Xanax is a central nervous system depressant and part of the benzodiazepine class of sedative drugs. Also known as benzos, these drugs induce dopamine production, which means Xanax increases the feeling of pleasure and decreases feelings of negative mental states.
Due to its pleasurable effects, many people engage in Xanax abuse recreationally rather than for medicine. Users may experience feelings of detachment as well, and over time, the brain becomes dependent on Xanax and stops producing certain neurotransmitters without it.
Some of the side effects of Xanax abuse include:
- Dry mouth
- Change in sex drive
More serious side effects of Xanax abuse include:
- Impaired memory
- Marked drowsiness
- Impaired coordination
- Issues with speech
- Shortness of breath
- Suicidal thoughts
Xanax Abuse, Alcohol Abuse, and Their Impact on the Liver
The enzymes in the liver called cytochrome P450 reductase and CYP2E1 process both Xanax and alcohol. In people who regularly ingest one or the other, CYP2E1 metabolizes substances at a higher speed. If substances are not consumed frequently, metabolism occurs much slower. Xanax and alcohol compete for priority when in the system together. The liver slows metabolism for the substances, allowing both to build potency.
Long-term use of Xanax and alcohol can create fatty liver, liver cirrhosis, damaged nerve tissue in the liver, liver inflammation, and liver failure. The effect of these substances on the liver is further impacted by an inactive version of the gene that creates ALDH2.
Approximately 40% of the Asian population experiences a “flush” effect as alcohol is metabolized. This results from the lack of ALDH2. Alcohol can cause many adverse effects on the liver. These major signs of alcohol abuse can include an excessive buildup of fat, inflammation (which is known as alcoholic hepatitis), and replacement of normal tissue with scar tissue.
What Is Alcohol Hepatitis?
According to a study done by the National Library of Medicine, “Alcoholic hepatitis is a severe syndrome related to alcoholic liver disease. It is characterized by rapid onset of jaundice, malaise, tender hepatomegaly, and subtle features of systemic inflammatory response.”
The liver becomes inflamed and swollen, destroying the cells, and can vary from mild to severe. It can last for years if it is a mild case, progressively causing liver damage. Severe cases usually occur after a binge and can be life-threatening. The only way to improve this condition is to stop drinking altogether.
Combined Effects Experienced
If a person combines Xanax abuse and alcohol abuse, they will feel the effects of both substances, which means that they experience sedation, decreased reflexes, and even unconsciousness. Since the liver makes processing the alcohol a priority, there may be a dangerous buildup of Xanax in the system. People may experience aggression, irritability, lightheadedness, and cognitive issues.
Using Xanax and alcohol together increases the risk of a blackout because both substances affect the function of neurotransmitters. When the drugs combine, they can shut down the automatic functions of the body, such as breathing and heart rate. There is the risk that if too much of one or both are taken, the person taking them will stop breathing. Brain damage and severe damage to other organs are also a possibility.
As there is a high risk for liver damage, there is also a high risk for kidney damage when using Xanax and alcohol at the same time. There is more potential for overdose because they are both central nervous system depressants.
With increased Xanax abuse, overdose, depressive episodes, and seizures are more likely to occur. Taking Xanax and alcohol together increases the risk of overdose since the individual is more prone to lose track of how much they ingest. Additionally, the potential of developing physical dependence is higher than using one of the drugs alone. Permanent brain injury, coma, or even death are much more possible.
Xanax and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be hazardous, sometimes even deadly. There can be several withdrawal symptoms even after a short time of no use. Some symptoms include intense anxiety, aches and pain, insomnia, vomiting, shaking, mental instability, and seizures that could result in death.
The most common withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol are tremors, restlessness, insomnia, nightmares, fever, nausea, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, increased agitation, and tremulousness.
Detoxing from Xanax and/or Alcohol
Since alcohol and Xanax withdrawal usually have the same risks, detoxing from benzos should be done in a medical setting with round-the-clock monitoring. There may be medical interventions administered to keep people safe, and medications may be used to reduce the risk of seizures, agitation, and delirium.
Seeking Help For Xanax Abuse & Alcohol Abuse
After medical detox and managed withdrawal, the next phase is rehab treatment. The goal of the person in treatment is to maintain sobriety, develop coping skills, and improve relationships. At this time, inpatient and outpatient care options are dependent on the level of care that someone requires.
Recovery is the objective, but mental health disorders should be a part of the treatment plan to get to the root of the individual’s substance abuse issues.
Abusing alcohol or Xanax alone can cause a number of mild to severe effects. When taken together, all of the risks increase. The chances of overdose and death increase, as well as the risk of developing dependency. Plus, when someone takes both of these drugs together, they may experience many intense negative sensations. There is no safe way to go about this.
When it comes to detoxing these substances, the withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly intense, which is why medical detox is needed. There is a necessity for constant monitoring as sometimes it may become so severe that professionals may need to intervene with treatments or medications.
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