Why You Shouldn’t Mix Xanax with Alcohol

Mixing Xanax with alcohol can lead to detrimental effects for you or your loved ones. Learn about side effects and risk factors here.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a prescription sedative medicine used to treat anxiety and panic. It was created in the 1960s and is one of the most prevalent anti-anxiety medications today. It is also commonly abused illegally. Xanax can’t be made outside of a pharmaceutical environment, so street Xanax isn’t actually Xanax, but instead a cocktail of other drugs with unregulated doses.
Xanax works by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, resulting in calmness and clarity.

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Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax can be addictive when taken in excess. Over time, a person builds up a tolerance to the medication, which causes them to take increasing amounts to obtain the same effects. Xanax mixed with alcohol increases the chance of addiction as well. Remember, the only safe dose of Xanax is the one prescribed by a doctor and taken responsibly.

Mixing alcohol and Xanax can be fatal. As both substances are sedatives, they create compound effects that intensify either drug’s negative properties on the body. 1

What Happens When Alcohol and Xanax Are Combined?

mixing Xanax with alcohol
Mixing Xanax with alcohol creates, among other things, a depressed central nervous system. This is responsible for several functions like breathing. Impairing the central nervous impairs countless other functions as well. Some noted effects of combining Xanax with alcohol include confusion, cognitive dysfunction, and mood swings.

How Long Do These Effects Last?

The surface effects of mixing Xanax with alcohol can last hours. However, prolonged abuse of the two can result in long-term effects of Xanax. Furthermore, drug use can ruin reputations, careers, and splinter families.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol and Xanax?

There are dozens of reasons a person might mix alcohol and Xanax. Common reasons include stress, mood disorders, genetic factors, a person’s environment, and trauma. People may want to heighten the effects of Xanax on the body, or some are simply unaware combining the two can have adverse effects. Before mixing the two, please speak to a doctor about what impact it can have on both the mind and the body.

Short-Term Effects of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

The results of mixing Xanax and alcohol produce both short and long-term effects. Here are some of the short-term symptoms.


Xanax and alcohol are both depressants. A person under the effects of Xanax and alcohol will become tired, slow-moving, and progressively incoherent. This will increase depending on how much Xanax a person has taken, along with how much alcohol they have consumed.

Mood and Behavior Changes

Mood and behavior changes include irritability, depression, franticness, paranoia, and irresponsibility, among others. This is one of the most outwardly noticeable effects of Xanax and alcohol being mixed, and can also impact relationships with friend, family, and coworkers.

Memory Problems

Alcohol prevents the frontal lobe from storing new memories. Add in the combined cognitive impairment of drinking with Xanax being in the system often makes it difficult to draw upon existing memories or create new ones.
It is important to remember that even short-term effects of Xanax still pose a lasting threat when the drug is abused.

Long-Term Effects of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

The lasting effects of mixing Xanax with alcohol include:

Changes in Weight or Appetite

Generally speaking, people with active substance abuse disorders also have poor diets, which leads to malnutrition, weakened bones, proneness to injury, and longer healing times. Additionally, severe addiction can make the body unable to absorb food nutrients as easily.

Memory and Cognitive Difficulty

Combining Xanax and alcohol can wreak havoc on the mind by increasing the amount of gray matter, disrupting neuropathways, and inhibiting core processes.

Liver Damage and Failure

Liver damage is a significant risk when dealing with any form of addiction, but especially increases when suffering from alcoholism. The liver begins to form scar tissues and becomes unable to filter out substances. This means that filtering out Xanax can become harder and harder the longer one takes both substances. 2

Personality Changes

Addiction impacts personality greatly. The overstimulation of the reward center can entirely rewire a person’s mind, causing them to prioritize their substance abuse above almost everything else. Drinking while taking Xanax can also cause the person to act outside of their character due to extreme inebriation.


People with substance abuse issues have an increased risk of developing cancer. The leading theory is that addiction causes core disruptions to the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off illnesses. 3

Heart Disease and Stroke

Drinking while taking Xanax can create severe heart problems as well. A reason for this is the high level of strain substance abuse puts on the heart.


Depression is caused by impaired brain chemistry and is amplified by poor diet, life choices, and underlying issues with self-perception. Drinking while taking Xanax can increase depressive tendencies.
Different types of Xanax can cause varying levels of substance abuse. Doctors will typically warn patients about drug interactions with Xanax when switching doses.

How Long After Taking Xanax Can You Drink?

drinking while taking xanax
It’s not recommended to drink at all while under the effects of Xanax. Mixing Xanax with alcohol puts a person at an increased risk for any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Can You Overdose on Xanax?

It’s more than possible to experience signs of overdosing Xanax. While not every Xanax overdose is fatal, a person can still suffer from long-term complications, especially when Xanax is mixed with alcohol.

Can You Overdose on Alcohol?

Alcohol poisoning can occur when someone consumes alcohol in extreme excess. There will be many stages before fatal poisoning, including confusion, lethargy, and breathing issues, which can then lead to a fatal Xanax alcohol overdose. 4

Overdosing on Xanax and Alcohol Signs

Experiencing a negative interaction with Xanax and alcohol can cause any combination of the following symptoms:

Blue or Grey Skin

Skin discoloration caused by a Xanax alcohol overdose occurs from poor blood flow, reduced body temperature, and other side effects.

Confusion or Delirium

Drinking while using Xanax can increase a person’s confusion and paranoia, causing them to be unintelligible.

Cold, Clammy Skin

Cold, clammy skin happens for the same reason as the aforementioned skin discolorations. If a person has both skin discoloration and is cold to the touch, call medical services immediately.

Fixed Pupils

Fixed Pupils Fixed pupils don’t respond to stimulation like light, movement, etc.

Slowed or Stopped Breathing

Breathing issues arise from the depressed central nervous system and can be fatal if not treated.

Mixing Xanax with alcohol can cause addiction and severe medical complications. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug cravings, then reach out to us. Stillwater Treatment specializes in providing care to people looking to overcome dependency. Don’t mix alcohol and Xanax. Call us instead.