Grapefruit Juice And Xanax: The Dangers Of Potentiating Alprazolam

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on April 23, 2020

Mixing grapefruit juice and Xanax (potentiating Xanax) can have harmful to dangerous consequences. Treatment for Xanax abuse can help a person avoid these side effects and manage substance abuse and addictive behaviors in order to enter recovery.

Dangers Of Mixing Grapefruit Juice And Xanax

Xanax, which is the brand name for alprazolam, is a type of sedative called a benzodiazepine. This drug has habit-forming qualities, so doctors prescribe it for short-term use only.

Unfortunately, abuse is common.

Forms of Xanax abuse include mixing it with other drugs and even grapefruit juice. These combinations can increase the risk of serious side effects.

Mixing Xanax And Grapefruit Juice

Surprisingly, grapefruit juice is actually capable of causing negative drug interactions.

Xanax is one drug that should never be taken with grapefruit juice because the juice contains a chemical that can affect the liver enzymes that metabolize Xanax.

These chemicals are called furanocoumarins, and they stop the action of an enzyme called CYP3A4. When this enzyme doesn’t work, the amount of Xanax in the system can build up to dangerous levels.

As a result, taking grapefruit juice and Xanax together can lead to an overdose even if the person takes what they believe is a normal dose.

Side Effects Of Mixing Xanax And Grapefruit Juice

Due to the way grapefruit juice interferes with the breakdown of Xanax in the body, a person may experience multiple effects when mixing the substances.

The side effects of mixing grapefruit juice and Xanax include:

  • drowsiness
  • clumsiness
  • dizziness
  • problems speaking and breathing
  • difficulty concentrating
  • hypersalivation

This combination may even bring on symptoms that Xanax is supposed to ease, such as anxiety, restlessness, and suicidal ideation. These are called paradoxical effects.

The real dangers of mixing grapefruit juice and Xanax come when the person tries to operate heavy machinery like a car.

Dangers Of Alprazolam Potentiation

The dangers of potentiating alprazolam increase when Xanax is taken with another substance that enhances its effects or enhances the effects of both substances.

This can be seen when the person takes Xanax with alcohol or an opioid. This can easily lead to an overdose as both drugs work to decrease the patient’s breathing, heart rate, and other CNS actions.

A person who engages in polysubstance abuse with Xanax and chooses to consume grapefruit juice could easily overdose.

Xanax Abuse And Other Drug Interactions

Xanax and other substances or even bodily systems can interact in other ways. Three of these are antagonism, synergism, and metabolic interactions.

Antagonism

Antagonism happens when two drugs are taken together and one reduces the effect of the other. Sometimes, the effects of both are reduced.

This can happen when Xanax, a sedative, is taken with a stimulant such as cocaine.

The effects of both drugs are weakened, which may encourage the person to use more despite the fact that there are already high levels in their blood.

Synergism

Synergism happens when an effect, beneficial or otherwise, happens when two drugs are used together. The effects would not happen if the drugs were used on their own.

Some scientists believe that alcohol and Xanax work synergistically together as well as potentiate each other.

The effect of the two drugs taken together is to increase the sedation of Xanax and increase the intoxication brought by alcohol.

Metabolism Interactions

Metabolic interactions occur when bodily systems either slow down or speed up how fast Xanax is eliminated from the body.

For example, patients with kidney or liver disease might not be given Xanax or may be given Xanax at lower than normal dosages.

This is because damaged renal and liver systems have trouble processing Xanax, which is broken down by the liver and whose metabolites are excreted by the kidneys.

Even obesity can affect how Xanax reacts in a person’s body, as a higher body fat percentage decreases the speed at which drugs are metabolized.

Xanax Frequently Asked Questions

To learn more about the prescription drug Xanax, review the frequently asked questions listed below.

Like other benzodiazepines, Xanax was developed to replace barbiturates, which are extremely addictive. It produces a sense of calm that makes it helpful for treating anxiety, insomnia, and panic disorders.

When someone develops a dependency, they need to keep taking the drug to feel normal and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Over time, they may feel the need to increase their dosage to preserve the effects.

This pattern of dependency and abuse can lead someone to go to several doctors to get multiple Xanax prescriptions. This drug seeking behavior is dangerous, but buying Xanax on the street is even more risky.

Fake Xanax is common and the street, and even drugs that do contain Xanax are often cut with other drugs such as the opioid fentanyl.

Xanax binds to the neurotransmitters known as gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. These GABA receptors have an inhibitory function, which causes the central nervous system to calm down.

Xanax is taken in tablets that can come in four dosages, and each tablet has a different color to tell them apart.

The effects are felt after about an hour. Xanax stays in the body for about 12 to 15 hours and takes two weeks to achieve a level where the patient notices improvement in their disorder.

Like most drugs, Xanax can have side effects even when taken properly. While not all side effects are common, it’s important to be aware of them, so you can discuss them with your doctor.

The side effects of Xanax include:

  • ataxia, which is a loss of full bodily control
  • constipation
  • difficult urination
  • fatigue
  • memory loss
  • rash
  • weight gain
  • weight loss
  • mental confusion
  • increased hunger
  • decreased hunger
  • blurred vision
  • difficulty speaking
  • insomnia
  • decreased libido

Some of these side effects go away after time, and others can be prevented. A person should consult their doctor if Xanax side effects persist.

Xanax is not usually fatal on its own but combining it with alcohol, opioids or other benzodiazepines can increase the effects, causing severe depression of the central nervous system (CNS).

If the central nervous system is slowed significantly, it can cause vital functions to slow down and eventually cease, including the person’s breathing and heartbeat.

In some cases, people may mix grapefruit juice and Xanax in order to shorten the time to the onset of effects or because they believe it will increase the desired effects of the drug.

Mixing alprazolam and grapefruit juice can have dangerous consequences, from mild to severe side effects that could require hospitalization.

Treatment For Xanax Abuse And Addiction

To learn more about Xanax detox programs and addiction treatment programs, contact one of our treatment specialists today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on April 23, 2020
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