To drink or to stop drinking so much
August 22, 2009 6:54 PM   Subscribe

How bad is it to take Xanax with a glass or two of wine?

I never used to drink. I hated the taste of wine and liquor. But now I've found a kind of wine I really like, and I've gone through three bottles of wine this week alone. Also, I like taking my Xanax (.25 mg) with it.

I don't drink until I throw up or am blitzed out of my mind. I haven't been able to learn to relax my whole life aand am prone to anxiety. This drinking wine and taking Xanax with it has really, really helped me when nothing else has.

Should I stop mixing the Xanax with alcohol? Should I not drink more than 1 glass of wine a night? If it matters, in figuring out how much I can drink without damaging myself, I'm 5'3 and about 107lbs.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Bad ? It's great! Seriously though, They are both respiratory depressants, but from my experience ( I'm not a dr. , or your dr. ) at that dosage and with that amount of wine, I wouldn't perceive that there should be much cause for concern.
posted by horsemuth at 7:07 PM on August 22, 2009

Although, at 3 bottles a week, that alone may be of concern.
posted by horsemuth at 7:09 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I don't know about the Xanax, but 3 bottles of wine == 1/2 bottle per night == ~2/3 glasses. That sounds fine to me.
posted by sbutler at 7:18 PM on August 22, 2009

As with other such activities-- Everything In Moderation. Yeah, maybe a xanax with a drink or two is fine every now and then. Heaven knows how many people do this, and are fine. But when you are doing it frequently, and especially as a means to self-treat anxiety, that's when it is a potential problem.
posted by greta simone at 7:20 PM on August 22, 2009

Xanax + booze = mindwiped zombie asshole, if you ask me. And there's a razor-thin margin between "happily relaxed" and "doing stupid dangerous shit you won't remember tomorrow". Don't get me wrong: I'm whole-heartedly in favor of drinking and taking drugs. But that particular combination is one that rarely ends well. I'm sure I'll get shouted down by folks who chase a Xanax with a cocktail and suffer no ill effect, and more power to them. But if I were you, I'd pick one or the other.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:22 PM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

A xanax and a couple drinks sounds just delicious. I've certainly done as much on occasion. The dangerous part is extra xanax... like, 1 xanax + 3 drinks is less concerning than 2 xanax + 2 drinks or 3 xanax + 1 drink. Start pushing it, and you court respiratory distress.

But three bottles of wine a week is roughly half a bottle of wine a day. For somebody who weighs 100 pounds, that's not an insignificant amount. You say you aren't drinking to puking or to blitz. But you are getting drunk every night.

I'd be worried about dependence. Doubly so if what you're really doing is self-medicating for anxiety. If you're comfortable with that, I don't think you're doing any more damage to yourself than the alcohol's cumulative liver effects.
posted by Netzapper at 7:24 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Self-medicating with alcohol tends to end badly, even without benzos. Your doctor will probably tell you the same thing in much stronger language.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 7:25 PM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

I haven't been able to learn to relax my whole life aand am prone to anxiety. This drinking wine and taking Xanax with it has really, really helped me when nothing else has.

Go back to whoever prescribed the Xanax to you and tell them exactly this. Your anxiety problems are not being properly treated, so you're self-medicating with alcohol. Even if the precise amount of wine and Xanax you're taking is safe, the practice of treating your own anxiety by combining prescription drugs and alcohol is definitely not safe.

You need to work with your doctor to find a treatment regime which reduces your anxiety without putting you at risk of substance abuse. There are plenty of options out there - cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation exercises, meditation, other kinds of medication. What you're doing right is not a sustainable solution, and you know it.
posted by embrangled at 7:33 PM on August 22, 2009 [18 favorites]

Not going to knock the Xanax-wine combo, though I do worry, along with horsemuth, about both being CNS depressants. Also you can gain a tolerance to each (esp. the Xanax) within a short time, and you may find that one .25 mg dose of Xanax does not do next week what it does this week.

You said you've never been able to learn to relax. I didn't know how to, either, until I got treated for my anxiety. Before that I'd take a Xanax when I had to fly somewhere, and it would be a revelation to me: "So this is what it feels like not to be worried and anxious!" Later I realized that was a big clue that I needed some help.

Would it be possible for you to treated for your anxiety, and/or find a more life-enhancing way than Xanax and wine to deal with your anxiety-proneness?

Best of luck to you.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 7:44 PM on August 22, 2009

As a daily habit, yeah that's a pretty stiff combo. Another vote for letting your dr know you need something else or a stronger dosage.
posted by CwgrlUp at 8:30 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me like you are abusing alcohol and, because you are not taking it in the ways prescribed and flouting established medical advice, abusing xanax. I think admitting that you have an anxiety problem, personally only makes me MORE worried. You are using dangerous, addictive substances is dangerous ways, rather than complying with medical advice. The fact is, you are making this a habit and over time one .25 xanax won't cut it. So you'll add another. And maybe even another. Because we all know after a half a bottle of wine and some xanax, judgment isn't at its all-time high caliber.

I say this as someone who has been prescribed xanax, and formerly drank quite heavily. So I know exactly what .25 xanax does or doesn't do, over time.

I know you are looking for a simple "Hey, no big deal, you have ANXIETY, and so this is fine, just relax and enjoy!" And you have gotten that in about half of these comments. And I know you will sit back (probably after popping a xanax) and read those and be totally comforted by it and just think those voices saying different are worrying too much. But, with all due respect, you'll be wrong.
posted by bunnycup at 8:59 PM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

Occasionally, no, that's unlikely to do you much harm, and your liver is currently probably fine. However, as a habit? Something you do on an almost daily basis? Please, don't.

