Methamphetamine (meth) and Xanax are known as the ‘lethal cocktail’ when used in combo, the reason being that while one drug tells the body to increase the heart rate and the blood pressure, the other is doing the complete opposite. It can cause the central nervous system to break down and might result in fatal cardiac arrest. To further explain things in detail, let’s take a look at how meth and Xanax affect the human body:
Effects of Meth and Xanax on the Human Body
Central Nervous System:
Meth users can get highly addicted to it which affects the nucleus acumbes, the prefrontal cortex, and the stratum of the brain. Using meth causes the neurotransmitters to release dopamine and serotonin, which creates a feeling of euphoria. This is the primary reason for meth usage, to get an enhanced mood and feeling of pleasure.
The effects last up to 12 hours and reach their peak in about 2-3 hours after taking meth. Meth usage can affect long-term or even permanent effects on the brain and cause compulsivity problems. These effects sometimes don’t go away even after treatment and codependent mental health disorders like paranoia, hallucinations, or even result in cerebral hemorrhage. Short-term intense and uncomfortable meth usage effects include insomnia, hyperactivity, tremors, and decreased appetite. Whereas, meth addiction and withdrawal symptoms include depression, anxiety, aggression, and intense cravings!
On the other hand, Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication that belongs to the benzodiazepine family. Benzodiazepines are a drug class that works by producing a feeling of calmness in the mind and alleviating manic symptoms. It slows down the movement of the chemicals in the brain that appear to be unbalanced and reduces anxiety and nervous tension. When taking Xanax, it’s important to keep in mind certain drug interactions. For example, a person involved in alcohol misuse should avoid Xanax as it can react badly to cause other substance use disorders.
According to a study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, heart diseases are the second major cause of death in meth users. Meth can raise blood pressure and result in constricted blood vessels and increased heart rate. This causes the muscles of the heart to collapse and often results in a heart attack. It can also cause the cholesterol level of the body to increase which directly affects the heart.
Following overdose and accidents, the leading cause of death in methamphetamine users is cardiovascular disease, because of the significant effects of methamphetamine on vasoconstriction, pulmonary hypertension, atherosclerotic plaque formation, cardiac arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathy.
On the other hand, Xanax is one of the most effective CNS depressants and results in a decreased heart rate. It results in lowered blood pressure and helps in reducing anxiety-induced manic or paranoid behavior. It is often used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases among people that have a regular high blood pressure problem but addiction professionals strongly recommend avoiding long-term use of Xanax as it can lead to Xanax abuse.
Long-term meth abuse can weaken the immune system of the body and increase the risk of infections and conditions like HIV, and hepatitis B and C. A weakened immune system also affects the liver and can cause cirrhosis and other liver diseases. Whereas Xanax is seen to have a similar effect of suppressing the immune system and leading to a greater likelihood of contracting diseases like pneumonia. But according to the drug abuse article published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the immune system suppression caused by Xanax is reversible but meth abuse can lead to permanent effects!
By now we have observed that both drugs have complete drug effects on the human body, and we can conclude that mixing meth and Xanax is definitely not a brilliant idea. Let’s take a look at why people consider mixing Xanax with meth.
Mixing Xanax with Meth: A Dangerous Combination
Both meth and Xanax are used to treat anxiety, while one is illegal, the other is a prescription drug. Meth is used to create the feeling of euphoria and ‘the high’ that imitates the release of feel-good hormones.
“Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system and releases dopamine neurotransmitters to the brain while simultaneously inhibiting their uptake” (An Exploration of the Relationship between the Use of Methamphetamine and Prescription Drugs, Lamonica & Boeri, 2013) and has dramatic effects as compared to other CNS depressants.
Too much meth can cause the heart rate to increase more than necessary and cause unpleasant stimulant effects. On the other hand, Xanax is used to treat manic symptoms and deal with depressive moods. It is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and causes the heart rate to slow down to produce the feeling of being calm. This helps in the treatment of arrhythmia which often results from chronic anxiety. Often people use Xanax to lower the effects of meth and appear less intoxicated.
Now mixing the two opposite reacting substances can cause unpredictable health risks and even prove to be life-threatening. The reaction resulting from mixing two contradictory drugs can put the body under extreme stress and can lead to complicated conditions. But people often do that anyway after taking too much meth and using Xanax to calm down or cancel the effects of meth. This might lead the meth abusers to believe that they are back to normal but in reality, they are still intoxicated and impaired. Performing daily tasks like driving or social behavior while on polydrugs can lead to injuries to the drug abusers or the people around them.
Let’s a more detailed look at the risks of mixing meth and Xanax:
Risks of Polydrug Use
As described above, meth increases the heart rate and blood pressure, and people are often mistaken that they can mix meth with Xanax to create a balance and make them appear less intoxicated. Xanax is one of the effective CNS depressants and prescription medication for manic or panic disorders, and while it may not react with other substances, combined with meth it can cause severe stress on the heart and blood vessels. Here are some of the risks and effects of mixing the two drugs:
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms:
There is a period of “tweaking” that meth users experience. This refers to when the meth ‘high’ wears out and a person has intense cravings that mitigate drug withdrawal symptoms. To avoid this, or to lessen the side effects of the meth comedown, people take Xanax because they believe it ‘cancels’ the manic symptoms caused by the meth withdrawal.
