The Relationship Between Alcohol and Xanax
Alcohol and Xanax are considered “downers,” with alcohol in its own drug classification, and Xanax classified as a benzodiazepine. Both alcohol and Xanax (generic: alprazolam) affect the concentration of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA.
With Xanax, the concentration of dopamine (another inhibitory neurotransmitter) is increased in the central nervous system causing a sedative or tranquilizing effect, and even a mild euphoria for some.
“Alcohol and Xanax have very similar effects in that they lower your inhibitions and raise your confidence.” -Dr. Barton Blinder, MD
Alcohol increases the concentration of dopamine as well, but by affecting one serotonin receptor. The variety of feelings and behaviors associated with the amount of alcohol consumed are due to the first effect of increasing the concentration of GABA, which in turn affects the concentration of another inhibitory neurotransmitter, glycine found in the spinal cord and brain stem.
Therefore, four inhibitory neurotransmitters, GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and glycine, all contribute to the effects of alcohol. Furthermore, each individual reacts in their own way due to the following variables:
- Nature of each inhibitory neurotransmitter (chemical substances)
- Amount of chemical substances each individual’s body produces through consumption
- Combination and concentration of chemical substances
- Tolerance to chemical substances that individuals develop by continual consumption over time.
Which Is “Better or Worse”: Alcohol or Xanax?
This seems to be an ongoing debate that depends on who you ask, and how “better / worst” is interpreted.
“Users” of one, the other, both, or in combination with a different drug altogether, hold varying opinions. Their answers focus on the following four factors:
- Doctors’ recommendations
- The Internet
- Personal experiences.
|Alcohol Users||Xanax Users||Users of Both||Other Users|
|“Im not sure how xanax can be recreational. It just makes me drowsy and sleepy…Yeah sleeping on xanax feels soooo nice but also feels like a total waste. I never took enough to black out but that doesn’t sound that fun either. Alcohol all the way. – ayeaye||“I prefer benzos to alcohol in someways. 1 if I take a slight dose at night which for me is 1-2mgs cause my tolerance is low …but I also have anxiety and I absolutely LOVE the calmed feeling I get from them and how they just completely diminish my anxiety like nothing…So overall I like benzos…” -Siccness909||“I know from personal experience that alcohol and benzos can be a very pleasant combination. I also know from experience that they can lead you into serious, life altering incident in the blink of an eye.” – Halif2||“Of the gabaergics I’ve tried (alcohol, ghb/gbl, benzos, phenibut) the best euphoria is from ghb, second is alcohol, third are benzos….” -black53|
|“Benzos honestly should not be viewed recreational in any way. Although the GABAergic effects of benzodiazepines provide relief from anxiety, in no way are they recreational. I don’t understand why people take xanax, valium…recreationally. It is a waste of time and can be extremely dangerous. I would rather drink a couple beers and relax.” – Shefatasfukc||“Xanax = I recommend to use it ONLY at night before bed to help with bad insomnia or just to ‘relax’ before bed. If taken in ‘recreational’ dosages in the daytime or when out and about with friends you are liable and likely to do some (and say some) of the DUMBEST shit you’ve ever done in your life. Now in therapeutic doses (0.5mg – 2mg) it can help people feel More relaxed and reduce anxiety.” – gh0stmAn||“[I’m] taking half a xanax (1mg) along with 1-3 beers. 5 MAX…I find this to be the perfect buzz, I know how addictive xanax is and can be, but I’m not worried about that part.” – FoleySkids||“xanax bar, liquor, one hit of acid = one of the dumbest nights of my life…
xanax bar = $5
Medical Professionals’ Answers
Medical professionals interpret “better / worst” very differently and in no way does it refer to a patient’s desire to get high or have fun. When it comes to medical professionals’ treatment decisions, their goal is to improve patients’ overall health. Therefore “better” refers to whether or not alcohol and/or Xanax cause more harm or more good, especially considering the addictive potential.
Medical professionals licensed to prescribe medications:
- Medical doctors (MD) and Doctors of Oncology (DO) – general practitioners, internal medicine, family doctors, and specialists including psychiatrists
- Nurse Practitioners (NP)
- Doctors of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Doctors of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) – dentists and dental specialists
Medical professionals not licensed to prescribe medications:
- Doctors of Psychology (PsyD) and Doctors of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) – psychologists
- Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT)
Whether the medical professional is licensed to prescribe medication or not, all are most concerned with patients’ overall health. They take into consideration both physical and mental health, including a patient’s lifestyle, meaning that they ask patients how much and how often they drink caffeine and/or alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and/or do any other recreational drugs.
If the professional believes the patient should be taking prescribed medication (those who cannot prescribe medications will refer to a professional who can), they then weigh the benefits with the negative side effects of any drugs the patient is currently taking or may take. Professionals licensed to prescribe medications often work in coordination with those who take the psychotherapeutic approach..
According to medical doctors, when Xanax is used in combination with alcohol, which is never recommended by health professionals, the effects are unique to each individual. Doctors encourage patients to avoid depending on medication or alcohol to calm anxiety. Drugs and medications simply mask the real emotional problems or issues.
One doctor suggests self-reflection to figure out current bothersome issues through psychotherapy by, “…find[ing] a well qualified psychologist or therapist to help you find other ways to deal with the problems you have. Also, find a well qualified family practice or internist doctor who will work closely with your therapist to formulate a comprehensive treatment plan to help you.” – John G. Van Derwood, MD. Not only does this medical doctor strongly suggest that the patient, their primary care doctor, and any mental health professional work together in unison, but he believes it is necessary to develop the best treatment plan for successful and continued recovery.
Dr. Grant T. Bright, PhD, LPC suggests a strictly psychotherapeutic approach to an experimenting patient, stating, “You are escaping what? Or you are trying to get high? Taking Xanax and drinking beer and wine gets you drunk…and gets you zoned way out … not good. Now that you have experimented, you didn’t like the way you felt. So listen to what your body is telling. Mixing up all that is NOT good. Learn and don’t mix, better yet … trying getting “high” watching a beautiful sunset, or watching the moon rise. I saw an asteroid zoom across Georgia…major kewl !!!” This doctor encourages patients to discover the natural highs in life.
Consequences – Is the Risk Worth the High?
This depends on the users being asked since medical professionals do not consider the “high” a positive health benefit. Users’ minds and bodies are affected differently due to numerous variables, so they prioritize the fun or escape from reality first, followed by the withdrawal symptoms, specifically the length and pain endured. However, users with other psychological conditions, inexperienced users, and have never used, or sometimes this is the best and only consequence of using. These users do not always realize the damage to their minds and bodies until they are experiencing the effects.
Both Drugs are not only seductively enticing, but the addiction tends to gradually and subtly emerge until it is full-fledged and evident to the user, which is too late.
When You’re Ready to Quit
Addicts of alcohol, Xanax, or both usually reach a “bottom,” or turning point during which they realize their desire to quit. This is the beginning of the road to recovery.
Until I was given the opportunity to detox and begin recovery, I never knew that the withdrawal from quitting alcohol and Xanax can actually be lethal.