Xanax is a brand name for a drug called alprazolam. It is a popular prescription medication that belongs to the benzodiazepine family. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for treating anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and insomnia. They are even prescribed to help control seizures caused by epilepsy.

People often become both physically and physiologically addicted to Xanax. At a high dose, this drug causes sedation and intoxication. When an individual takes any benzodiazepine with alcohol or other drugs, this increases the risk of harming their body and mental health. 

One of the more dangerous side effects of this drug is a Xanax blackout. A person who is blacked out may be unconscious for hours, but appear conscious and take action. In this resource, we will take a look at:

  • What does Xanax do? 
  • What does Xanax feel like?
  • How long does Xanax take to kick in?
  • What happens during a Xanax blackout?

Effects On The Mind And Body

This prescription benzodiazepine works by decreasing abnormal excitement to the brain and increasing a brain chemical called GABA. This chemical promotes calmness and relaxation, which is why Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. An individual who takes this may experience the following effects:

  • anxiety relief
  • insomnia relief
  • easing of muscle tension

If you or someone you know has taken Xanax, they may have noticed how it affects the mind. This benzodiazepine can cause temporary memory loss, feelings of hostility, irritability, and disturbing or vivid dreams. Someone who takes too much Xanax may experience:

  • shallow breathing
  • clammy skin
  • dilated pupils
  • a weak and rapid heartbeat
  • coma or death in cases of overdose

If you are battling substance abuse with Xanax, you may end up experiencing long-term memory loss. A research team in France and Canada conducted a study that linked benzodiazepine use with Alzheimer’s disease. They concluded that people with greater doses and consumption of benzodiazepines are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Xanax blackout

How Long Does Xanax Take To Kick In?

The body absorbs Xanax quickly, in comparison to other benzodiazepines. The effects of this drug should kick in within an hour after taking it. About 1-2 hours later, the blood concentration of Xanax will reach its peak.

How frequently people take Xanax depends on the individual needs of the patient. Dose and administration will vary for anxiety and panic disorders. Treatment for patients with anxiety should be initiated with a dose of 0.25 to 0.5 mg three times a day. Whereas successful treatment for panic disorders usually requires doses higher than 4 mg daily.

This prescription drug leaves the body relatively quick. In healthy adults, the half-life of Xanax is 11.2 hours. This means that the body removes half of this drug from your bloodstream in this amount of time.

What Happens During A Xanax Blackout?

Mixing Xanax and alcohol is never a good idea. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax can lead to blackouts in high doses, especially when combined with alcohol. However, blacking out from the prescription drug by itself is referred to as anterograde amnesia

Experiencing a Xanax blackout can be frightening, not knowing what you have done during the period of intoxication. When a drug abuser continuously takes this drug, memory loss can last days, weeks, and even up to months. Consequences that follow can include: 

  • Accidents (e.g., a car crash or falling downstairs)
  • Legal trouble
  • Sexual assault
  • Drug dependence

The part of the brain that triggers a Xanax blackout is similar to alcohol. Benzodiazepines and alcohol both work on the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. To make things simple, more natural GABA is present to slow down communication between neurons in the brain. When there is slowed communication in high levels, short-term memories do not always make it to long-term storage. Especially when someone has taken a high dose or mixed Xanax with alcohol.

Types Of Blackouts

There are two types of blackouts, one is complete, and the other is partial. These partial or fragmentary blackouts are sometimes referred to as brownouts, and browning out. Meaning, you may have some short-term memories that don’t end up getting stored. You know you’ve experienced a partial black out when you do not recall some memories until something reminds you of them.

Alcohol abuse should not be combined with Xanax, or you will experience a complete blackout. You become too intoxicated for your brain to retain short-term memories into long-term memories. Though after some time, the brain will return to normal memory production.

Xanax blackout

Get Help With Xanax Abuse


Xanax abuse can be risky for the brain just as alcohol abuse, so it is vital to receive addiction treatment. Withdrawal symptoms associated with this drug can be unsafe, so detox should not be attempted alone. At Healthy Life Recovery, our addiction center offers medicated-assisted treatment to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Our medical professionals here in San Diego are dedicated to helping you make a positive change around drugs and alcohol. If you or a loved one is suffering from Xanax abuse, give us a call today.

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