Xanax, also known by its generic name alprazolam, belongs to a class of medications known as benzodiazepines, which are a common choice for the treatment of anxiety, panic and insomnia, as they tend to be well-tolerated and work quickly. Although typically recommended to be prescribed for short periods, Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications.

While Xanax can help reduce feelings of anxiety and insomnia, it can have side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling unsteady, or experiencing poor balance
  • Difficulty concentrating

A common remedy to feeling tired or having difficulty concentrating may be reaching for some caffeine. While coffee is a common source of caffeine, other sources include black tea, soda or energy drinks. Caffeine is the most commonly consumed drug in the world. Many people taking Xanax may self-medicate using caffeine to address the side effects of their medication.

Although caffeine may be used to improve or alleviate some of the side effects of Xanax, research suggests that mixing Xanax and caffeine generates concerning side effects.

What Happens When You Mix Caffeine and Xanax?

Xanax and other benzodiazepines increase feelings of calm through the brain’s GABA receptor. In contrast, caffeine acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system (CNS). Although caffeine can increase alertness and reduce drowsiness, it can also increase feelings of agitation and anxiety. Xanax (a depressant) and caffeine (a stimulant) have opposing functions on the nervous system. In some people, as little as 100mg of caffeine, approximately a single cup of coffee’s worth, can increase anxiety-related symptoms, causing a Xanax and caffeine high, counter-acting the potential therapeutic benefits of Xanax.

Side Effects of Mixing Caffeine and Xanax

As a result of the interaction, people taking Xanax and also consuming caffeine may experience reduced effectiveness of their medication. These Xanax and caffeine effects can lead to:

  • Continued anxiety or insomnia
  • A return or worsening of symptoms
  • Caffeine-related feelings of anxiety that may be misdiagnosed as an anxiety disorder

A laboratory study of human cells suggests that caffeine combined with alprazolam may be toxic, though more research is needed.

Consuming caffeine to address the side effects of Xanax may worsen symptoms that initially required treatment, and make the medication much less effective. Some people may notice that their symptoms improve as they reduce their caffeine intake. People should talk to their doctor about any concerns they have with their caffeine intake and how it may interact with their prescriptions.

Key Points: Caffeine and Xanax

Xanax, a benzodiazepine, acts as a sedative on the CNS. Xanax is usually prescribed for anxiety or insomnia. Xanax is a fast-acting medication, but side effects can include feeling drowsy, tired and unfocused. Many people may use caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant attempting to counter these side effects, however:

  • Caffeine and Xanax have opposing effects on the central nervous system
  • Caffeine can reduce the therapeutic effect of Xanax
  • Consuming caffeine may cause a Xanax and caffeine high that increases anxiety symptoms and the experience of insomnia, which may make a disorder feel more severe

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Limandri, Barbara J. “Benzodiazepine Use: The Underbelly of the Opioid Epidemic.” Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services. May 1, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.

MedlinePlus. “Alprazolam”. March 25, 2019. Accessed April 10, 2019.

Ogbru, Annette. “Benzodiazepines”.  RxList. Accessed April 10, 2019.

RxList. “Xanax Side Effects Centre”. March 17, 2017. Accessed April 9, 2019.

WebMD. “Caffeine”. 2018. Accessed April 9, 2019.

Cooper, M., et al. “Caffeine consumption among adults on benzodiazepine therapy: United States 1988-1994.” Psychol Rep, August 2004. Accessed April 9, 2019.

Saha, B., et al. “Caffeine augments Alprazolam induced cytotoxicity in human cell lines.” Toxicol In Vitro, September 2009.  Accessed April 10, 2019.

Kassm, Noreen. “Is Xanax Mixed With Caffeine Safe?” Livestrong. Accessed April 18, 2019. 

Xanax and Caffeine
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