Drug overdose in the United States is an unfortunate but common reality. Industry statistics show that in 2020, the country recorded 12,290 overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines such as Xanax. Experts reveal it is much easier to overdose on Xanax when combined with other substances, including alcohol. Xanax and alcohol abuse can lead to adverse side effects and can be a dangerous combination.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is a prescription anti-anxiety medication sold in generic form under the brand name, Alprazolam. Xanax is categorized as a benzodiazepine with relaxing and sedative effects. The drug is commonly prescribed to treat seizures, panic disorder, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and anxiety.
Xanax helps slow down the nervous system’s activities to deliver a calming effect. The medication increases the feelings of pleasure while decreasing feelings of anxiety, panic, and other negative mental states. For anyone with anxiety-related mental illness, Xanax makes it possible to function normally and avoid uncomfortable symptoms of panic attacks.
Common effects of Xanax include:
- Increased relaxation
- Decreased feelings of pain and anxiety
The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Xanax
Xanax and alcohol are depressants that slow the functions and activities of the nervous system. This includes the motor skills such as speech, heart rate, reflexes, breathing, and more. Alcohol and Xanax increase the activity of GABA and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain. The neurotransmitters are responsible for slowing down the functions of the nervous system leading to a sedative effect.
When taken together, the substances exaggerate one another’s effect leading to overdose, coma, or even death. In a nutshell, when concurrently, Xanax and alcohol become more potent than when either is taken on their own.
What are the Side Effects of Alcohol and Xanax?
Combining the two drugs can enhance the side effects of Xanax. Leading to severe drowsiness, clumsiness, weakness, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, and unintentional death. Side effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol are categorized into three: physical side effects, psychological side effects, and behavioral side effects:
Physical side effects include:
- Memory problems, including loss of memory and confusion
- Impaired motor control
- Difficulty or slowed breathing
Psychological side effects include:
- Enhanced anxiety
- Signs of hostility
- Increased intoxication and sedation
Behavioral side effects include:
- Aggressive behaviors
- Loss of control
Generally, no known amount of alcohol and Xanax is safe. One person may combine the two drugs and experience zero side effects. However, others can experience fatal overdoses even after taking small amounts of Xanax and alcohol. This generally implies one should completely avoid taking any form of liquor while under Xanax medication.
When is it safe to drink alcohol after taking Xanax?
A common question that many ask is how long they have to wait before drinking alcohol. A single dose of Xanax has a half-life of between 6.3 to 26.9 hours, with the average being 11 hours. It takes several half-lives to eliminate the drug from a person’s system entirely.
For most people, Xanax clears completely from their bodies within two to four days. However, other factors can determine how long the drug remains in the system.
These factors include:
- Age: Older adults generally experience an extended elimination period averaging a half-life of 16.3 hours
- Liver function: Persons with alcoholic liver disease have an average Xanax half-life of 19.7 hours.
- Obesity: Overweight people have an average half-life of 21.8 hours.
- Metabolism: High basal metabolic rate can lessen the duration Xanax takes to clear from the system. Active individuals can excrete Xanax faster than those leading a sedentary lifestyle.
- Dosage: Higher doses generally take longer to excrete because the body needs more time to metabolize.
How Long After Drinking Can I Take Xanax?
The human body takes an average of 4 to 5 hours to rid half amount of alcohol in a drink. This means that the half-life of alcohol is 4-5 hours. It typically takes 4 to 5 half-lives to clear 97% of alcohol from the body.
This means one needs 16 to 25 hours for most alcohol they consume to be out of their system. However, other factors affect how quickly one eliminates alcohol.
These factors include:
- Gender: Females generally have a high BAC, meaning they eliminate alcohol faster than males.
- Age: Younger people, including tens and older adults, need more time to eliminate alcohol
- Time of day: Alcohol metabolizes faster at the end of the day
- Exercise: Alcohol is eliminated faster during exercise.
Generally, experts recommend that one should not take Xanax following an alcoholic drink. It is essential to consult a medical professional when taking alcohol and have been placed under Xanax medication. Drinking alcohol while taking Xanax increases the risk of adverse effects of both substances.
Alcohol and Xanax Addiction
Xanax is a prescription medication typically used to treat anxiety or other mental health conditions. However, many people abuse the drug for recreational purposes due to its pleasurable effects.
Many people today try to mix alcohol and Xanax to relieve the stress and pressures of life—the feelings of euphoria act as a positive reinforcement for alcohol and Xanax abuse. The feeling achieved by taking Xanax and alcohol ultimately increases one’s risk of developing an addiction.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Alcohol and Xanax Addiction
Co-occurring alcohol and Xanax addiction often require treatment. The first step to treating substance use disorders is reaching out to a treatment center. The medical professionals will schedule an assessment or substance abuse evaluation to determine the severity of the addiction and drug abuse. Customized treatment will be created to ensure a patient gets a proper level of care.
Alcohol and Xanax Abuse Treatment in Riverside County, CA
Xanax and alcohol are legal and easy to obtain. This makes the substance readily available, which gives many people the impression they are safe to be used together. However, as explained above, mixing Xanax and alcohol together could have dire consequences, including severe addiction, coma, and death.
Anyone struggling with an alcohol and Xanax addiction must learn how to identify addiction symptoms and abuse-related red flags. When dealing with an addiction, it is essential to get the care and supervision of a medical professional.
Inland Detox offers drug and alcohol detox in the Inland Empire. Our services cover the entire of Southern California and other parts of the United States. We strive to help our client’s detox comfortably and guide them to the next level of care that’s best for them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.