Polysubstance abuse occurs when someone uses more than one drug at once. Many do not consider alcohol a drug but, when combined with medications (or illicit drugs), the interactions that occur can be dangerous or even fatal. It is not uncommon for someone to unintentionally combine substances. For example, taking prescribed medication and drinking a couple of glasses of wine while not realizing the potential adverse complications.
Other people intentionally engage in polysubstance abuse. In these cases, it is done as an effort to experience greater effects from multiple substances. Although using both substances can indeed enhance the desired effects of the drugs, polysubstance abuse enhances the potential negative (and dangerous) effects of each drug as well. Without comprehensive addiction treatment, those who combine alcohol and Xanax are at a higher risk for overdose.
What Happens When You Mix Xanax and Alcohol?
Drug overdose remains an all-too-common cause of death in the United States. In 2019, nearly 71,000 people died as a direct result of a drug overdose. Of those, approximately 14% involved benzodiazepines, the class of drug to which Xanax belongs. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax can be highly addictive. Although prescribed by a medical provider for legitimate reasons, they are commonly misused or abused, leading to overdose and even death. While the amount of Xanax needed to suffer a fatal overdose (from Xanax alone) is relatively high, the risk of overdose increases significantly when combined with other substances such as alcohol. Alcohol and Xanax are both depressants. This means they slow the function of various body systems, including the brain, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. When combined, alcohol and Xanax can produce fatal side effects.
Xanax is a prescription sedative. It is commonly prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax (and other benzodiazepines) aim to slow the activity of the central nervous system to produce a calming effect. Alcohol is also a sedative. Alcohol and Xanax both increase the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter responsible for slowing the central nervous system. While this slowing effect is beneficial as a means for reducing specific symptoms related to mental illness (or seizure disorders), the combined sedative effect of alcohol and Xanax can lead to oversedation, which is dangerous and possibly fatal. Mixing Xanax and alcohol can result in fainting, slowed breathing, slurred speech, slowed heart rate, impaired coordination, memory loss, seizures, delirium, and death.
If I Mix Xanax and Alcohol, Do I Have an Addiction?
If you or a loved one are mixing Xanax and alcohol, it is essential to seek addiction treatment. Detoxing from one substance or the other, on their own, can be difficult. Detoxing from co-occurring alcohol and Xanax abuse should be done under medical supervision to ensure your safety throughout the process. Even if Xanax was prescribed to help treat an underlying condition, if you have been abusing alcohol and Xanax over an extended period, you have likely developed a dependency. When you stop using, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms.
In many cases, this would be described as having an addiction. The intensity or severity of your withdrawal symptoms will depend. On how long you have been abusing alcohol and antics, how often you use both drugs, and how much you drink. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to dangerous and potentially fatal. It is for this reason that medically assisted detox. It is essential to help you successfully achieve sobriety. Attempting to self-detox (otherwise known as cold turkey) is never advised. This is especially true if you’ve been using it regularly for a long time. Medically assisted detox at a treatment facility such as Bayshore Retreat helps minimize the risk and danger associated with withdrawal symptoms.
Bayshore Retreat Is Here to Help You Heal
Choosing to start an addiction treatment program is a difficult decision; however, it affords you the greatest opportunity for treatment and recovery success. Our caring and compassionate treatment team will help you learn more about your addiction and ways to defeat your addiction and begin a healthy, drug-free life. Recovery from addiction is possible. The first step is to reach out to the admissions team at Bayshore Retreat today.