What are The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol?

Last Updated: January 18, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Drinking even small amounts of alcohol with Xanax can lead to fatal overdoses and other side effects such as confusion and trouble breathing.

Xanax and alcohol can be a dangerous, even fatal, combination. Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine that may be prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. It’s a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that works by slowing the activity in the brain. When mixed with other CNS depressants, like alcohol, the risk of side effects from each substance increases.

Can You Drink on Xanax?

Drinking alcohol with Xanax is risky, unsafe and should be avoided. Even small amounts of alcohol mixed with Xanax can lead to increased side effects and cause fatal overdoses.

Side Effects of Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Since alcohol and Xanax are both CNS depressants, they have similar side effects, increasing the risk of side effects and overdose when mixed. Some harmful side effects that may increase by mixing Xanax and alcohol include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Unable to awaken
  • Trouble breathing
  • Slowed breathing
  • Seizure

How Long After Taking Xanax Can I Drink?

Xanax reaches peak levels in the body one to two hours after a single dose. The average half-life of Xanax is 11.2 hours in healthy adults. This is the amount of time it takes the body to metabolize and get rid of half the Xanax in your system. It takes about four to five half-lives for a drug to be 94% to 97% eliminated from the body. A single dose of Xanax may remain detectable in healthy adults for as long as two days.

How quickly the body metabolizes a drug is affected by factors such as age, gender and health status. Older individuals may take longer to metabolize the same amount of a drug as younger individuals. Other medications may also affect the metabolism of Xanax. Certain drugs may extend how long Xanax lasts in the system, such as:

  • Ketoconazole
  • Itraconazole
  • Clarithromycin
  • Nefazodone
  • Erythromycin
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Cimetidine

How Long After Drinking Can I Take Xanax?

The half-life of alcohol is four to five hours. It takes the body about five half-lives to get rid of most of the alcohol in your system, so alcohol may be detectable in your system for as long as 25 hours after the last drink. Several factors may affect how quickly the body clears alcohol, including:

  • Medications
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body size
  • Health conditions

Xanax and Alcohol Overdose

While overdose is possible with both Xanax and alcohol alone, the risk of overdose greatly increases when the two are taken together. Overdose in people taking Xanax can happen with smaller amounts of alcohol than typically seen with most fatal alcohol overdoses. Signs of Xanax overdose include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Decreased alertness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Coma

Since both Xanax and alcohol are CNS depressants, the signs of overdose overlap for both. Signs of alcohol overdose include:

  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Slowed breathing
  • Decreased alertness
  • Coma

If an overdose from Xanax, alcohol or a combination of both is suspected, you should immediately call 9-1-1 for help and follow these steps.

  • Stay with the person you suspect is overdosing.
  • Keep the person on the ground sitting or partially upright.
  • Help a vomiting person lean forward to prevent choking.
  • Roll an unconscious person on their side to prevent choking.
  • Prepare to provide information to responders on what the person drank and other substances they took.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax addiction or alcohol use disorder, contact The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper today. Our team of licensed addiction experts can provide evidence-based, compassionate treatment that starts you on the road to long-term recovery.


  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Alcohol.” MedlinePlus, March 22, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Alprazolam.” MedlinePlus, May 15, 2021. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Ethanol poisoning.” MedlinePlus, February 12, 2021. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose.” Accessed August 15, 2022.
  5. George T.T., et al. “Alprazolam.” StatPearls, May 1, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  6. Hallare J., et al. “Half life.” StatPearls, June 23, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  7. Cleveland Clinic. “How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?” Digestive, December 3, 2021. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  8. Food and Drug Administration. “XANAX- alprazolam tablet.” March 2021. Accessed August 15, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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