Among the most popular combination of substances is Xanax with alcohol. For some, using alcohol and Xanax together creates a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. One online user described her high by saying: “I was so blissed out after a Xanax and some beers that I felt like I could do anything.” Unfortunately, chasing such an intense high can come with a steep price.
While mixing Xanax and alcohol has become increasingly popular in recent years among those struggling with addiction, the unpredictable nature of combining the two can lead to a dangerous and possibly deadly withdrawal process.
What Everyone Should Know About Alcohol And Xanax
Xanax falls into a class of drugs called benzodiazepines– more commonly called benzos. Benzos work by actively slowing down brain activity to reduce levels of excitement and create a calming, almost tranquilizing, effect on the brain and body. This is what makes it so effective at alleviating symptoms of the anxiety disorders they are frequently prescribed to treat.
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Like Xanax, alcohol also works as a central nervous system depressant. In many cases, alcohol can make people feel more animated and less reserved after the first round or two of drinks. However, the more alcohol a person drinks, the more noticeable the sedative effects of the substance will become. When combined, the two create a powerful sedative effect on the human mind and body.
Side Effects Of Alcohol And Xanax
The euphoric high that comes from combining alcohol with Xanax is what draws the majority of users back to this mixture of substances time and time again.
Unfortunately, the combined sedative effects of these two substances can cause a series of uncomfortable and at times, life-threatening side effects including:
- Slowed pulse
- Slowed breathing
- Impaired memory
- Fainting spells
- Respiratory arrest
- Blacking out
Over time, as the dependency deepens, those abusing Xanax with alcohol will need to take increasing quantities of these substances to get the same intoxicating high as before. The more Xanax and alcohol are consumed the longer these symptoms will prevail. Longevity of drug and alcohol use can make the withdrawal process increasingly dangerous.
Even more startling, the Morbidity And Mortality Weekly Report found that over 27 percent of emergency department visits involving benzodiazepines also involved alcohol and that over 26 percent of the individuals who died as a result of benzodiazepine use were also consuming alcohol.
When people become addicted to two or more substances in order to achieve a specific feeling, it is known as polysubstance dependence.
Detoxing From Alcohol And Xanax
Since alcohol and Xanax both act as central nervous system depressants, the mixture of the two will significantly slow down the heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce the body’s temperature. When these two substances are abused over a period of time, the body will inherently adjust to these conditions and begin to accept them as the new normal. If both were to be suddenly removed from the brain and body, these functions would quickly rebound. This makes quitting Xanax and alcohol cold turkey extremely dangerous.
Detoxing from this combination of substances should only be done under medical supervision.
The body’s vital signs must be carefully monitored during the detox process to help avoid and treat withdrawal symptoms including:
- Heart palpitations
- Impaired breathing
- Tingling in arms and legs
- High blood pressure
- Sweating and fever
- Blurred vision
- Delirium tremens
If detox from the combination of Xanax and alcohol is done without medical supervision, some of the more dangerous withdrawal symptoms can be deadly.
Out of all these uncomfortable side effects, delirium tremens is the most serious and life-threatening. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), this symptom is considered a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can cause hallucinations, body tremors, delirium, and seizures. While the NIH states that delirium tremens are frequently brought on within 12 to 72 hours after someone’s last drink, they also state that it can begin as late as seven to nine days after alcohol consumption.
Due to the complex combination of substances in the body, detoxing from Xanax and alcohol is unpredictable and vastly more difficult than detoxing from just one drug.
Timeline Of Withdrawal From Alcohol And Xanax
Alcohol withdrawal can be broken down into three stages.
- Stage One: Begins about eight hours after the last drink. Can cause anxiety, nausea, insomnia and body aches.
- Stage Two: Begins about 24-72 hours after the last drink. Can cause high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, and fever.
- Stage Three: Begins about 72+ hours after the last drink. Can cause hallucinations, body tremors, and seizures.
When medically supervised and treated accordingly, alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically start to decrease after five to seven days.
However, withdrawal from Xanax, or any other drug in the benzo family, tends to last longer than alcohol withdrawal. While symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can begin as early as 10-12 hours after the final dose, the side effects reach a peak around two weeks after the last pill. Even after the withdrawal process reaches its peak, symptoms can last for months afterward if not addressed by a medical professional.
When these two withdrawal processes are combined, people can expect the side effects to feel more severe and last longer than if they were detoxing from one substance.
Some factors that can influence the length and intensity of withdrawal are how long someone has been using, dosage of Xanax, underlying medical or mental health issues, family history of dependency and amount of alcohol consumed.
Using Alcohol And Xanax Together
The public is often taught that those struggling with addiction have a “drug of choice,” or one specific substance that they abuse regularly. However, this is rarely the case. In recent years, it’s become common that drug and alcohol-related deaths are a result of a complicated and lethal cocktail of substances.
Due to this, it’s become increasingly important to understand the heightened risk factors that go along with detoxing from more than one substance at the same time. If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to alcohol and/or Xanax and needs help, call to speak with one of our treatment specialists today at 888-512-3326.