The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol


Written By: Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.
Cite This Article
Lighthouse Editorial Team. "The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol." Lighthouse Recovery Institute., Last updated Oct 5, 2020 at 10:24AM | Published on May 29, 2020,


Last updated Oct 5, 2020 at 10:24AM | Published on May 29, 2020 | Alcohol Addiction, Drug Addiction, Sober Living

As if drug and alcohol addiction weren’t fatal enough, many addicts found themselves mixing some of the deadliest drug combinations. For example, mixing Xanax and alcohol is one of the most lethal drug combinations around. With prescription drug addiction rises at dangerous levels, learning about the effects of various drug abuse is critical.

Today, we’re sharing the story of someone who survived the deadliest drug combination. While their persona remains anonymous, we hope their story will raise awareness among those using. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, knowing the dangers of mixing substances is paramount.

Introducing the Drug and Alcohol Lethal Blend

I’m not a scientist or doctor. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic who’s had personal experience with the dangerous effects of Xanax and alcohol. 

Around the tender age of fifteen, a friend handed me a “bar,” or two milligram Xanax pill. I took it and felt my fear and anxiety melt away. Thus I began to abuse Xanax. I soon moved onto opioids, but Xanax always held a special place in my heart. 

Two years later, I decided to “cut back.” I stopped doing opioids and figured that alcohol, Xanax, and weed were still fair game.

The Deadliest Mix: Alcohol and Xanax

The combination of Xanax and alcohol is more common than most people think. Most people, like me, are unaware of the dangers inherent in mixing narcotics and alcohol. While there’s information that highlights the deadly effects of mixing Xanax and drinking, that information isn’t as prevalent as you might think. College students are young adults among the top demographics for these deadly combinations. 

In 2014, the CDC reported that alcohol and benzodiazepine combinations resulted in 39,573 emergency visits and 13,063 deadly overdoses in the United States alone. 

Other people are looking to alter the way they think and feel. That is, they’re looking to get high. It should come as no surprise that mixing a powerful tranquilizer pill and a potent depressant beverage will produce a powerful euphoria. The effects of alcohol, when paired with the sedative effects from Xanax, can place people in dangerous situations.

The Effects of Xanax & Alcohol

Xanax targets the central nervous system. By inducing dopamine, which increases the feelings of pleasures, Xanax can reduce anxiety and other negative mental states. For someone with anxiety disorder, the effects of Xanax can help them function normally and avoid debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. However, when people use the drug for recreational purposes, it can become very addictive.

Some of the effects of Xanax include:

  • Increased relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Decreased feelings of panic and anxiety
  • Lightheartedness
  • Sedation
  • Feelings of detachment

At the same time, alcohol also targets the central nervous system. While one or two glasses with dinner won’t do much harm to your health, alcohol abuse can have long-lasting effects. Some of the short and long-term effects of alcohol include:

  • Behavior changes
  • Slurred speech
  • Liver damage
  • Frontal lobe damage
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory damage
  • Hallucinations
  • Infertility
  • Stomach distress
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Fatigue

When Xanax and alcohol are combined, the health effects can be deadly.

A Lethal Dose

Most people believe someone needs an insane amount of Xanax and alcohol to experience an overdose. The truth is, it differs. Most Xanax prescriptions range anywhere between 1 to 10 milligrams per day. When people add alcohol, the blend triggers unpredictable side effects that could lead to death.

Tolerance to either substance, weight, sex, age, and other health issues plays a significant role in determining a lethal dose. For example, someone with heart, kidney, or liver conditions might be at higher risks. However, in the end, there’s no safe dose from taking Xanax and alcohol together.

Woman in BathTub Drug Side Effects of Xanax and Alcohol

The Deadly Side Effects of Xanax and Alcohol 

Mixing Xanax and alcohol produces some dangerous side effects. The first reason for this is that they’re both central nervous system depressants. That means that both Xanax and alcohol slow how the body sends, receives, and processes information. The short term and long term effects of abusing these substances can bring serious health problems and be potentially life-threatening.