You may be tempted after a particularly hard day to have a bit more Xanax or wine - after all, .25mg and a glass or two have done nothing but mitigate your anxiety so far. And if that's fine, well, maybe the next time you're feeling really crappy... With drugs like alcohol and benzodiazepines - drugs that tend to amplify each other's effects - it's easy for that kind of momentary lapse of judgement to have nasty consequences. Relatively small dose changes can have surprisingly large effects. There's a reason this particular combination of drugs is often implicated in blackouts or, worse by far, deaths.

Furthermore, benzos are notoriously addictive; if you're taking Xanax daily, dependence is almost certainly a concern (which your psychiatrist has told you, right?) Having half a bottle of wine every night a week isn't the best of habits either, particularly given your sudden increase in alcohol consumption and the fact that you're relatively small. Alcohol can also, of course, be habit-forming and fairly easy to OD on. Put together, these things mean trouble.

So please, talk with your psychiatrist and psychologist (it was your psychiatrist who provided you with this Xanax, right?) It doesn't sound like your current treatment plan, whatever it consists of, is adequate for your anxiety. Self-medicating is dangerous; you need to be figure out your treatment with the help of a professional.
posted by ubersturm at 10:37 PM on August 22, 2009

You can definitely drink a half-bottle of wine a night for years, even for your whole life, and people do it, but it's more than medically recommended if that's what you're asking. You can also drink a half-bottle with xanax and be fine the next day. But it sounds like you went from nothing to half-bottle-with-xanax every night, and that's pretty worrying. Because if that's the level you start at, you'll probably escalate. I used to do that sort of stuff too but it's definitely not a good idea. You should find a better medically approved route to managing your anxiety, or just try getting some more exercise.
posted by creasy boy at 11:45 PM on August 22, 2009

You can, sure, but you can really see to see it in people's faces after a few years. After ten years you'll start to look like you've aged twenty. That much alcohol / body weight really does a number on the face (as well as liver) over time.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:02 AM on August 23, 2009

At that weight, that amount of wine alone has me concerned. I weigh a lot more than you and one glass of wine is plenty to help me unwind, and that's with no medication with it.

I lost a coworker a few months ago, and it was pretty clear it was her abuse of prescription drugs (probably with alcohol) that killed her. She was only 31. No, I'm sure you aren't doing all the things she was doing, but she started SOMEWHERE. Don't start something that has the potential to lead to really bad stuff, please.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:11 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

i think it really depends on your personal definition of "bad". and your personal tolerance for both the alcohol and the xanax. and your personal discussion with your doctor. this might be some kind of a personal issue?

personally, i could drink quite a few beers and take a xanax, topped with some pot, and feel absolutely wonderful. one night that xanax was upped considerably on some kind of binge, and i suffered greatly from "mindwiped zombie asshole", vomiting, and then a heavy sleep, all followed with a couple days amongst the living dead.

i try not to mix pills with my drinking anymore, because i prefer to avoid the chance that my impaired judgement should decide to impair itself further.

my regular judgement is bad enough.
posted by Palerale at 8:21 AM on August 23, 2009

Here's the thing. Occasionally having a glass of wine and a Xanax might not be a problem. I've done it, too.

Combining them every night against medical advice is indicative that something is going on. I got into a drink + Klonopin cycle some years ago, and it started off relatively benign and wound up being a bit of a problem. Don't do that--it was no fun.

embrangled is spot on. Go back to your doc and talk about what you're doing. What you're doing now is self-medicating with unreliable dosages, using central nervous system depressants that are contraindicated for use together. This is not a good strategy for addressing anxiety in the long term.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:00 AM on August 23, 2009

Depends on the dosage I think. I tend to combine them when I have to fly. On several trips, no problem. My last seat was in coach, I woke up in business class with a doctor in the seat beside me, and they had a wheelchair and paramedics check me out at the destination airport, and an officer escort to the hotel shuttle. Still don't know what happened despite calling the airport and getting bounced around various departments. So, in other words, yes, but be careful.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:36 AM on August 23, 2009

Not a poster who wholeheartedly endorsed it--one post, I think, with at best halfhearted endorsement I think there is a message here. There are much much better ways to medically manage chronic anxiety. Hope you pursue this as a medical problem that can be effectively managed. Xanax and other benzodiazepines are only rarely, and I mean rarely, used to manage chronic anxiety.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:25 PM on August 23, 2009

I know a couple of people who sort of basically okay a lot of their patients having a drink or two - when those patients don't actually need medication except for peace of mind along with their therapy and are otherwise making progress. Their view is that if you have serious problems that require medication, you should not be fooling around with other mood-altering substances. Whether or not alcohol is contra-indicated is not entirely the point.

You really should talk to your doctor. What is the point of seeing the person and paying for drugs (and adding whatever liver load Xanex might have) if you are not going to take that doctor's advice? If you don't like what the doctor tells you, find another.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:38 AM on August 24, 2009

Do not do this to yourself. You are putting your liver in danger and risking a serotonin dump. A serotonin dump is a dangerous and very unpleasant experience. You should also know that Xanax is extremely addictive. Though it doesn't make you feel "high" it is a powerful drug. I hope your doctor has told you this. You also cannot just stop taking it--that can lead to respiratory failure and possibly seizure.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 8:37 AM on August 24, 2009

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