The Dangers of Snorting Xanax

Snorting Xanax may add to the potential for harmful side effects. Read on to learn how it can affect you or your loved ones.

What is Xanax?

Snorting Xanax
Alprazolam, known by its common brand name Xanax, is a medication prescribed to help manage various mental health conditions. It is a fast-acting drug that remains in the body long after the effects of a single dose have worn off. This often leads people to start to take higher and more frequent doses or take the drug in alternative ways to achieve a stronger, more intense high. All of these factors often then lead to a substance abuse disorder for Xanax.1


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What is Xanax Used For?

Prescriptions for Xanax are part of many treatment programs for anxiety, panic, and sleeping disorders. Because of the high potential for addiction, mental health providers generally only prescribe Xanax for short-term use. Despite a significant risk for addiction and other potential side effects, Xanax is one of the most frequently prescribed mental health medications in the United States.2

Xanax is designed for oral use, producing effects within thirty minutes to one hour after ingesting it. However, crushing Xanax and snorting it causes the effects to occur much faster and often in a more intense way. This can lead to people starting to abuse the drug even quicker as well.

What Happens When You Crush and Snort Xanax?

Pills meant for oral use often release medication at a specific rate within the body. This means when the drug is crushed and taken in a manner other than directed, the effects of the drug often occur much faster. For example, the effects of Xanax are typically felt within thirty minutes to one hour after taking it in pill form, but crushing and snorting the medication increases the speed at which the effects are felt.
In addition to sniffing or snorting Xanax to get it to take effect more quickly, other ways that people abuse Xanax are to chew it, smoke it, or mix it into a liquid in order to inject it.3

Dangers of Snorting Xanax

Many believe that snorting Xanax is the most effective method for getting high off the medication. However, an intense Xanax high is not the only danger linked to sniffing this potentially fatal drug. The dangers of misusing Xanax can be divided into short- and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Risks

The short-term dangers of snorting Xanax include dizziness, low blood pressure, difficulties breathing, and drowsiness. When one combines Xanax and alcohol, many of these effects are amplified, increasing the risk of death.4

Long-Term Risks

Long-term misuse of Xanax, such as getting high on Xanax by sniffing or snorting it over a period of weeks, months, or years, can lead to struggles with tolerance and addiction. Once someone has developed a tolerance for Xanax, they need higher and more frequent doses to achieve the high they desire.5
In addition to a higher tolerance, snorting Xanax can also lead to various respiratory challenges, including increased risk of nasal infections and damage, irritation of the nasal cavity, and loss of sense of smell and taste.6

Signs that Someone is Addicted to Xanax

If a friend or loved one is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, you will likely notice changes in their behavior and various other physical signs. Snorting Xanax and taking Xanax orally can also lead to some of the same physical and emotional effects. However, the side effects of snorting Xanax will also include several difficulties related to the respiratory system on top of everything else.

Common Symptoms

Examples of common effects of snorting Xanax may include a runny nose, nasal congestion, and frequent sniffing. Other signs that someone is addicted to Xanax are similar to those of other substance use disorders. Common symptoms include:
  • trying unsuccessfully to reduce or stop using.
  • taking larger than prescribed doses in order to get the same high.
  • trying to find other doctors to prescribe them the drug.
  • fixations on acquiring and using Xanax.
  • experiencing Xanax withdrawal when not using.
These are not all of the symptoms that could point to a substance abuse problem, but they are the most prevalent amongst most users.7

Side Effects and Overdose Signs

Even when used as prescribed, there are many side effects to Xanax use, and several factors impact the severity of its mental and physical effects. Snorting Xanax can lead to disorientation, difficulties with memory, nausea, drowsiness, problems concentrating, headaches, constipation, and poor reaction time.

It is important to remember that many of the side effects of snorting Xanax are the same effects of someone who takes Xanax in other ways. Because Xanax works as a depressant drug, its primary effect on the body is to slow the speed of many processes, including reaction time, respiration, heart rate, and others. This is also why combining Xanax with other depressants such as alcohol can be very dangerous and potentially fatal.8

Signs of An Overdose on Xanax

When taken as prescribed, Xanax is considered safe for most users. However, Xanax misuse by taking more than prescribed or in a manner other than prescribed, such as snorting the medication, can lead to a Xanax overdose. Xanax is a fast-acting drug, but the half-life of Xanax can be quite long. In some studies, Xanax remained detectable in the body for up to sixty-five hours. For this reason, it can be easy to take more than the prescribed dose, which can lead to overdose.

It is crucial to know the signs of a Xanax overdose to ensure help is sought immediately. Signs of Xanax overdose include slowed heart rate, extreme confusion, low body temperature, slowed breathing, physical weakness, low blood pressure, and seizures.9

How to Recover from a Xanax Addiction

Ongoing Xanax addiction can be dangerous, so it is crucial to seek help if you or a loved one need it. Xanax and other benzodiazepines can cause severe and overwhelming withdrawal symptoms during the early stages of detox. Attempting to quit Xanax without weaning off it is often unsuccessful and can also be dangerous. The first step toward overcoming Xanax addiction is to find a medical detox program.

effects of snorting xanax

Medical Detox

During medical detox, a team of highly skilled medical and mental health professionals will guide you through the early and most difficult stages of detox. Depending on the nature of your symptoms, they can provide medications and other supports to ensure detox is safe and successful.

Inpatient and Outpatient Programs

Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are often the next step. Depending on the severity of the addiction, the patient may begin treatment in a residential program before stepping down to outpatient care.

Opportunities for Sobriety at Concise Recovery

Regardless of the level of care, addiction treatment professionals at centers like Concise Recovery use a variety of therapeutic models to help overcome Xanax addiction. These include proven, evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement therapy, and family therapies.10

If you or a loved one struggles with a Xanax addiction, it is vital to seek help. At Concise Recovery, our team of caring and compassionate treatment professionals are here to help you overcome Xanax addiction and achieve lasting recovery. To learn more about our programs, contact a member of our admissions team today.