What Happens When Xanax and Cannabis Mix?
The effects of mixing Xanax and cannabis aren’t well-documented, but in low doses, this combo usually isn’t harmful.
That said, everyone reacts differently, and the effects of substances become increasingly unpredictable when you mix them.
If you’ve already mixed the two, don’t panic. Unless you’ve taken a lot of Xanax, it’s not usually a life threatening combo. It can, however, cause some unpleasant side effects.
Healthline does not endorse the misuse of prescription medication. However, we believe in providing accessible and accurate information to reduce the harm that can occur from misuse.
There hasn’t been a lot of research on Xanax and weed together, so not much is known about how they interact.
We do know, however, that both are central nervous system depressants, which means they slow the messages between your brain and body.
When used individually in low doses, Xanax and weed can lower anxiety and make you feel relaxed and euphoric. In higher doses, they can worsen anxiety and cause paranoia, sedation, rapid heart rate, and irritability.
Keep in mind that what’s considered a low dose for one person might be a high dose for another, depending on their tolerance.
Combining the two may reduce the effects of each drug and make it easier to overdose on Xanax.
Possible side effects of mixing the two include:
- trouble concentrating
- slurred speech
- slowed motor coordination
- impaired judgement
If you’re going to mix Xanax and cannabis, you’ll want to avoid alcohol altogether.
Booze and benzodiazepines, like Xanax, enhance each other’s effects, including the less-than-desirable ones such as severe drowsiness and sedation. There’s also a higher risk of serious effects, mainly respiratory depression.
Experts still don’t know exactly how it happens, though one animal study showed that ethanol, the main ingredient in alcoholic drinks, appears to increase the maximum concentration of alprazolam (Xanax) in the bloodstream.
Various studies have also shown that alcohol can intensify the effects of cannabis and increase your chances of greening out or overdoing it.
Xanax is known to interact with several other drugs, including some over-the-counter (OTC) meds.
These include certain:
When you take Xanax with these drugs, they interfere with the elimination of Xanax from your body. This may cause a toxic buildup of Xanax in your system.
Avoid using Xanax with any other sedatives.
If you’re using cannabis and Xanax to manage anxiety symptoms, keep in mind that this combo can sometimes backfire.
While there’s evidence that cannabis may decrease anxiety in low doses in some people, high-THC strains can actually increase anxiety.
If you’re dealing with anxiety, your best bet is to reach out to a healthcare provider who can recommend proven anxiety treatments.
It’s best to avoid mixing Xanax with any substance that can cause drowsiness, including cannabis.
Your chances of using too much of both are higher when you mix, which could lead to a bad reaction or Xanax overdose.
If you’re going to mix them or already have, there are some things you can do to make things a bit safer:
- Stick to the lowest dose of each. Your risk of serious effects increases significantly with higher doses. Keep your Xanax dose low and stick to low-THC weed strains to reduce your risk of side effects or overdose.
- Don’t lie down. Benzos, especially when mixed with other depressants, have a severe sedating effect and can also cause nausea and vomiting. Try to remain seated when taking this combo to lower your risk of choking if you do happen to throw up.
- Choose a safe setting. This combo can make it hard for you to move around or stay awake, potentially leaving you vulnerable.
- Don’t do it alone. Have someone with you in case negative effects occur. It should be someone you trust who knows how to spot the signs of trouble and get you help if needed.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after can help prevent dry mouth and dehydration. It can also help prevent some symptoms of a cannabis hangover.
- Don’t do it often. Xanax and cannabis both have dependency and addiction potential, especially when used often. Both can also cause withdrawal. Limit your use of both to reduce your risk.
- Don’t throw any other substances into the mix. The more substances you combine, the more unpredictable the effects. Most fatal overdoses result from mixing drugs with other substances, including alcohol.
Call 911 right away if you or someone else experiences any of these symptoms after mixing Xanax and weed:
- blurred vision
- slurred speech
- irregular heart rate
- shortness of breath
- slowed breathing
- loss of consciousness
If you’re caring for someone else, have them lay on their side while you wait for help to arrive. This position will help keep their airway open in case they vomit.
Xanax shouldn’t be mixed with other substances, especially other central nervous system depressants, because of the risk of blacking out and dangerously slowed breathing.
In small doses, Xanax and cannabis don’t make for a life threatening combo, but things can quickly take a turn.
Both also have a high risk of misuse and could lead to dependence or addiction.
If you’re worried about your substance use, here are some options for getting confidential help:
- Talk to your primary healthcare provider. Be honest about your drug use. Patient confidentiality laws prevent them from reporting this information to law enforcement.
- Call SAMHSA’s national helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357), or use their online treatment locater.
- Find a support group through the Support Group Project.