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The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Anxiety Disorder
The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Introduction

In our quest for relief from life’s challenges, it is important to understand the choices we make. Xanax and alcohol are two substances that people often turn to for relaxation, but they have vastly different properties and potential consequences. Let’s dive into the details.

What is Xanax?

Alprazolam or Xanax is a benzodiazepine medically approved for anxiety and panic disorders. Benzodiazepines are designed to work on the neurotransmitters of the brain to induce their sedative and anxiolytic properties. While their exact mechanism of action is unclear, animal studies have shown that benzos bind to the GABA receptors in the CNS and modulate the receptor channels to impact important working mechanisms like sleep, emotions, and memory.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a non-specific drug that, in contrast to benzos, decreases the GABA receptors and makes you drowsy. Also, it contains Ethanol that works on the neuronal lipid layers to exert its effects on the central nervous system. Alcohol has been used for centuries as a mood-enhancer, anxiolytic, and sedative owing to its benzo-like effects on the brain’s neurons. But when used immoderately, it can impact motor coordination, slow down reaction time, and impair judgment.

The Purpose of Use

Healthcare professionals primarily use Xanax for generalized anxiety disorders and panic disorder conditions. Off-label, it is used for insomnia, depression, and premenstrual syndrome ( hormonal changes during the menstrual cycles that cause mood swings, fatigue, irritability, and cravings ). Despite its therapeutic benefits, Xanax is meant for short-term use and should be used under medical supervision to avoid dependence and misuse.

Alcohol was initially used as an antiseptic and disinfectant and had a different structure from the alcohol used for consumption. Ethyl alcohol ( C2H5OH) is consumable alcohol, used medically as a disinfectant, and is a component of motor fuels. Isopropyl alcohol (C3H7OH) is used in cosmetics, antiseptics, and disinfectants but is not for consumption. While alcohol use is legal for adults in the majority of countries, excessively using it can cause serious health problems.

Effect of Action

Xanax acts quickly in the body, with its effects typically felt within 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion. Even though its primary purpose is to provide a calming and soothing sensation, factors like certain food intake, alcohol intake, and concomitant use with other medicines can impact its rate of absorption.

Alcohol affects the brain more broadly, slowing down its functions and leading to impaired judgment and coordination. Its effects are dose-dependent, and excessive consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning and organ damage.

Short-Term Effects

In the short term, both Xanax and alcohol can provide relief from anxiety and stress. Xanax can cause drowsiness, muscle relaxation, and a sense of calm. Alcohol can produce a calming effect and make you feel relaxed and confident.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term use of Xanax can result in serious side effects like seizures, vision deterioration, and memory impairment. Prolonged alcohol use can damage the liver and seriously impact the heart and digestive system. Researchers have pointed out that indiscriminate alcohol use can increase stomach, liver, and pancreas cancer risk.

Addiction Potential

Xanax has a high potential for addiction, especially when used recreationally or outside a doctor’s recommendations. Sudden cessation can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Alcohol, too, is highly addictive, and long-term h consumption can lead to alcohol use disorder resulting in a  strong craving for alcoholic beverages, loss of control over drinking and withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from Xanax can be uncomfortable and even life-threatening. Symptoms may include anxiety, panic attacks, tremors, and seizures. Alcohol withdrawal can be equally severe, with symptoms ranging from mild anxiety and shakiness to delirium tremens (DT), a life-threatening condition characterized by hallucinations and seizures.

Overdose Risk

Both Xanax and alcohol carry a risk of overdose. Overdosing on Xanax can lead to extreme drowsiness, confusion, and respiratory depression. Alcohol overdose can result in alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.

Combining Xanax and Alcohol

Combining Xanax and alcohol is especially dangerous, as both impact the central nervous system and can be lethal when combined

Legal Status

Xanax is a controlled substance, and its possession without a prescription is illegal. Alcohol, though regulated, is legal for adults in most countries but has age restrictions.

Seeking Help and Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax or alcohol use, seeking professional help is essential. Treatment options include therapy, counselling, and support groups to help manage addiction and achieve sobriety.

Conclusion

In the battle between Xanax and alcohol, neither emerges as a clear winner. Both have their uses but also come with significant risks. It’s crucial to use them responsibly, if at all, and seek help when needed to avoid the perils of dependence and addiction.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is Xanax stronger than alcohol in terms of anxiety relief?

Xanax is a physician-approved medication used for anxiety relief, while alcohol is a self-medication that can produce variable and sometimes unpredictable impacts on anxiety.

  1. What are the signs of Xanax addiction?

Slurred speech, confusion, drowsiness, weakness, and blurred vision are some of the main signs of Xanax addiction.

  1. How can I safely quit Xanax if I’m dependent on it?

Medical detox is one of the chief ways to get rid of Xanax in a safe way. Whether or not you can detox at home or would indeed detox under your doctor’s care depends on the physician’s advice and the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

  1. Are there any health benefits to moderate alcohol consumption?

Emerging evidence has shown moderate alcohol consumption to be good for heart health. However, there are no conclusive data to prove the hypothesis. Despite the purported benefits, individuals under 21, those with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people recovering from alcohol use disorder should abstain from drinking.

  1. What should I do if someone is experiencing an overdose of Xanax or alcohol?

If you see someone experiencing an overdose from Xanax or alcohol, get urgent medical attention by calling 911 or your local emergency number.

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