests that ethanol, the main component present inside all alcoholic beverages, can enhance the maximum concentration of alprazolam in our bloodstream. This, in turn, can result in both enhanced side effects and enhanced high or what we know as “buzz.” Due to increased side effects, the liver has to function harder to break both Xanax and alcohol in our bodies.

  1. Sedation

Xanax and alcohol both have sedative effects on the body. They can cause impairment, drowsiness, and fatigue in our bodies. Taking any one of these can also make you feel sleepy. Consuming both only increases the complications.

Xanax and alcohol also affect the muscles. This can make balance, coordination, and muscle control more challenging than usual. You might also slur your speech or stumble while standing or walking. These dative effects can increase when you consume Xanax and alcohol together.

  1. Behavioral effects and mood

Xanax may cause irritability, confusion, and a depressed mood often. To some people, it may even lead to suicidal thoughts again and again, but it is very rare. Some other rare side effects of Xanax are hostile behavior, aggression, and rage.

Alcohol also affects your mood in a lot of different ways. For some people, it may cause a temporary boost in their mood and make them feel better, although it is categorized as a depressant. Others might experience certain negative effects, such as feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Alcohol also impairs one’s judgment along with lowering inhibitions. In general, various behavioral effects and mood changes usually increase when you take Xanax and alcohol together or within a small period. 

  1. Memory Impairment 

Both Xanax and alcohol are linked to loss of memory. This effect is a lot greater when both are combined. 

Adding both these substances may also increase the risk of blackouts. After taking alcohol with Xanax, you might not even remember what had happened to you. 

  1. Physical side effects of Xanax and alcohol

In addition to drowsiness and fatigue, some physical side effects of Xanax are blurred vision, headaches, and low blood pressure. Xanax is also linked to gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.

Drinking alcohol in excessive quantities can also cause headaches, blurred vision, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Combing both substances may increase the risk of encountering all these physical side effects. 

These symptoms are usually short-term, but Xanax and alcohol can also have prolonged symptoms; keep reading to know more. 

  1. Long-term side effects 

Long-term usages of Xanax and alcohol in combination are linked to the development of psychological and physical dependence. This indicates that your body will get used to taking Xanax and alcohol, and you will need them to perform all the functions without needing to go through withdrawal side effects. 

Some withdrawal symptoms common in such conditions include irritability, anxiety, and seizures. Although, seizures are rare. In the long term, Xanax and alcohol taken together may increase the risk for:

  • Depression. 
  • decreased sex drive
  • Memory and cognitive impairment
  • Changes in your weight due to appetite changes. 
  • Liver damage or even lead to failure.
  • Cancer
  • personality changes.
  • Heart diseases and stroke. 
  • Other severe illnesses.
  1. Xanax and alcohol overdose 

Taking Xanax and alcohol together may result in life-threatening complications. An overdose can be fatal for your condition. If you or someone else has thoughts of overdosing on Xanax and alcohol intentionally, you must help them. To do so, you can contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as they offer 24/7 support. 

There are many symptoms of overdose for which you have to call 911 t to receive help immediately. These include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • impaired reflexes
  • impaired coordination
  • confusion
  • sleepiness
  1. Death

Taking high doses or overdosing on Xanax and alcohol can be dangerous. When you combine these two, they are even likely to result in death. Alcohol levels in alcohol and Xanax-related fatalities are lower than alcohol levels in different alcohol fatalities only. 

Lethal doses of Xanax and alcohol to take 

Xanax prescriptions are given for panic disorders and anxieties, and they might range from 1 to 10 mg per day. These doses may or may not vary based on the individual’s condition and the form of Xanax prescribed by the doctor. The dose may be extended-release or immediate release. 

Even if you have used Xanax for some time now with no visible or felt issues, adding alcohol even in a small amount might trigger the side effects. 

Determining a lethal dose with no side effects depends on different factors, these include:

  • Whether or not you are taking some other medications with Xanax or alcohol. 
  • Other health problems such as liver, heart, or kidney conditions. 
  • Your age
  • Your sex
  • Your weight
  • Your tolerance to substances. 
  • Your body’s ability to metabolize or break down Xanax and alcohol. 

In short, a lethal dose for you might not be right for someone else taking the same mg of Xanax along with alcohol or without alcohol. Taking alcohol and Xanax are always harmful or detrimental to your health. Make sure you avoid it as much as possible. Even if you have an urge to drink, talk to your doctor. 