It also means they slow how the body carries out its tasks, things like breathing, heartbeats, etc. Side effects can affect the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart attacks and other fatal conditions.

Some side effects of these two chemicals can lead to:

  • Recklessness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Vomiting
  • Cold skin
  • Risk of blacking out
  • Dizziness

Next, both substances work on the same neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain. These are the GABA receptors, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in our nervous system. So, mixing Xanax and alcohol potentiates each chemical. That is to say, combining the two makes each individually stronger.

The potential overdose side effects are even scarier:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Risk of heart failure
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Coordination loss
  • Memory loss
  • Death

Who’s at Risk?

Unfortunately, those in college are at higher risk of falling for this deadly combination. Many students engage in unhealthy habits, including binge drinking and prescription drug abuse. Various studies suggest that those enrolled in a full-time college program are more likely to struggle with substance abuse and misuse of alcohol and Xanax than those who don’t attend college.

Back in 2016, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that over 50% of full-time college students consumed alcohol in the previous month. Of those, 38% experimented with binge drinking. Plus, over 10% engaged in heavy drinking for five or more days in any given month. On the other side, the same studies looked at people in the same age group who didn’t attend college, and this group was less likely to exhibit problematic drinking behaviors.

However, this isn’t to say other demographics aren’t at risk. Anyone who struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism will go to great extents to increase the euphoria and rush they get from substance abuse. Many drug addicts will turn to alcohol as an instant way to enhance or amplify the effects of whatever drug they’re misusing.

Changing Xanax and Alcohol Consumption

On a personal or societal level, the answer to affecting real change boils down to two things: personal responsibility and increased outreach.

Personal responsibility first takes the form of individuals learning the dangers of mixing Xanax and alcohol. It then becomes about making better decisions. When dealing with addiction, rather than heavy use or abuse, making better decisions is tricky. After all, full-blown addiction removes choice from the equation.

This is where increased outreach comes into play. Drug recovery organizations, institutions, and substance abuse treatment centers need to continue educating young adults. Through this outreach, individuals who’re frequently mixing Xanax and alcohol can get the help they so desperately need.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we do our part in sharing this type of information with everyone to learn more about the harmful practices those who struggle with substance abuse engage in.

Seeking Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or substance use disorders, don’t hesitate to seek help and call 1-866-326-4317 today. Getting the right medical advice diagnosis or treatment is paramount. Learn more about dual diagnosis and addiction treatment. Through our drug rehab programs that comprise inpatient and outpatient treatment plans, we can help you find the right path towards recovery. If you or someone you know is mixing Xanax and alcohol, seek medical attention immediately.

Don’t let the lethal effects of combining substances take away your life. Treatment is more available than you think. Reach out today and speak with an addiction therapist who can help you find the right treatment plan. You could be one phone call away from saving your life or the life of a loved one.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we’re committed to helping people receive the treatment they need. Our team wants everyone to know that recovery is possible. No matter how you feel right now, we promise there’s hope in your future. We’ll walk the path of healing with you and be there to offer the support you need.

đŸ›ˆÂ This page’s content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek your physician’s advice or another qualified health provider with any medical condition questions—full medical disclaimer.

Related Articles

Differences Between Habit and Addiction

Differences Between Habit and Addiction

The fine line between a habit and an addiction can often be challenging to see. Many habit-forming and addiction behaviors overlap in unexpected ways that sometimes people don’t see. Understanding the differences between habit and addiction is key to understanding how...

Withdrawal from Which Drugs Can Be Fatal?

Withdrawal from Which Drugs Can Be Fatal?

There's a lot of conflicting information about withdrawal from which drugs can be fatal. Withdrawal refers to someone's various physical and mental effects after they stop using a substance such as prescription medications, alcohol, or recreational drugs. Taking...

What Drugs Most Negatively Affect Mental Health?

What Drugs Most Negatively Affect Mental Health?

Drug addiction and mental illness go hand-in-hand. Compared to the general population, those with a substance use disorder are twice as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders, with the opposite also true. However, while substance abuse co-occurs with mental...

We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.