Xanax is the brand name of the drug alprazolam, one of many benzodiazepine prescription drugs used to treat mood disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed frequently by physicians. However, if they are taken against the specific guidelines of a healthcare professional, benzos like Xanax can be potentially dangerous. Although Xanax is a prescription drug, it has a high potential for abuse.
In this blog, we look at the dangers of snorting, smoking, and injecting Xanax.
Like all benzodiazepine drugs, Xanax increases the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – a neurotransmitter that lowers nerve impulses throughout the body – in the brain. As a central nervous system depressant, Xanax slows down the nervous system, offering users a calm, relaxed feeling while providing effects such as sedation and relaxation.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists Xanax as one of the most popular types of prescription medications taken from the legal drug market and sold illicitly. Those who abuse the drug do so in many different ways, such as crushing a pill before injecting, smoking, or snorting Xanax to produce a high.
There have been anecdotal reports of people smoking Xanax in recent years. However, smoking Xanax is never recommended.
Some people smoke Xanax by crushing Xanax pills before mixing the powder with tobacco or marijuana. This is extremely dangerous as Xanax should not be taken with any other substances.
Others have reported putting the powder on top of foil, similar to how individuals smoke heroin or fentanyl.
Smoking Xanax is not safe as doing so can lead to dangerous and even life-threatening side effects. In particular, Xanax shouldn’t be smoked with other substances, especially other central nervous system depressants like cannabis, due to the increased risk of side effects such as slowed breathing. Meanwhile, heating Xanax could potentially change how it works and its effects.
The health risks of smoking Xanax can include:
Smoking Xanax also contributes to the risk of overdose, especially if the quantity used exceeds the dose prescribed by a medical professional.
Among those who abuse Xanax, snorting the drug is a common ingestion method. When people snort Xanax, the pill is crushed to create a powder.
Although the effects of Xanax generally begin within 20 to 30 minutes, snorting the drug brings on a host of immediate side effects. This is because snorting Xanax causes it to become rapidly absorbed through the mucous membranes in the nasal passages and into the bloodstream and brain.
As it avoids the digestive system, the effects of the substance occur much faster in the central nervous system. However, a study on the effect of diazepam (another benzodiazepine) on animals showed nasal administration, or snorting the drug, did not help the benzodiazepine reach the brain any faster. The results still remain unclear surrounding how snorting Xanax changes the time it takes to experience effects.
Some studies have shown that snorting Xanax is linked with higher addiction and drug abuse rates. This particular method of ingestion is also associated with higher overdose rates as it is easier to misjudge how much of the drug has been taken.
Medical professionals have also expressed their concerns as snorting Xanax generates a suddenly increased depression of the central nervous system. This is particularly dangerous as it depresses heart rate and breathing. Often, a Xanax overdose can slow the breathing rate to a point at which a lack of oxygen is received by the brain, which risks permanent brain damage and even death.
In addition to smoking and snorting Xanax, individuals who abuse it may inject Xanax by crushing up pills and dissolving them into a solution before injecting it with a needle. This is also referred to as ‘shooting up’ or intravenous (IV) Xanax use.
Those who inject Xanax often do so to experience a faster, more intense, euphoric high. However, injecting Xanax increases the abuse potential compared to taking the drug orally.
IV drug use of any kind comes with the added risk of contracting bloodborne illnesses and diseases like HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C. Repeated use of needles at the same injection site can also cause infection and collapsed veins.
The best way to avoid overdosing on Xanax is to ingest it precisely as prescribed by a doctor. This is because a prescription is offered based on factors such as:
By reviewing the above factors, medical professionals can determine a suitable dose of Xanax for each client.
Without medical advice, drug abuse can quickly arise. In fact, drug abuse is classified as when a person decides to take a drug without the instructions of a medical professional. People who abuse Xanax generally determine what dose is best for them based on the feeling they wish to experience instead of what the doctor prescribes.
Regardless of whether Xanax is prescribed or taken illicitly, the effects of the drug can decrease in as little as two weeks of regular use. A significant risk associated with the development of increased tolerance to Xanax is that individuals may feel compelled to increase their dose without consulting a doctor.
It is important to note that tolerance is not the same as physical dependence, but increased tolerance can lead to dependence and addiction if not addressed by a medical professional.
A Xanax overdose can include the following symptoms:
A Xanax overdose is a medical emergency and must be dealt with as soon as overdose symptoms occur.
Any form of Xanax abuse can lead to physical dependence and addiction, including oral alprazolam consumption. When an individual has become dependent on Xanax, stopping taking the drug abruptly or going cold turkey could cause severe side effects.
With this in mind, anyone who has become dependent on Xanax should seek help from a medical professional before beginning the withdrawal process. Under medical supervision, clients gradually taper off Xanax safely.
Those in recovery may be temporarily prescribed other medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, such as longer-acting benzodiazepines. This process of tapering off the drug can take up to six weeks.
After detox is complete, the treatment process can begin. At our rehab center, we specialize in treating dual-diagnosis disorders. All of our treatments are carried out by skilled members of staff who have experience in mental health symptoms and medication management. We match each client with a counselor who best suits their needs and employ peer recovery support specialists, substance use counselors, and mental health professionals with expertise in trauma and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
At Empowered Recovery, we offer holistic addiction treatment programs to support clients in quitting Xanax and addressing underlying reasons that may have caused them to abuse the drug.
If you struggle with Xanax addiction, contact us today to speak to one of our compassionate experts. In doing so, you can take the first steps in your recovery journey.
Contact our team to find out how we can help you