Cocaine and Xanax: A Dangerous Combination

Cocaine and Xanax are two common drugs of abuse that can be even more dangerous when used in combination with one another. Despite this fact, the practice of combining “uppers” such as cocaine with “downers” such as Xanax is not unusual among people with substance use disorders.

The purpose of this article is to describe the health risks linked to using cocaine and Xanax to counteract the other’s adverse side effects.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant derived from the coca leaf that belongs to a plant native to South America.

Cocaine is available in both powdered or freebase (crack) varieties and often combined with cheaper, easily accessible substances such as flour and talcum powder to maximize profits. It can also be mixed with other deadly, unpredictable drugs such as opioids (e.g., fentanyl) or amphetamines, which compound its addictive potential and significantly increases the risk of overdose.

Side Effects of Cocaine Use

Artificially elevated dopamine levels induce the brief but intense high associated with cocaine use in the brain. The feeling of euphoria this surge of dopamine produces is initially regarded as highly desirable and manipulates the brain’s reward center. This effect, however, comes with the cost of incidentally rewiring brain chemistry and triggering a series of permanent changes.

The following side effects commonly accompany cocaine use:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Drug cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound
  • Excessive energy/mania

What Is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a fast-acting benzodiazepine (benzo) that is an anti-anxiety and anticonvulsant medication commonly indicated to treat seizures, insomnia and panic attacks. The drug is a highly addictive sedative, however, and is associated with a range of adverse physiological and psychological effects.

For this reason, Xanax is usually prescribed for short-term use only, with approved treatment lasting less than six weeks in most cases. Recreationally abused and common on the black market, Xanax is considered a premium drug of choice by people who suffer from severe anxiety and is particularly popular among college students.

Side Effects of Xanax Use

Although Xanax is initially effective in reducing anxiety and producing a powerful sedative effect, excessive or prolonged Xanax use alters brain chemistry. Xanax is able to quell nervousness and anxiety by boosting the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, a brain chemical that decreases the activity of nerve impulses that lead to emotionally charged states.

Side effects of Xanax use may include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurry vision
  • Increased sweating
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability

Benzos can also lower inhibitions and produce dangerous impulsivity in excessive users. This effect can lead to reckless driving, aggressive or violent altercations with strangers or loved ones, unsafe sexual activities, depression, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Cumulative Side Effects of Mixing Cocaine and Xanax

Combining a powerful stimulant with a potent sedative is not wise, and is irresponsible with regard to one’s health. In addition to perpetuating a greater inclination toward polysubstance abuse, mixing cocaine with Xanax can also induce compounded effects, accelerating and intensifying brain damage.

Once neurochemistry in the brain has been altered due to frequent or chronic abuse, severe and debilitating social, medical, and professional consequences are likely to follow. Long-term users may find themselves escalating the use of one or both drugs until it is too late to return to healthy, autonomous functioning.

Normal brain function is predicated upon striking a balance between major neurotransmitters in connection with the central nervous system. The brain requires efficiently operating neural pathways and a consistent, regular stock of nutrient-supplied energy to function. Inevitably, long-term cocaine and Xanax use exhausts both, interrupting the entire neurochemical system in the process.

The manipulation of dopamine levels and GABA are just two of many features that characterize cocaine and Xanax abuse. Brain structures such as the prefrontal cortex may also be damaged as a result, and many former users fail to recover fully and regain their previous mental functioning capacities.

Although other regions of the brain may be negatively affected, this injury to the prefrontal cortex is especially damaging because it controls rational thinking and impulse control, a cognitive capacity known as executive functioning. Users then experience a diminished quality of life due to their inability to make informed, mature decisions or behave responsibly.

Treatment for Cocaine and Xanax Abuse

The consequences of cocaine and Xanax abuse can be severe and long-lasting, and delaying treatment is never advised. Recovery in Tune offers comprehensive outpatient programs that include therapeutic approaches to addiction treatment, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. Our caring medical staff specialize in addiction and provide clients with the tools and support they so direly need to achieve abstinence and sustain long-term sobriety and wellness.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or an addiction to cocaine and Xanax, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options and find out how we can facilitate your recovery!

Related: Adderall and Alcohol Use: What are the Risks?

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