Xanax is the brand name of the drug alprazolam, a benzodiazepine medication often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders, and agoraphobia.
As a central nervous system depressant, Xanax slows down the nervous system, producing a calm, relaxed feeling. Although it is a prescription drug, there is the potential for abuse; however, this is often overlooked.
In this blog, we look at the dangers of snorting, smoking, and injecting Xanax.
What Is Xanax?
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists Xanax as one of the top prescription drugs being taken from the legal drug market and sold on the streets in the illicit drug trade. There are a variety of ways that people abuse the drug, with adults and adolescents alike crushing the pill form before injecting, smoking, or snorting Xanax to produce a high.
Xanax, like all benzodiazepine drugs, increases the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that lowers nerve impulses throughout the body, providing effects like sedation and relaxation.
In addition to the above, side effects of Xanax include:
- Increased saliva production
- Change in sex drive
Xanax can cause mood changes in severe but rare cases and induce visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. Sadly, abusing Xanax increases the risk of these side effects.
Abusing Xanax can also result in drug dependence and, if taken for an extended period, it becomes highly addictive, so it is often only prescribed as a short-term treatment. Those who consume Xanax quickly build a tolerance to the effects of the drug, which is one reason it is misused.
Xanax Abuse and Xanax Addiction
Benzodiazepine drugs or benzos as they are commonly known are steadily increasing in popularity, as is the number of people seeking treatment for benzodiazepine abuse. Xanax is the most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States, meaning it is incredibly easy for most people to access it. In fact, it is thought that 70% of teenagers with a Xanax addiction acquire the drug from the medicine cabinet in their house.
Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that the number of Americans over the age of 12 seeking help for substance abuse has been steadily increasing as prescription drug abuse is generally increasing across the country.
While prescription medications like Xanax play an important role in legitimate medical treatment, many health professionals warn that the next drug epidemic may not focus on opioids such as heroin but instead on prescription medications like benzodiazepines.
Xanax or alprazolam abuse arises when the drug is taken more often, for too long, or at a higher dose than prescribed. Consuming Xanax in any way other than swallowing the pill as instructed by a healthcare professional also constitutes Xanax abuse.
As touched on above, people may abuse Xanax by snorting, smoking, or injecting it, all of which are extremely dangerous and increase the risk of addiction.
Many believe that crushing Xanax pills and snorting them results in a faster, more intense high. There has only been limited scientific research into whether snorting Xanax actually does create stronger or faster effects, and none of the results have been conclusive.
However, snorting Xanax can cause damage to the nasal cavity and sinus tissue over time, resulting in a chronic runny or bloody nose as well as sinus infections.
Smoking Xanax is more common when it is mixed with other drugs. For example, Xanax powder is sometimes added to pipes or bowls of weed for an additional feeling of relaxation. However, it is unlikely that the effect of Xanax is more intense when it is smoked.
Heating Xanax can change the way that it works in potentially dangerous ways that have not yet been studied. The dangers of smoking Xanax include:
- Mouth burns
- Respiratory issues
- Certain cancers
- Damage to the lungs
Shooting Xanax comes with the highest risk of overdose. Generally, people inject a drug to reduce the time it takes the digestive system to process it.
Shooting Xanax with a needle places the drug directly into the bloodstream, where it reaches the brain much faster. Xanax medicine is designed to be metabolized by the liver first, so injecting Xanax puts a significantly higher concentration of the drug directly into the bloodstream, leading to overdose or respiratory issues.
There is an increased risk of a medical emergency if Xanax is combined with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines.
Another risk of Xanax overdose comes when fake Xanax is acquired on the street instead of via a medical prescription. These pills may combine Xanax with other dangerous substances such as fentanyl, which can cause an overdose.
Certain risk factors are associated with Xanax addiction. People who have been using or misusing Xanax for a long time and happen to have one of the following conditions are thought to be at higher risk of developing an addiction to Xanax:
- History of substance use problems
- Chronic pain
- Anxiety disorders
When a person becomes dependent on Xanax to function physically and mentally, stopping taking the drug abruptly or going cold turkey could cause severe side effects.
If you think that you or someone you know has an addiction or dependence on Xanax, seek help from a medical professional before attempting to begin the withdrawal process or reduce Xanax consumption.
Detoxing from benzos such as Xanax without medical supervision and support can increase the risk of potentially lethal complications such as seizures. Supervised medical detoxification is necessary if you or someone you know is ready to stop abusing Xanax.
When medical detox takes place, it is common to experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms. These can arise regardless of whether a person is smoking Xanax or snorts Xanax.
Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle pain
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Panic attacks
When professional treatment is sought, you or a loved one will gradually taper off of Xanax with the support of a medical professional. Temporary medications, such as a longer-acting benzodiazepine that provides the same effects as Xanax, may be prescribed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. This process can take up to six weeks.
Usually, those who have developed a physical dependence on Xanax experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms, which can begin just hours after the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms generally peak in severity within one to four days.
Xanax Addiction Treatment
After detox is complete, the treatment process can begin. The type of long-term treatment you or a loved one receives depends on the nature of why you or they started using the drug.
Treatment for Xanax abuse should address the underlying reasons that the drug abuse or addiction began. During treatment, treatment centers, such as our, provide the opportunity to address underlying conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
If any co-occurring disorders, such as generalized anxiety, depression, or panic disorder, contribute to Xanax abuse, treatment will often include therapy and complementary techniques, like meditation and mindfulness.
However, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common therapy used in Xanax addiction recovery. CBT involves working with a therapist to develop healthy coping strategies.
Contact Us Today
At NP Addiction Clinic, we provide psychotherapeutic treatment programs with the compassion and respect each client deserves. Our individualized programs draw on various evidence-based treatment options to build a personalized recovery plan to suit each person’s needs.
Our specialized facilities offer a comfortable environment where you can focus on your recovery. If you require support detoxing from Xanax or seeking addiction treatment, call us today. If you are worried about a loved one, contact us for help and guidance.