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What are the Dangers of Mixing Xanax® and Alcohol?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon984847 — On Jan 11, 2015

I take Xanax whenever I feel angry and depressed and it caused the eating disorder that feels like something is stuck in my throat. I went to the ENT specialist and he said there was nothing there and I also did the barium swallow X-ray to see if they saw anything, but everything was clear. They said it was all in my head.

By anon970231 — On Sep 16, 2014

O.K. It's bad, bad, bad! My husband was stabbed eight times by my brother in law and is in the hospital now. He came very close to dying because my brother in law didn't call for help and just lay down on the floor himself while my husband lay there bleeding to death and had collapsed lungs.

There were no arguments and no ill feelings, He doesn't recall how or why he did it. But he always gets irritable and angry when he drinks but when he combines the two, it's a deadly combination.

By anon942786 — On Mar 29, 2014

My husband has been taking Xanax on and off for years. He has a history (including family history) of depression and anxiety and is prescribed once again, to take Xanax. He mixes alcohol with it almost on a daily basis. As if the combination of the two wasn't enough, he takes medication for his high blood pressure along with his Xanax. He knows how I feel about taking those pills together with alcohol, so he hides the Xanax and denies he is still taking them.

I just found a bottle in his coat pocket. He has one pill out of 60 left. A 30 day supply. This has been a problem for years, his mental capacity has declined and can not perform his work duties correctly, comprehension has slowed down, and he has problems driving. Minute things set him off easily. I am going to contact his primary physician when the office opens and explain to her the situation, she needs to know what he's doing with the medication she prescribes.

By anon940933 — On Mar 20, 2014

I came here because I took a small dose of Xanax before a social occasion last night and while attending, drank about two and half glasses of alcohol. I had zero negative effects. I am not saying to overdo this, but my main curiosity was if the combination of the two was hard on the liver or kidneys -- like taking Advil for hangovers. To be clear, I don't drink much or take Xanax very often, once a month at the most.

By anon937485 — On Mar 05, 2014

My husband thinks he needs Xanax to not panic, but drinks a lot on top of it. He gets unreasonable and violent and I hate to admit it, but I am afraid of him. But he is also violent when not taking it and originally, it worked better, but with all the years of taking it and drinking his logic seems off and he accuses me of all sorts of things.

He hates to leave the house, and has chased away all of my friends with his violence and nastiness towards people. When I say I have no friends in this city, he claims it's my fault and that I am unlikeable. I am embarrassed to take him place because of how he behaves.

Strangely, I have started doing out of town trips with my girlfriends who don't live here and have a great time. I don't think I am unlikeable. I think he is abusing this drug and me. I am afraid to ask his doctor (not my doctor) about this issue. I think he would try to kill me.

Should I leave him? I love him but he is not who he was before all of this. Sad.

By anon933718 — On Feb 17, 2014

I take Xanax on rare occasions for med procedures like giving blood because I have high hemoglobin, or for MRIs because I'm claustrophobic in confined spaces.

I'm not a regular user, even though I could be because I just fill scripts and put the pills away in a safe place. Xanax puts me in a stupor and I have no energy and all I want to do is sleep.

I find it hard to understand how anybody would want to take this drug everyday unless they are really whacked in their minds with some kind of ADD or something, or just have an addictive personality.

That's just my two cents. I hate having no energy and wanting to sleep all the time. This, in my opinion, is not getting high, but is just a way for some to sleep their lives away for nothing.

By anon342614 — On Jul 22, 2013

There was a beautiful, healthy, funny and very loving young man who was only 25 years old. He was having panic attacks and was prescribed Xanax. He was taking it as prescribed and went out drinking with his buddies. We went to see him in the ICU the next day where they kept his heart beating for four days. He was an organ donor and helped a lot of people. We just wish he was here. He will be missed forever. Please don't let this happen to you or someone you love.

By anon330405 — On Apr 16, 2013

Let's not forget the xanax and alcohol combo did Whitney and Heath in. This seems to be a favorite combo for my brother and it makes him very violent and suicidal.

