Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Cocaine
Xanax and cocaine are considered relative opposites, with one being a depressant and the other a stimulant.1 Xanax, the name-brand formulation of the benzodiazepine drug alprazolam, is a prescription medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders, and for the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety.2
Here you’ll learn about the effects of Xanax and cocaine when taken alone, and the adverse effects that can occur when the two substances are taken together.
Xanax, and other benzos, are central nervous system depressants, or “downers.” These drugs slow down or lower a person’s:1
- Heart rate.
- Respiration levels.
- Blood pressure.
- Body temperature.
Xanax can calm an otherwise over-excited nervous system, relieving anxiety and toning down the “fight-or-flight” stress reaction.
Benzodiazepines, often called benzos for short, may be regularly misused for their stress-reducing and mellowing “high.” Xanax may be misused orally by swallowing the drug in doses that are too high, or the tablets may be crushed and then snorted, smoked, or injected.
More than 5% of the American population (over age 12) reported misusing a psychotherapeutic prescription drug, including Xanax, over the last 12 months, according to a 2020 survey published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).3
Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug that increases:1
- Body temperature.
- Heart rate.
- Blood pressure.
Cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain, which is one of the brain’s chemical messengers responsible for feelings of pleasure. Powdered cocaine is typically used by snorting or injecting the drug, and crack cocaine is generally smoked for a quick and short-lived “high” or rush.
Considered an “upper,” cocaine may often be used in a binge pattern since it takes effect so fast and wears off quickly as well.4 Bingeing on cocaine means that an individual will take back-to-back doses to prolong the drug’s positive effects. Once cocaine wears off, a “crash” may ensue, leaving individuals:
- With low energy levels.
Research done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that over 5 million people in the U.S. reported using cocaine in the last year.5
Mixing Xanax and Cocaine: Effects and Risks
Xanax and cocaine can interact with each other, creating negative and adverse reactions and even possibly a toxic buildup of drugs in the body that can lead to a fatal overdose.
When Xanax and cocaine are taken at the same time, the effects of both drugs can be unpredictable and stronger than when each drug is taken alone. Polydrug misuse, or the misuse of more than one drug at a time, can increase the risk for the following:6
- Increased side effects of both substances
- Heightened odds for the formation of a dependency and/or addiction
- Worsened symptoms of any co-occurring medical or mental health disorders
Any underlying medical or mental health conditions or disorders can be negatively impacted by polydrug misuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports over 9 million American adults (ages 18 and older) battle co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.7 Co-occurring disorders require specialized treatment methods.
Increased Overdose Risk
Polydrug misuse can also increase the risk for a potentially life-threatening overdose. Mixing Xanax and cocaine does not cancel out the effects of each individual drug. Instead, combining the drugs may mask the effects of each drug causing a person to take more Xanax and/or cocaine. This can make overdose even more likely.6
A Xanax overdose is typically recognizable by:2
- Mental confusion.
- Diminished reflexes.
- Lack of motor coordination.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Extreme drowsiness.
Cocaine overdose can cause stroke, heart, or respiratory failure. It is indicated by:8
- Irregular heart rate.
- High blood pressure.
- Heightened body temperature.
- Possible seizures.
If you suspect someone has overdosed, call 911 immediately. A Xanax and cocaine overdose is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
Polysubstance Misuse and Addiction
There are a range of substances that may be misused together. Some examples besides Xanax and cocaine include:
Individuals may take both substances in an attempt to counteract some of the negative effects of one of the drugs. For example, cocaine use can make it difficult to sleep and can cause an intense crash that Xanax may seem to help smooth out. Cocaine may also increase energy and focus in someone taking Xanax.
Both cocaine and Xanax are addictive substances, and chronic use of either drug can lead to physical drug dependence and the psychological inability to control drug use.1,8
With physical dependence come withdrawal symptoms, which occur when the drug stops being active in the body. Individuals may turn to other drugs to try and manage these difficult withdrawal side effects. Xanax may seem to ease cocaine withdrawal, for instance.
Treatment for Polysubstance Misuse
Treatment for polysubstance misuse may be more complicated than what is required for single drug misuse and dependence, as the introduction of multiple substances may interfere with treatment methods.9
Medications are often useful during medical detox and addiction treatment, for example, and when more than one drug is present, these medications may have negative interactions with the drugs involved. Certain medications may need to be avoided altogether.
It is important for individuals to report any and all drugs used when receiving substance use treatment. A drug screen may be performed upon admission to a substance use treatment program in order to determine what drugs are in the body and to ensure the individual’s safety during detox and beyond.
Comprehensive treatment models that address both co-occurring disorders as well as any potential polydrug misuse, and use a combination of pharmaceutical and therapeutic methods, are generally considered ideal for long-term recovery.
At River Oaks Treatment Center, we offer various levels of addiction treatment and specialize in creating treatment plans tailored to each individual and their needs. If you or someone you love is struggling with the use of one or more substances, our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to help you start the admissions process.
Call us at to learn more about outpatient and inpatient rehab near Tampa at River Oaks.
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