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Alcohol and Xanax Overdose

Xanax and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants. When taken individually, they produce a relaxing effect. When combined, these two chemical substances can do serious damage. In fact, Xanax and alcohol overdose are one of the leading causes of accidental, drug-related death in the U.S. If you or someone close to you has been misusing Xanax or alcohol or combining these two substances, reaching out for professional help is a good idea. 

At Tennesee Valley Recovery, we believe that quality addiction treatment should be available to those in need. We have developed an effective program of addiction recovery that focuses on the unique clinical needs of each individual client. Contact us today to learn more about our Knoxville, Tennessee drug addiction treatment program. 

Alcohol Misuse and Dependence  

Alcohol is the most widely used chemical substance in the U.S. While most people who use alcohol will not develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol dependence is extremely common. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 29.5 million people ages 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder in the past year. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports, “The rate of all alcohol-related emergency department visits increased 47% between 2006 and 2014, which translates to an average annual increase of 210,000 alcohol-related emergency department visits. More than 140,000 people (approximately 97,000 men and 43,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the United States behind tobacco, poor diet, physical inactivity, and illegal drugs.”

When misused on its own, alcohol is dangerous. When mixed with other chemical substances like benzodiazepines, the effects may be fatal. 

Xanax Misuse and Dependence 

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Benzodiazepines work by interacting with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. According to the National Institutes of Health, GABA is the “primary inhibitory neurotransmitter for the central nervous system.” When someone consumes Xanax, it binds to GABA receptors in the brain and produces side effects like mild sedation, detachment from surroundings, and relaxation.

When taken as prescribed, benzodiazepines like Xanax are effective for the short-term treatment of anxiety. As it stands, alprazolam is not only the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the U.S. Providers write more than 48 million prescriptions for Xanax every year. However, Xanax has a high potential for misuse. When misused, this medication can quickly lead to physical and psychological dependence. 

Rates of benzodiazepine overdose have been steadily climbing throughout the U.S. The National Institutes on Drug Abuse states, “Drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines steadily increased from 1,135 in 1999 to 11,537 in 2017 and declined to 9,711 in 2019. Between 2019 and 2021, deaths rose again to 12,499.” Xanax is even more dangerous when combined with other chemical substances like opioid narcotics or alcohol. 

Risks of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol 

When combined, Xanax and alcohol can lead to serious — sometimes fatal — side effects. Even those who take Xanax as prescribed should avoid drinking while on the medication. Medical professionals recommend the two substances are never used simultaneously. There are many risks involved with mixing Xanax and alcohol. 

Xanax and Alcohol Interactions 

Xanax is a prescription benzodiazepine with sedative effects. It works by calming the central nervous system. Alcohol is also a sedative. When the two substances are combined, the central nervous system can easily become over-sedated. This can, in turn, lead to respiratory depression, reduced heart rate, and loss of consciousness. 

Both alcohol and Xanax work to reduce cognitive function and slow the signals that the brain sends to the central nervous system. There are physical and psychological symptoms associated with mixing Xanax and alcohol. 

Physical Symptoms of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol 

The physical symptoms of mixing Xanax and alcohol include: 

  • Increased drowsiness
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Compromised motor function 
  • Problems with memory 
  • A lack of coordination 
  • Slowed/labored breathing 
  • Increased risk of coma and/or death

Psychological Symptoms of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol 

The psychological symptoms of mixing Xanax and alcohol include:

  • Increased anxiety/panic attacks 
  • A loss of inhibitions 
  • An increase in risk-taking behaviors 
  • Strange behavior
  • Feelings of hostility or agitation 
  • A lack of control over behaviors 
  • Impulsivity 

Alcohol and Xanax Overdose 

It takes a high dose of Xanax to cause an overdose, but the risk of overdose increases significantly when Xanax is combined with alcohol. If a person is experiencing an overdose due to the use of Xanax and alcohol, they might exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Respiratory depression/slowed or shallow breathing.
  • A loss of balance or coordination.
  • A loss of consciousness/moving in and out of consciousness.
  • Blurred vision.
  • An inability to speak clearly/incoherence. 
  • Muscle weakness. 
  • Coma. 

In the case of a Xanax and alcohol overdose, it is crucial to seek emergency medical care immediately. There is no antidote for benzodiazepine overdose, though if a large amount of alcohol has been consumed the stomach might be pumped to hinder or diminish effects. Once the person experiencing overdose has been stabilized, professional addiction treatment should be sought to prevent additional consequences of polydrug abuse. At Tennessee Valley Recovery, we have developed a comprehensive program for Xanax and alcohol addiction recovery. Contact us today to learn more. 

Alcohol and Xanax Overdose Treatment Options Near Knoxville, TN

At Tennessee Valley Recovery, we understand how difficult it can be to reach out for professional help, even after experiencing a life-threatening overdose. Committing to a life of recovery takes an immense amount of bravery. Fortunately, we are available to help you take the first steps. If you or someone you love has been misusing Xanax and alcohol or has recently experienced an overdose, we are available to help.

Contact us today to take the first steps towards a beautiful and fulfilling life, free from the devastation of addiction!