When meth abusers take Xanax to tackle the meth comedown and withdrawal symptoms, it can lead to even more severe withdrawal symptoms. Because meth causes the body to feel abnormally energetic and stimulated while Xanax produces a calming effect. When Xanax is used along with meth, it alleviates abnormal energetic symptoms and the body craves more stimulation. This can lead to serious side effects and confuse the systems inside the body and result in a nervous system breakdown. This happens because taking both drugs together causes a person to be calm and sedated one moment, but energetic the next moment, this causes the body’s systems to tire and eventually give up.
Abnormal Blood Pressure:
As we have already discussed that meth causes high blood pressure while on the other hand, Xanax decreases blood pressure. When a person mixes meth with Xanax, it can result in a sudden increase and drop in blood pressure which puts stress on the heart and might result in a heart attack and other unpredictable health risks.
Polydrug use of illicit drugs and prescription drugs like meth and Xanax can lead to severe mental distress. Because of the opposing nature of meth and Xanax, it can lead to confusion due to the constantly changing state of emotions. A person might feel energetic and manic one moment, and tired, weak, and confused the next moment.
According to the book Encyclopedia of Mental Health, this constant change in emotions due to drug abuse leads to damage to the neurotransmitters of the brain and leads to permanent brain damage. This fluctuation causes a chemical unbalance in the brain and can induce a coma-like state. Such conditions caused by polysubstance abuse are difficult to treat and can be fatal. Substance abuse remains one of the most serious issues afflicting both young and adult individuals in the US and the world.
As we have discussed that polydrug abuse can cause severe mental distress that may result in permanent effects. Another side effect of using meth and Xanax in combination is seizures. Since both substances are completely opposite in functionality and cause constant fluctuation in body conditions, the interruption in the normal connection between the nerve cells in the brain can cause seizures followed by a high fever, low blood sugar, and brain concussion. If a drug intervention is not made in time, it can lead to permanent epilepsy and other related conditions.
According to a randomized study conducted in 2015, polydrug overdose causes the most overdose fatalities. Combining the two drugs causes a life-threatening overdose both tolerance and dependence occur at the same time due to the opposite effects of the drugs and causes the risks of an overdose. It is also accompanied by physical dependence and might lead to light-headedness, excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, or even unconsciousness.
Using Xanax to mitigate withdrawal symptoms of meth over a long period of time can lead to a Xanax addiction. Xanax is a really effective benzodiazepine and benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety disorders if used within a limit. The body can form tolerance against Xanax quickly which requires a person to take more of the drug in order to achieve the desired results. This is why Xanax is extremely addictive and abrupt cessation of Xanax can lead to a person consuming an entire bottle of pills in a day! This can cause extreme drowsiness and loss of balance since it suppresses the central nervous system. It also leads to muscle weakness, and the slowed heart rate can induce a coma.
For more information, read our article on Benzodiazepines addiction treatment options.
We can conclude that people use Xanax to treat mental and physical dependence on meth while they should actually be looking for treatment options. Drug rehabilitation centers like ours provide appropriate substance abuse treatment and mental health services administration. Here are the recommended treatments according to drug addiction treatment professionals:
Treatment for Xanax And Meth Addiction:
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
CBT is one of the most effective behavioral therapies and substance use disorder treatments and has promising results. It focuses on shifting behaviors and stopping unhealthy patterns. When a person does polydrug abuse, they are trying to cope with the stress of withdrawal symptoms of one drug by using another, which is an unhealthy behavioral pattern. According to mental health data from American Psychiatric Association, CBT can help eliminate polydrug abuse by stopping negative impulsive responses and adapting to more healthy alternatives.
The Matrix Model:
The matrix model is a 16-week program that focuses on behavioral treatment and lessens dependence for meth and Xanax abusers. It combines family education with behavioral therapy and counseling that helps people learn ways to cope with withdrawal symptoms without using other drugs. Counseling has proven to be really effective against Meth and Xanax addiction because often time addiction happens due to the lack of awareness about the risks of using a drug excessively and its interactions.
Contingency Management Intervention for Drug Abuse:
This is an addiction treatment program that is based on motivation by reward. It offers beneficial incentives in exchange for cooperation during addiction treatment and maintaining abstinence. It has been proven to be effective for meth abuse and many other substances.
Inpatient treatment is extremely effective for polydrug abuse and we highly recommended it. The reason is that polydrug abuse is a complicated condition. For example, meth and Xanax have opposite functionalities, and being addicted to both can lead to health complications because treating one might worsen the other. Hence constant care and monitoring can help with managing Xanax addiction and withdrawal symptoms of polydrug abuse.
Inpatient rehabs offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment planning, medication management, and withdrawal monitoring which is really important when a person is in the initial stage of drug detox. This intensive part of rehabilitation helps polydrug abusers achieve long-term and permanent results. Although recovery from any drug is a lifelong process due to the chances of relapses, this inpatient treatment helps people last longer without any relapse and completely gets rid of substance use disorders.
Xanax and meth are both highly addictive substances and become lethal when they are taken in combination. Some people even mix alcohol or other illicit drugs with the two drugs for a more intense effect. Mixing Xanax and meth is a major cause of Xanax overdose and other overdose fatalities according to the American Physiactric Association. While it’s understandable that admitting that you have an addiction problem can be difficult due to social pressure or feeling embarrassed in front of friends and family, not getting timely help can cause severe health conditions and lead to permanent damage to the brain. There are many effective treatment options available for polydrug abuse and timely intervention by friends and family can save a person’s life and help them live a normal life. Treatment can last from months to years and promise long-term results but a person should not be scared of relapses. So if you suspect a friend or family member is abusing drugs and has reached a point where treatment is inevitable, convince them to avail themselves of the best treatment options in time and live a healthy and long life free of drugs and complicated health conditions!