Recovery Center Blog

The Dangers of Mixing Ambien and Xanax

Written By Recovery Centers - March 17th, 2022
The Dangers of Mixing Ambien and Xanax

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults each year.[1] Many of these individuals take medications to manage the symptoms of their anxiety. One of the most popular medications for anxiety is known as Xanax (alprazolam).

Similarly, insomnia is also an extremely common mental health issue in the United States. According to research, up to 30% of American adults suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders.[2] Individuals who take medication for their insomnia might be familiar with a prescription medication known as Ambien (zolpidem).

Both Ambien and Xanax are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Because of this, individuals suffering from anxiety and insomnia should not take the two medications at once.

Additionally, both substances are known to have habit-forming properties, often causing dependency and addiction. Unfortunately, individuals who abuse Ambien and Xanax simultaneously are at risk of experiencing an array of adverse effects.

What Does Ambien (Zolpidem) Do?

Ambien

Ambien belongs to the sedative-hypnotic drug class. Substances belonging to this class of drugs tend to have a calming and depressive effect on an individual’s brain.

Ambien affects the GABA neurotransmitter. GABA is responsible for inhibiting nerve transmission, which causes a reduction in neural excitability. In other words, Ambien causes feelings of sleepiness and relaxation as a result of how the substance interacts with GABA and the central nervous system.

Other than helping individuals with insomnia sleep, Ambien may produce the following side effects:

Ambien Side Effects

  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Unsteady walking or stumbling
  • Feeling high
  • Sleepwalking
  • Night terrors and vivid dreams
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Shakiness of extremities
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Ambien can cause concerning episodes of sleepwalking, often accompanied by aggressive behavior. Additionally, Ambien is a habit-forming drug that can lead to addiction when abused. Because of this, Ambien should only be taken under the direction of a medical professional.

What are the Effects of Xanax (Alprazolam)?

Xanax

Xanax belongs to the benzodiazepine drug class. Benzodiazepines are CNS depressants, working by calming neuron activity in the brain. The medication soothes feelings of anxiety, panic, and even prevents seizures for individuals with seizure disorders.

Unfortunately, Xanax is a popular drug of abuse. This causes individuals to mix Xanax with other addictive substances, leading to dangerous consequences and increasing their potential for overdose.

Aside from providing relief from anxiety, Xanax may cause the following side effects:

Xanax Side Effects

  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headaches and sensitivity to light
  • Irritability
  • Talkativeness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased salivation
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Severe memory issues
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Blacking out
  • Impulsive and compulsive behavior
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Addiction

Xanax and Ambien are similar, as they are both CNS depressants that affect the GABA neurotransmitter. Because of this, mixing the two drugs is extremely dangerous and could lead to a fatal overdose.

What Happens When you Mix Ambien and Xanax?

Mixing Ambien and Xanax is not a good idea. When someone combines the two drugs, the effects of each substance become amplified.

Because they are both CNS depressants, mixing them could depress the CNS past the point of return. This could result in sedation, respiratory depression, and overdose.

The side effects of mixing Ambien and Xanax include:

  • Memory loss
  • Issues with learning
  • Psychological and physical dependency
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sedation
  • Breathing issues as severe as respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Death

Because fatal overdoses are a serious concern, early intervention is key. With that being said, individuals who abuse both drugs should seek professional help as soon as possible.

The Dangers of Combining Xanax and Ambien

Mixing Ambien and Xanax could lead to fatal consequences. Additionally, both drugs are habit-forming and highly addictive. Because of this, mixing the two could lead to polydrug addiction.

Polydrug Addiction

Polydrug addiction is characterized by an individual becoming addicted to two or more substances at a time. This is a serious risk for individuals who abuse both Xanax and Ambien.

Because zolpidem and alprazolam are known drugs of abuse, individuals who abuse these substances simultaneously will become addicted to both. This is extremely dangerous, as polydrug addiction often leads to life-threatening overdoses, increased physical health conditions, and exacerbated mental health conditions.

Overdose

The most concerning risk of mixing Ambien and Xanax is the possibility of experiencing a fatal overdose. When an individual takes two central nervous system depressants, their bodily functions and organs become severely impacted. Oftentimes, this causes organs to shut down completely.

The symptoms of overdose include the following:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness or sedation
  • Difficulty speaking or forming words
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

If an individual is experiencing the symptoms of an overdose, emergency medical services must be contacted immediately.

Find Help for Yourself or an Addicted Loved One

If you or a loved one suffer from polydrug addiction, attending treatment is of the utmost importance. The combination of Xanax and Ambien can quickly become fatal, so early intervention is key. Thankfully, Recovery Centers is a program dedicated to helping you and your family find the help you need.

We are here to help you find the best Drug and Alcohol Recovery Centers all over the United States. Our mission is to arm you with the facts before making the huge decision to go to a Recovery Center. 

Contact us today to get started.

References:

  1. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5353813/