Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Simultaneous use of multiple substances can be dangerous, even when a medication has been prescribed for legitimate medical reasons. Mixing alcohol with prescription depressants like Xanax can be especially risky.

This page will go over the dangers of mixing Xanax with alcohol and how addiction to these substances can be treated.


Xanax, also known by its generic name alprazolam, is a short-acting tranquilizer in the family of benzodiazepines. It is one of the most commonly prescribed, and therefore easily accessible, medications in the US.

This medication is a Schedule IV drug, so it is controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but it is not as strictly regulated as certain medications, like prescription painkillers. Doctors often prescribe Xanax to treat:

  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Chronic stress.
  • PTSD.
  • Withdrawal symptoms from some substances, such as alcohol.

While the drug has various legitimate uses, the calming effects of Xanax can make it very addictive for some individuals.


The majority of adults over the age of 21 in the United States have consumed alcohol at some point in their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16% of U.S. adults binge drink. Of these adults, 25% do so at least once a week.

In 2019, an estimated 5.6% of U.S. adults suffered from alcohol use disorder (AUD), the clinical term for alcohol addiction.

Dangerous Effects of Xanax and Alcohol Mixed

Alcohol and Xanax are both central nervous system depressants, meaning they both affect the central nervous system and cause the body to relax. Using these two drugs together can increase the amount of alcohol in the individual’s bloodstream, so the effects of drinking are enhanced. Similarly, alcohol can introduce more Xanax into the brain faster, so that drug’s sedative effects are enhanced as well.

Even a couple of drinks can have a strong effect if a person is taking Xanax. Many people do not consider potential interactions between Xanax and alcohol if they are only having a drink or two, but that is often all it takes.

The combination of Xanax and alcohol is so potent that in some cases, Xanax is used instead of Rohypnol as a “date rape” drug. Xanax and alcohol together have a stronger amnesiac effect than Rohypnol.

Short-Term Effects of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Short-term side effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol together include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Stumbling and loss of physical coordination.
  • Memory loss.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Blackouts.
  • Loss of inhibitions.
  • Loss of sphincter control.
  • Slowed or stopped breathing.
  • Higher risk of overdose and death.

Alcohol and Xanax enhance each other’s effects, and these effects can be incredibly dangerous. Users can fall and harm themselves, choke on their own vomit if they pass out, or cause serious car accidents or other accidents if they drive, bike, or walk while impaired.

Long-Term Effects of Xanax and Alcohol

If a person continues to use both Xanax and alcohol together, the body and brain can suffer substantial damage. Long-term effects of prolonged use can be devastating. These include:

  • Long-term memory loss.
  • Dependence on the combination to feel normal.
  • Liver damage.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Chronic insomnia.
  • High blood pressure, to the point of causing damage to the blood vessels.
  • Mood swings.
  • Brain damage.
  • Ongoing risk of overdose and death.

Addiction to Xanax and Alcohol

It is common for individuals to use alcohol and Xanax together. In addition to the health effects and risks listed above, this practice can complicate the addiction treatment process.

Not every one that misuses Xanax or binge-drinks alcohol suffers from addiction. However, chronic substance use can lead to addiction.

Just a few symptoms of alcohol addiction or Xanax addiction include:

  • Expressing a desire to quit, but being unable to stop drinking or using Xanax.
  • Feeling the need to drink more in order to get the same effects.
  • Continued drinking despite negative health effects or relationship issues.
  • Using Xanax or drinking in situations where it is dangerous to do so (e.g., while driving).
  • Missing important obligations to use Xanax, drink, or recover from the effects of these substances.
  • Experiencing withdrawal when trying to quit or cease drinking or using Xanax.

Withdrawal from alcohol dependency or benzodiazepine dependency can be dangerous. In many cases, medical detox may be required during the acute withdrawal phase.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures.

Side Effects of Xanax Withdrawal

When individuals chronically use Xanax, they can suffer withdrawal symptoms if they miss a dose. These symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Mild dysphoria
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures

Chronic use of or addiction to Xanax can mimic symptoms of the disorders the medication was designed to alleviate, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches

Xanax & Alcohol Addiction Treatment

It is important for individuals abusing alcohol and Xanax, or other benzodiazepines, to get help. These two drugs can be dangerous when misused alone, and even more so when used in combination. Get help today by calling and learning more about our alcohol rehab in Tampa. Our rehab admissions navigators can help answer all of your questions, including those about using insurance to pay for rehab and other ways to pay for rehab.

Do not wait any longer. Get started on your recovery right now by filling out our to have your insurance verified within a matter of minutes.

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We are here to help you learn how to live without reaching for the next drink. Retreat to the sunny climate near Tampa, Florida for a stay at the gold standard of treatment facilities. At River Oaks, we offer customized care plans to help you on your recovery journey at our beautiful Hillsborough County campus.