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Is It Safe to Combine Alprazolam and Alcohol?

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  • Written By: S. Berger
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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Alprazolam is a medication that belongs to the family of drugs known as benzodiazepines, and it is typically used to treat panic and anxiety disorders, as well as some seizure disorders. It is known as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, because it decreases activity in some circuits of the brain. Like other CNS depressants, it can be extremely dangerous, and even fatal, to combine alprazolam and alcohol. Several reasons exist for the severity of this risk.

Both alprazolam and alcohol have similar actions in the brain that accounts for their effects. They both bind to the same type of receptor in the brain that creates inhibitory effects. In turn, this means that the combination of the two may increase the side effects of alprazolam. Some side effects that can grow worse when both compounds are taken include memory loss, uncoordinated behavior, and drowsiness. Large doses of either or both substance can even cause an individual to have dangerously low breathing and heart rates.

The mental effects of this CNS depressant may become more pronounced when alprazolam and alcohol are mixed. Unusual or irrational behavior, aggressive emotions, and memory problems can all lead to problems with decision-making and complex tasks. Individuals combining the two could easily put themselves into dangerous or lethal situations, even if they have not taken enough of either substance to cause direct toxicity.

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Panic and anxiety disorders can potentially become worse for long periods of time following the combination of alprazolam and alcohol. Even initially mild disorders may be made more severe and problematic after such an experience. Symptoms of other mental illnesses may be made worse by mixing these two substances, as well. The combination of alcohol and alprazolam should be avoided by those with a history of alcohol abuse. Not only is the potential for harmful side effects more likely, but it could lead to a greater chance of abusing alprazolam, as well.

Alprazolam is usually a well-tolerated medication when not combined with other substances. Drinking on this medication, however, can drastically increase risks that may have not been apparent to the individual taking it before. Mixing alprazolam and alcohol has the capacity to produce a variety of physical and mental effects that could cause lifelong health issues, or even death. Individuals with a history of alcohol abuse should talk to their doctor about quitting alcohol or taking an alternative medication before taking alprazolam, in order to avoid potentially fatal risks.

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anon336184
Post 3

Believe this: I am 66 and can always tolerate two beers. I made the mistake of taking a 1mg xanax several hours before drinking those beers - with food. I could not stand up nor could I even walk without assistance. Be warned. I was lucky to have someone with me, otherwise I would have been sleeping on the curb.

JaneAir
Post 2

@strawCake - I am surprised your friends doctor didn't mention the possible interaction to her. I think she should have read the warning on the bottle though. They are usually displayed pretty prominently.

I worry more about people who use alprazolam to get high rather than people who had it prescribed to them. At least if it was prescribed to you, you have a fighting chance! If you just buy a pill from someone, you don't 100% know what it is. I doubt drug dealer tell their clients "Don't mix this with alcohol."

I can definitely see someone mixing pills and alcohol during a night of partying quite easily. So dangerous!

strawCake
Post 1

The effects of alcohol mixed with certain prescription medications are so scary. I have a friend who almost died from mixing alprazolam and alcohol! Her doctor neglected to tell her about the dangers and she's the kind of person who never reads the warning on the medications.

I really think it needs to be the doctors responsibility to warn patients about drug interactions as dangerous and severe as this one.

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