Many intoxicating substances can be fatal when used in excess; however, some combinations increase the likelihood of overdose and fatality. One such combination is simultaneous alcohol and Xanax consumption. As legal; substances, both drugs are easily accessible and often abused. To fully understand the dangers of this blend, it is important to examine the effects of these substances, as their similar natures often carry tragic consequences.


Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant (CNS). This substance is ever-present within society and is the most abused substance in the world. As a CNS, alcohol impacts brain function, motor skills, and cognitive functioning. When used in excess, alcohol is likely to act as a poison to the physical body, causing the user to vomit or become unconscious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 95,000 deaths each year are attributed to alcohol consumption. These fatalities include alcohol-induced traffic accidents, liver failure, and alcohol poisoning, among others.  


Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States with over 20 million active prescriptions in circulation within the U.S. today. This benzodiazepine is commonly prescribed to combat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia. When following the prescribed dosage, Xanax is relatively safe and effective in treating these disorders, however, the sedating properties of this drug put it at high risk for abuse. Similar to alcohol, Xanax is also a Central Nervous System Depressant. Xanax works by enhancing the brain chemical GABA which is primarily responsible for relaxation and sedation. Combining these two depressants generates dangerously high levels of sedation, potentially leading to overdose fatality. 

Alcohol and Xanax 

As central nervous system depressants, the effects of these substances are similar as they each cause sedation, breathing suppression,  and impaired cognitive functioning. When combining these two drugs, these effects are dangerously enhanced and the chances of overdose increase dramatically. The risk of unintentional overdose stems from the metabolization that takes place when both substances are present in the user’s system. Alcohol and Xanax are metabolized at different speeds, with alcohol being metabolized first when present in the system. This results in Xanax being present in the body for a prolonged period of time waiting to be metabolized.

As the user continues to drink, levels of Xanax remain stable and the user may inadvertently take more pills, thinking enough time has passed between doses. Due to the intoxicating effect of these two substances, Individuals may easily lose control of their Xanax intake, alcohol consumption, or misjudge their level of impairment. Prolonged, simultaneous use of these substances eventually results in seizures, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness or “blackouts”, neurological issues, coma, and death. 


Asheville Recovery Center Can Help 

Alcohol and Xanax are both highly addictive and dangerous when abused on their own,  especially, when combined. It is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with any substance addiction. At Asheville Recovery Center, treatment specialists have developed a unique, hybrid model of treatment which combines a traditional 12-step program with holistic rehabilitation. A multitude of services, programs, and therapies are offered, including the Partial Hospitalization Program, Residential-style treatment, outpatient rehabilitation, and more. 

The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)383-0784 and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety

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