It is usually safe to mix Xanax and Tylenol when both are used as directed, and no other medications are currently being taken (e.g., opioids or other depressants) that might interfere with these substances. Moreover, the daily intake of acetaminophen should be no more than 3,000 mg. The recommended maximum daily dose of Xanax is 4 mg taken in divided doses.
Many people hold the erroneous belief that OTC (over-the-counter) medications are inherently safe. While many OTC drugs are, indeed, considered generally safe, consumers should always be aware of potential risks and side effects. This is especially true when a person is also taking prescription drugs, as some OTC products can adversely interact with these other medications.
Among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. is Xanax (alprazolam). Xanax is a benzo (benzodiazepine) in a class of drugs prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorder, seizures, and insomnia. While Xanax is very effective at its job, it also has a high potential for addiction due to the feeling of well-being it elicits. An overdose is not typically life-threatening when Xanax is used independently. Still, when used in combination with other CNS (central nervous system) depressants, an overdose can result in severe respiratory depression, coma, and death.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is an extremely popular pain-relieving OTC medication. It may be effective when used as directed, but an overdose of this drug can cause acute liver failure, and without a transplant, will likely prove lethal.
Before using Xanax with acetaminophen-based products, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure none of the ingredients are CNS (central nervous system) depressants. Mixing depressants with Xanax can be extremely dangerous and is more likely to result in a potentially life-threatening overdose.
Interactions with Other Acetaminophen-Containing Products
While Xanax and Tylenol may be relatively safe to use in conjunction, Xanax can interact adversely with other medications that contain acetaminophen. For example, if someone were to combine Xanax with an opioid, such as Tylenol 3 and 4, which also contains the opioid codeine, this can be very dangerous. This effect is not so much due to acetaminophen in the product. Rather, it is codeine, a potent painkiller and CNS depressant.
In fact, for this reason, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has a black box warning on both opioids and benzodiazepine products. Mixing benzos and opioids can dramatically increase the risk of respiratory depression and fatal overdose.
Also, some acetaminophen-containing drugs, such as Nyquil, contain depressants. Combining other CNS depressants with Xanax is risky because this can result in oversedation. If you are concerned about using acetaminophen-containing products with Xanax, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Tylenol 3/4 With Codeine
Codeine is a widely prescribed opioid. WHO (World Health Organization) lists codeine as an essential medication to keep on hand at a hospital. Codeine is commonly sold under the brand names Tylenol-Codeine 3 and Tylenol-Codeine 4.
As an opioid, codeine also comes with the risk of dependence. Like how a benzo interacts with the human brain, opioids attach to opioid receptors to inhibit or slow the sending and receiving of signals sent by neurochemicals that reduce feelings of pain, stress, anxiety, etc. This effect is what individuals who abuse the drug for non-medical purposes are typically seeking.
It is a myth that codeine is safe to use under any circumstance. Although it is not among the most powerful opioids, it still carries similar risks as other prescription and illicit opioids, such as the development of tolerance and dependence. While its effects may not be as intense as say, heroin or oxycodone, it is still possible to overdose on codeine, especially when using it in doses above those prescribed or combining it with another drug.
Side Effects Of Mixing Xanax And Codeine
Both Xanax and codeine are CNS depressants, affecting many essential bodily functions, including heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. Depressants are also commonly referred to as “downers” vs. stimulants, which are known as “uppers.”
Side effects of abusing Xanax and codeine can include the following:
- Slurred speech
- Impaired cognition and memory
- Impaired coordination
- Poor decision-making
- Sleep disturbances
- Slowed or labored breathing
- Slowed heart rate
- Changes in blood pressure
- Mood swings
When a person combines more than one CNS depressant, each substance amplifies the effects of the other. Using two drugs like Xanax and codeine can result in the CNS’ depressant effects to increase exponentially. This increase can quickly lead to an unintentional overdose. It can be challenging for individuals under the drugs’ influence to perceive the changes occurring related to vital brain and body functions and nervous system.
Accidental Overdose From Combining Xanax and Tylenol 3/4
A person can rapidly build a tolerance to the effects of either codeine or Xanax. Tolerance is a condition in which the individual will require ever-increasing doses of a substance to achieve its sought-after effects. Tolerance can occur even when a drug is used as prescribed, which is why doctors may occasionally alter a patient’s dose.
When tolerance occurs, the person using the drug may believe that it is no longer working. Unfortunately, this is a myth because although a person may not feel the drug’s desired effects, it does not mean it doesn’t have other effects on the body, such as slowing respiration and heart rate.
The building of tolerance often prompts individuals to take more of the drug as they believe the first dose was ineffective. However, regarding CNS depressants, this behavior can be very dangerous as the substances continue to depress the CNS.
In addition to the aforementioned effects, this can also affect reaction times, pain tolerance, memory, and the ability to enact informed decisions. Additionally, the more relaxed or lethargic an individual becomes, the less likely they will notice the dangerous changes occurring within their body. Death can occur quickly and quietly under these circumstances.
Unintentional overdoses related to depressant drugs are relatively common, especially with opioids such as codeine. While life-saving drugs are available, such as Narcan, that can reverse an opioid overdose’s effects, they must be administered promptly to be effective.
And unfortunately, drugs such as codeine and Xanax are habit-forming. They can lead to dependence and addiction, and the risk of overdose is often insufficient to pull an individual out of the throes of drug abuse and addiction.
Getting Treatment for Addiction
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction or a co-occurring mental health disorder, Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers can help! We customize our comprehensive, evidence-based treatment programs to fit every patient’s needs, ensuring that their addiction and underlying conditions are addressed safely and in a supportive environment.
Our programs provide a wide variety of therapeutic modalities and activities facilitated by caring, highly-skilled health and addiction professionals. Services we offer include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Peer group support
- Individual and family counseling
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Life skills training
- Relapse prevention
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni programs