Is alcohol dangerous when combined with other benzodiazepines? 

Benzodiazepines are also called benzos in short, and they are said to possess sedative effects similar to alcohol. They could build dependence on a person leading to withdrawal symptoms if a person decides to quit. 

Some common benzodiazepines that can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol are: 

  • chlordiazepoxide or Librium
  • lorazepam or Ativan
  • clonazepam or Klonopin.
  • diazepam or Valium.
  • alprazolam or Xanax.

The side effects or risks of mixing all the benzodiazepines mentioned above with alcohol are the same as the risks mentioned in this article with Xanax. In general, these risks are physical side effects, memory impairment, behavioral and mood changes, and enhanced sedation. 

This combination of benzodiazepines like Xanax and alcohol can also increase the risk of harmful overdose. Some other drugs, including SSRIs and opioids, can also interact adversely with alcohol and benzodiazepines. 

If it is an emergency, you must visit an emergency room immediately or call 911 for help. Do not ever wait for the symptoms or signs given above to get worse. 

If you believe you or someone else you identify nearby is misusing such substances as Xanax and alcohol, sources are free to help you in difficult circumstances like these. 

Talking to a healthcare provider, like your main physician, may help you get a better insight into your options. They may also help you make better decisions to reduce your chance of severe side effects.

Your healthcare provider may assist you in finding a good treatment center, but visiting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA also presents a record of treatment centers in the area. The National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights supplementary online support for people with any drug abuse complications and their families.

Symptoms of Xanax and Alcohol Addiction

  • Encountering complexities in working at work, school, or any home-based work due to use.
  • Getting strong needs or urges for consuming Xanax.
  • Constantly needing to take less Xanax or being helpless in controlling use.
  • Stopping or cutting back on fun, socializing, or major work activities due to use.
  • Consuming a lot of time either getting, using, or rescuing yourself from Xanax.
  • Using it once it has created or worsened obstacles in relationships with everyone.
  • Using even after realizing that it has either caused or worsened a prolonged physical or psychiatric problem.
  • Using it for a prolonged time or in a more extensive amount than intended.
  • Continuous use in environments where it is critical, like while driving.
  • Growing tolerance suggests that a larger volume is required to achieve the craved effect, or there is more limited of an effect if the equivalent amount is used repeatedly.
  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms once you stop or cut back or want to proceed with taking the drug to block the onset of the before-mentioned symptoms.

How to detox safely from Xanax and alcohol 

The indications of alcohol withdrawal can vary in severity. Chronic withdrawal signs can immediately grow to be life-threatening for people who have grown a vital level of physical addiction, and, for such reason, alcohol detox applications usually involve tight medical supervision and monitoring.

Such signs can incorporate anxiety, insomnia, agitation, raised body temperature, raised heart rate, heightened blood pressure, enhanced sensitivity to sound and light, madness, hallucinations, illusions, tremblings, and seizures.

Removal from Xanax has many identical symptoms as that of alcohol removal or withdrawal from daily life needs, and it might likewise benefit from monitoring closely. Xanax withdrawal might also involve anxiety, nervousness, high heart rate, distorted sensory observation, hallucinations, etc.

Considering both Xanax and alcohol removal from the system has many similar risks and are accomplished similarly. Detox normally takes place in a therapeutic setting, which aids round-the-clock observation of symptom improvement. This also includes giving pharmacologic and other pharmaceutical interruptions when needed to keep patients safe and healthy.

Altered doses of benzodiazepine medications or, in more exceptional cases, anticonvulsant medicines may be employed to assist people to detox carefully by reducing the risk of side effects such as seizures, agitation, etc.

The Bottom Line 

Taking Xanax and alcohol can amplify each other’s negative effects. It also has the risk of increasing the chances of overdose. Overall, this is not a safe combination to consume, especially if you are dealing with anxiety, depression, etc. 

If you are using Xanax currently or considering using it, talk to your healthcare provider about the use of alcohol with it. They will be able to clear your doubts and answer additional questions that come with the usage. 


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/DAWN-SR192-BenzoCombos-2014/DAWN-SR192-BenzoCombos-2014.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538165/
  3. https://journals.lww.com/journaladdictionmedicine/Abstract/2018/02000/A_Review_of_Alprazolam_Use,_Misuse,_and_Withdrawal.2.aspx
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alprazolam


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