By anon326879 — On Mar 24, 2013

Although I don't approve of people getting information for abusive purposes, if there is a person who needs an exact level to keep in mind when abusing, or questioning the situation they are in, be it overdose, curiosity of how to get high, questions on how to keep a family member safe, I would suggest for all health forums and websites to post a basic for what is either a safety point, or a danger point.

This way, even if the observer of that post is trying to find out how much of a substance they can take without it causing severe health risks and possible death, this way at least the reader will be informed that at "X" point, you need to call 911, or at "X" point, you need to stop using your substance. Because, for someone who wants to get high, they will get high, and if they don't want to end their life, why have them take that risk?

Providing information that can help them judge what is safe, although foolish, is better than their mother and father and sister and brother and grandmother reading a message at their funeral. Love life, be safe, spread knowledge.

By anon326789 — On Mar 24, 2013

I mixed xanax and alcohol many times and each time it is horrible. I have gotten knives, razors, and cut into my veins in an attempt to kill myself, I've even turned on a chainsaw and put it to my wrist but for some reason it didn't work. I've gotten extremely violent with my family, friends and girlfriend. Recently I chased my girlfriend and family trying to hit them and desperately looked for a knife to chase them with but couldn't find one. The police were called on me and I was even aggressive towards them. Everything was a complete blackout and I don't remember doing any of those things. It's like I just wasn't myself.

This combination has made me suicidal and I guess homicidal or just extremely violent, it's so addictive I always take way too much when I'm prescribed xanax. I just don't recommend xanax or alcohol to anyone at all. Especially in combination.

By anon320631 — On Feb 18, 2013

I regularly mixed alcohol with Xanax and I can honestly say its the most dangerous thing I've done.

Because of it, I lost work, had huge fights with my family and friends, became extremely aggressive and actually hallucinated. I was hearing and seeing things that were not there. I had conversations with nobodies. I scrolled back through facebook looking at all these terrible posts and conversations, texts, calls and inappropriate behavior. Oh – I ended up falling off a small wall and stabbing my back with my own glass I was holding - at wedding. I ended up being rushed to A&E in a foreign country. Also I have a drink charge coming up the police say it was the highest reading he's seen, bar none.

So I'm just after doing it again and have the fear really bad. I think am an alcoholic and addicted to these meds. Any benzos or hypnotics get you messed up with booze. I'm embarrassed by my actions and ashamed of myself. I loathe myself and have terrible urges to do something final.

I don't know how, why or where this happens. I'm just coming around from being out of it for 14 days, but I can't seem to stop it and I fear for my life and others. Please read this and don't ever mix them, no matter what. You may end up in a cell after murdering someone and not remember a thing.

As for me, luck has got me a new job in a new city but I still fear I will screw it up. I think I should go to a clinic/GP and ask for advice. Thanks for listening.

By anon319114 — On Feb 11, 2013

Someone would have to be taking a very large amount of Xanax to be at the point where he/she would do something as alarming as lying down in the street. That is a lot of Xanax and possibly other drugs combined. But Xanax is highly addictive and the tolerance level goes up very fast.

In small amounts, this medication is excellent for panic attacks, and it also can stop migraines in their tracks, but there are better medications for migraine and also better ones for panic, as well. Only take Xanax under a doctor's care and don't mix with alcohol at all.

By anon308856 — On Dec 13, 2012

It is sad to hear of people taking this drug if they don't need it, but that is their choice and if done in small enough doses rarely enough, while not drunk, it could work out fine for them.

On the other hand, if you know someone who is taking Xanax, don't assume that they would be capable of functioning without it. Major anxiety and panic attacks can ruin lives, ruin sleep, terminate jobs, end classroom attendance. Plenty of suicides could have been avoided if someone took a Xanax and had someone to cheer them up when they awoke a more calm person the next day. If someone with anxiety disorder can use this drug in moderation, the results are very much worth the risk assuming they don't continue to need it and don't drink on it.

