Addiction Warnings

What Happens If You Mix Xanax And Alcohol?

Xanax is a prescription medicine used to treat the symptoms of anxiety, panic disorder, and anxiety associated with depression. Xanax works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. Xanax slows down the movement of brain chemicals that may have become unbalanced, resulting in a reduction in nervous tension and anxiety. Xanax works by boosting the effects of a natural chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is made in the brain.

Xanax is especially addictive when misused (taken recreationally or other than as directed). Anyone can become addicted to Xanax. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Xanax use can result in tolerance, addiction, and dependence if taken in large quantities or used for a prolonged period. Even people who take the medication exactly as prescribed can become addicted to it without realizing it.

Xanax is a federal controlled substance (C-IV) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Keep this medicine in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away Xanax may harm others, and is against the law. Tell your healthcare provider if you have abused or been dependent on alcohol, prescription medicines or street drugs.

What happens if you mix xanax and alcohol?

Fatal side effects can occur if you mix or take Xanax with alcohol, opioid medicine, or other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing. According to a healthline article, researchers don’t know exactly why this happens. It likely has to do with the chemical interactions between Xanax and alcohol in the body.

2018 animal study suggests the presence of ethanol, the main ingredient in alcoholic drinks, can increase the maximum concentration of alprazolam in the bloodstream. In turn, this can cause both an enhanced high or “buzz” as well as enhanced side effects. The liver also needs to work harder, since it breaks down both alcohol and Xanax in the body.

Sedation: Both Xanax and alcohol have sedative effects. This means they can cause fatigue, drowsiness, or impairment. Taking either can leave you feeling sleepy. Both substances also affect your muscles. This can make muscle control, coordination, and balance more challenging. You might stumble while walking or slur your speech. These sedative effects increase when Xanax and alcohol are taken together.

Mood and behavioral effects: Xanax can lead to a depressed mood as well as irritability and confusion. It may also cause some people to experience suicidal thoughts, but it’s not common. Other rare side effects include:

  • rage
  • aggression
  • hostile behavior

Alcohol affects mood in a variety of ways as well. For some people it causes a temporary mood boost, although it’s a depressant. Others may experience negative side effects, like feelings of sadness.

Alcohol also lowers inhibitions and impairs judgement. This makes it easier to do things you wouldn’t normally do. In general, these mood changes and behavioral effects increase when Xanax and alcohol are taken together.

Memory impairments: Xanax and alcohol are both associated with memory loss. This effect is greater when the two substances are combined. Combining both substances increases your risk for a blackout. In other words, after taking Xanax and alcohol together, you might not remember what happened.

What are the possible side effects of Xanax?

Xanax may cause serious side effects including:

  • depressed mood,
  • thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself,
  • racing thoughts,
  • increased energy,
  • unusual risk-taking behavior,
  • confusion,
  • agitation,
  • hostility,
  • hallucinations,
  • uncontrolled muscle movements,
  • tremor,
  • convulsions (seizure), and
  • pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
  • Get medical help right away, if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

The most common side effects of Xanax include:

  • drowsiness,
  • feeling tired,
  • slurred speech,
  • lack of balance or coordination,
  • memory problems, and
  • feeling anxious early in the morning

Tell the doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Xanax. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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