Xanax Overdose Symptoms

Xanax, also known by its generic name Alprazolam, remains the most widely prescribed benzodiazepine in the US. Initially, this sedative and anti-anxiolytic drug was developed as a safer alternative to other medications used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, such as barbiturates and meprobamate.

Xanax Abuse

As a general guideline, the parameters for what constitutes Xanax abuse follow the behaviors associated with addictions to all prescription drugs. In short, this means taking this sedative in ways that do not follow the directions set out by a healthcare provider, including:

  • Mixing Xanax with other psychoactive substances such as alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants
  • Taking a higher dose or taking it more often than prescribed by your doctor
  • Taking Xanax without a doctor’s prescription

While taking Xanax without a prescription or above a prescribed dose is never safe (around 50% of emergency room visits related to Xanax are not cases of polydrug use), the risks associated with Xanax use and abuse rapidly increase when it is combined with other CNS depressants.

Mixing Xanax on purpose or by accident with substances, including alcohol and opioid drugs, can quickly result in severe symptoms and respiratory depression.

Xanax Overdose

According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), over 17.5 million notes were filled for Xanax in 2019. While the benzodiazepine drug class was originally believed to have a low potential for abuse, dependence, and fatal overdose, the medical record of past decades tells a different story.

Unfortunately, benzodiazepine overdose has been rising for years, with fatal overdoses continuing to peak into 2020. At the same time, Xanax itself is particularly toxic compared to other drugs in the same class of sedatives.

Xanax Overdose Symptoms

The intensity of the symptoms of Xanax overdose range from mild to severe to fatal. However, overdose is unpredictable, even in cases of mild poisoning. For this reason, medical help should be called on to ensure that anyone who may have overdosed on Xanax does not suffer long-term side effects. Medical support will also ensure that treatment can be sought in a professional context.

In terms of timeline, this potent benzo has a particularly rapid onset for its class of medication. Xanax begins to take effect within one hour of ingestion and usually peaks in bloodstream concentration within two hours. If you suspect that you or someone you know who either uses or abuses Xanax may be experiencing an overdose, it is time to act fast.

Watch for the Signs

Inform yourself and keep an eye out for the warning signs of overdose, symptoms of which include:

  • Uncontrollable muscle movement
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurry vision
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Impaired coordination, reflexes, and reaction times
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Seizures

In severe overdose cases, Xanax can cause an individual to stop breathing, leading to coma and death.

What To Do if Someone Has Taken Too Much Xanax

Due to being a medical emergency, if you or someone you know has taken too much Xanax, you need to act as quickly as possible. Guidelines to remember include:

  • Call 911 for immediate medical attention
  • Ease breathing
  • Remain awake or keep them awake
  • Use emergency breathing if they lose consciousness and their breathing slows

It is also important to loosen anything that may restrict or obstruct breathing, particularly items such as ties, tight jewelry, or collar buttons. If the person you are attending to is beginning to lose consciousness or seems to be nodding off, try to keep them as focused and alert as possible while you wait for emergency services to arrive. Call their name, use physical touch, and eye contact to keep them as awake as possible.

Medical Treatment for Xanax Overdose

Benzodiazepine overdose is treatable with gastric lavage, also known as stomach pumping. Intravenous fluids can be introduced to the cardiovascular system to aid the body in diluting its total benzo concentration to less toxic levels as a part of this procedure. In cases where there is no respiratory depression, activated charcoal, a detoxifying agent, may be used to speed the process of resolving the overdose.

In the most extreme cases, the medical personnel attending may apply a sublingual or intravenous injection of a medication called Flumanezil. Flumazenil is a competitive benzodiazepine receptor antagonist, meaning that it binds to the nervous system docking points that process Xanax and reduces the intensity of the effects in the brain, alleviating sedation and respiratory depression.

That said, Flumanezil comes with its own risks and side effects and should never be counted on as a plan A course of action. Taking defensive measures, seeking treatment for benzodiazepine substance abuse, and finding ways to live a sustainable life without these sedative medications is the only way to consistently protect oneself from the dangers of too much Xanax.

What Causes Xanax Overdose?

A doctor’s typical Xanax prescription will call for between 0.25 and 0.5 milligrams of this medication per day, although daily doses may reach as high as 10 milligrams in particular cases. Most Xanax overdoses occur when an individual takes higher than their prescribed dose or takes Xanax without a prescription – a risk factor that is far more likely to come into play once a person has abused or developed dependence or tolerance.

Many overdoses also occur when benzodiazepines are taken when the body is still processing or carrying traces of alcohol or narcotics, or vice versa. These three types of drugs interact in potent and unpredictable ways and may lead to an overdose on Xanax even when taking an approved dose.

It bears noting that Xanax overdose may be related to an individual’s attempt on their own life. Long-term side effects of Xanax abuse include extreme mood dysphoria, mood swings, and suicidal ideation.

In all cases, after the immediate medical event of overdose has been resolved, it is crucial that the individual involved accesses substance abuse treatment and mental health services to address the root causes of the overdose.

How Much Xanax Causes Overdose?

Exactly how much is too much Xanax is difficult to predict. Individual tolerance for this drug is dependent on:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Individual metabolism
  • History of taking Xanax or other benzodiazepines
  • Presence of preexisting conditions
  • Presence of other drugs in the body

Prevention and Addiction Treatment for Xanax

If you or a loved one have been prescribed Xanax to treat anxiety or another medical condition and you are worried about the risk of addiction or overdose, it is worth seeking medical advice and guidance.

Furthermore, you or your loved one should take the prescription medication consistently according to the doctor’s specific advice. It may also be helpful to track when and how much Xanax is taken. Keeping a log or using a partitioned medication box can help you or your loved one visualize and strategize for safety during the duration of treatment.

Contact Us Today

If you believe you or someone close to you may have developed a Xanax addiction or is exhibiting warning signs of drug abuse, it may be time to reach out for help.

Here at NP Addiction Clinic, we specialize in providing safe, compassionate, confidential, and evidence-based techniques and therapy that can help you or your loved one escape the fog of benzodiazepine addiction.

Call us today for a substance abuse assessment at 866-948-2735 or to learn more.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine