Xanax and other benzodiazepines (benzos) are popular and effective prescription medications. However, there are growing concerns – both among the public and in the medical community – about the devastating effects of these drugs and the potential for misuse and addiction. Because they are so widely used, many people entering an alcohol rehab center may do so as a result of using Xanax or using multiple substances such as mixing alcohol and Xanax.
Although most users have a general understanding of the risks of using any type of drug or substance, few are aware of the dangers of mixing alcohol and Xanax. Furthermore, users may also not realize that combining these two substances can lead to severe injury or death by overdose.
How Xanax and Alcohol Interact
It is important to understand how Xanax and alcohol interact when they both enter your body simultaneously. Let’s break down each substance.
The Effects of Xanax
According to the Oxford Handbook of Substance Abuse and Substance Use Disorders, Xanax is responsible for releasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This reaction increases the levels of dopamine in the central nervous system.
When a person takes Xanax, they may feel relaxed or tranquil. In addition, they feel a sense of euphoria. Overall, taking Xanax produces a generally positive mindset, in which a person dealing with stress or severe anxiety can get relief. This is why Xanax is a popular drug.
The Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol can produce an array of psychological effects depending on the user, the type of alcohol they drink, or how much they drink. When consuming small amounts of alcohol, the user may feel invigorated or stimulated. However, higher doses can cause someone to feel relaxed or heavily sedated.
From a scientific standpoint, alcohol increases the concentration of the neurotransmitter GABA while also trigger serotonin receptors. This is why a person who drinks alcohol may feel alive at first due to the triggering of the serotonin but then crash later on as a result of the high levels of GABA.
Mixing Alcohol and Xanax
A person who enters a Xanax addiction treatment center may be oblivious to how combining alcohol and Xanax has fueled an addiction to either or both. In addition, they may not realize how close they came to an overdose or side effect that could have ended their life.
When a user takes both Xanax and alcohol at the same time, here is what happens:
- Both substances are easily and quickly metabolized
- Both substances put an enormous strain on the central nervous system
- The most common side effect is extreme sedation and lethargy
- Higher levels of euphoria occur if Xanax is the more prevalent substance
- Higher levels of irritability or depression occur if alcohol is the prevalent substance
- Decreased motor skills occur regardless of the combination levels
In the most extreme cases, a person may pass out quickly, lose consciousness, or even go into a comatose state. Fatality occurs when certain systems shut down or the hear rate slows or stops entirely. Cognitive issues or mental illnesses may occur due to a long-term combination of both substances.
Getting Treatment for Xanax or Alcohol Addiction
A person who is taking Xanax may do so as a result of depression or anxiety. Therefore, if they are getting help for addiction, they may want to seek dual diagnosis treatment, which helps with both the addiction and the mental disorder.
If you are addicted to Xanax or alcohol, the best way to get help is to visit a local addiction treatment center in your area. You can learn about the dangers of mixing alcohol and Xanax, as well as how to overcome substance abuse. A professional treatment center can help you achieve lifelong recovery.