Xanax®, a brand name for the drug alprazolam, is a medication that is used for several different purposes. While primarily an anti-anxiety drug, Xanax® can also be used in the treatment of agoraphobia, as a supporting medication to an antidepressant, and even as an aid in smoking cessation. As with many drugs, mixing Xanax® and alcohol is never a good idea, since the combination can produce results that range from mildly uncomfortable to fatal.
It is important to understand that both Xanax® and alcohol are classified as central nervous system or CNS depressants. That is, both substances act on some part of brain function to slow down a given reaction. While not working on the same sets of neurotransmitters, both Xanax® and alcohol do tend to produce similar effects in terms of heart rate and breathing.
This means that mixing Xanax® and alcohol can lead to increasing the effect of each substance significantly. In most cases, the cumulative effect is far from pleasant. For someone who is using Xanax® as a way to deal with panic attacks, adding alcohol to the mix will mean that while the individual does become less agitated, the effect goes beyond merely settling jangled nerves. As a result, the individual finds it hard to focus and is sometimes rendered incommunicative.
Other Xanax® side effects can also be intensified when alcohol is consumed. In fact, the effect may be the opposite of what is experienced when taking alprazolam and refraining from alcohol consumption. Rather than easing a mild panic attack, the introduction of alcohol may trigger a more intensive attack that requires a trip to a hospital emergency room. In like manner, people who tend to become irritable when taking alprazolam may find that every little thing going on around them causes unreasonable responses of anger that are almost impossible to control.
In more severe situations, the combination of Xanax® and alcohol may increase the sedative qualities to a level that is not only undesirable, but also life threatening. Depending on the amount consumed of each substance, the heart rate can be lowered to a dangerous level. At the same time, involuntary breathing functions can be seriously impaired. If the individual does not receive medical treatment immediately, there is a very good chance that death will ensue.
Regardless of the dosage and type of Xanax® that is used, alcohol should be avoided as long as the patient is taking the drug on even the most casual basis. This is as true with Xanax® XR as with standard alprazolam medication. Even with the smallest amount of medication and a small drink, the side effects of Xanax® are magnified and can result in a great deal of emotional and physical turmoil.
Along with avoiding a mix of Xanax® and alcohol, anyone using alprazolam would do well to avoid consuming any product containing grapefruit juice. The components of the juice can have an extremely negative effect on the function of the drug, which may result in the need to seek emergency medical care.