Withdrawals can be dangerous, so it's always best to taper off if you're feeling more confident or found other safe methods of reducing your anxiety.

By anon306986 — On Dec 03, 2012

My sister has been on Xanax for a long time, and she also drinks heavily, to the point were she will say things and when you take on about the things she has said, she will argue with you and tell you that you a liar and say she never said anything of the sort.

It is now to the point that our whole family is split apart and no matter how had we try, she is just not willing to accept that she has done anything wrong. Her husband drinks with her and for some reason, no matter how obvious the truth is, he backs her, which in the end makes the situation even worse.

I have no idea what to do anymore and worry about her children and of course, I worry that at some point her irrational behavior will possibly cost hers or someone else's life.

By anon301027 — On Nov 01, 2012

A friend just passed away yesterday from mixing xanax with alcohol. Don't do it.

By anon299138 — On Oct 23, 2012

I took a lot of xanax the last two days I have a really bad memory with or without the xanax, and now I'm drinking a day later. Will it affect me, like getting angry or blacking out? I've had it happen before but I don't remember. My mother told me I got very violent and I'm nothing like that.

By anon297887 — On Oct 17, 2012

Xanax is also addictive, at least for those prone to addiction. I have a cousin who is at least a 22-year user. He was also a heavy drinker over that period. Though a large man, the toxic blend of Xanax and alcohol caught up with him socially. He had three DUI's in five years, the last an accident that injured others. It cost him $50,000 to stay out of state prison.

He still uses Xanax - hopefully without alcohol. Xanax cost him his love, playing guitar, and a 35-year career (he quit showing up for work).

By anon284947 — On Aug 13, 2012

My brother has cancer and he is really in a bad place. His wife threw him out. He started drinking heavily and he takes Xanax and he has had several trips to the hospital. He now talks to our mother who has been dead since 2003. What can I do to help him? Is this permanent?

By anon181701 — On May 30, 2011

I don't know if you've ever seen someone whose been taking Xanax pretty heavily for quite a while just quit cold turkey. You don't ever want to.

The person is saying off the wall things and behaving recklessly and has no idea of who he/she is. They will tell you that they did things that they didn't. They will lie down in the street and not think twice about the consequences and those around the person feel that they will never be the same again.

Someone who has had this reaction should never, I repeat, *never* put another Xanax in their system. We have dealt with this at least four times with the same person and he will never be the person we met and grew to love over eight years ago. Please! If you're taking anything, stop! But get help stopping, because quitting without any help can be dangerous, if not deadly.

By Amphibious54 — On Feb 16, 2011

There are a number of drugs classified as CNS drugs. The categories market value accounts for almost $70 billion; representing the second largest segment in the drug industry. CNS drugs are also the fastest growing segment in the industry. Drugs in this category include SSRIs, Anticonvulsants, antidepressants, Seratonin receptor antagonists, and other Benzodiazepines like Xanax.

I am not sure exactly what the guidelines are for prescribing these drugs while pregnant. In some cases, CNS drugs are acceptable in small quantities while pregnant (caffeine), while others are likely prohibited for pregnant women.

By Fiorite — On Feb 15, 2011

What are other types of CNS drugs? Do these drugs have the same negative effects on pregnancy that alcohol does? I know that pregnancy and alcohol don't mix, but can a pregnant woman take prescription CNS drugs?

By GlassAxe — On Feb 14, 2011

I used to volunteer at a youth center for at risk teens, and the biggest problems we dealt with were related to drug abuse and alcohol. The majority of the drugs available to these teenagers were prescription drugs, and Xanax ranked right up there with opiates as far as abuse amongst teens went. We worked very closely with mental health and the police department, and it was not uncommon to hear about young children overdosing on these drugs or being raped after partying with these drugs.

Some of these pharmaceutical drugs had the effect of completely stripping away a child's inhibitions as well as blurring their memory of events. Sometimes I almost wonder if the benefits of these drugs to society are worth the detrimental effects on society.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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