Xanax (alprazolam) is one of a number of benzodiazepines that works as a central nervous system depressant that is prone to abuse. People that use Xanax recreationally seek the feelings of calm and wellbeing that it provides.
Benzodiazepines are addictive when taken orally as prescribed. When abused, people may resort to alternative methods of intake like snorting or rectal administration (plugging).
Oftentimes, people will take Xanax with alcoholic beverages, amphetamines, or opioids to enhance or counteract the desired effects. Alternative intake methods like plugging increase the intensity of Xanax’s effects, but carry serious risks and side effects.
Reasons People Plug Drugs Like Xanax
Drugs that are taken rectally are absorbed through the capillaries in the rectal wall and are dispersed very quickly to the system. Drugs that are taken rectally will peak very quickly but will not last as long in the body.
People that use drugs recreationally by plugging run an increased risk of physical damage from inserting the drugs. People that plug Xanax may experience more intense side effects — including the risk of overdose, which can be fatal.
Side Effects Of Xanax Use
Xanax works to depress the central nervous system in a similar manner as alcohol, but without the immediate cognitive effects. Xanax is typically prescribed as a treatment for anxiety disorders and insomnia. It creates a feeling of well-being by flooding the neurotransmitter receptors impacted by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Although Xanax is an effective treatment for mental health symptoms, it slows down vital systems like breathing and heart rate. One of the most common effects of Xanax is an increased incidence of people hurting themselves from falls and poor decision-making.
Xanax carries extensive side effects, which include:
- lowered blood pressure
- slowed respiration rate
- coordination problems
- nausea and vomiting
- poor balance
- foggy memory
- concentration problems
Risks Of Plugging Xanax
In addition to the adverse effects that come along with Xanax use and abuse, plugging the drug has particularly jarring effects on the gastrointestinal system. It also presents a dangerous additional risk of overdose and death.
Tissue Damage From Plugging Xanax
When prescription suppositories are taken, they include sterile applicators and lubrication. It’s not always likely that people that misuse Xanax rectally will take similar precautions for safe, sterile use.
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Prescribed drugs that are taken rectally include appropriate lubrication and a sterile syringe or applicator. People that plug substances might not take steps for safe and sterile use.
Plugging benzodiazepines like Xanax into the rectum can be especially dangerous for people with pre-existing conditions like:
- anorectal disorder
- poor blood flow
- persistent diarrhea
- low platelets
The varied chemical makeup of drugs like Xanax taken by plugging can irritate sensitive internal tissue and cause bleeding. Duration and intensity of drug use will determine the damage to rectal tissues.
Greater Probability Of Xanax Overdose
People believe that it is safe to take drugs by plugging. Many people believe that because the drug doesn’t enter the digestive system, and thus doesn’t impact any organ systems. The truth is that drugs that are rectally administered do not bypass the liver at all.
While Xanax enters the bloodstream and bypasses the digestive system, it affects the liver. The difference is that plugged Xanax has entered the system very quickly through the bloodstream, which causes intense effects that fade more quickly than through oral ingestion.
When combined with other substances like Adderall or alcohol, people that take Xanax rectally may continue to take more drugs when they stop feeling any effects. This is dangerous.
People may feel that because the effects of a drug have worn off, then it is no longer in the body. With downers like Xanax (and especially when combined with alcohol or opioids) overdose can happen suddenly, causing respiratory failure and death.
Increased Risk Of Fatal Overdose
Xanax depresses vital nervous system functions. When taken alone or with other CNS depressants, an overdose that occurs from plugging may overwhelm the body. Plugging Xanax can create overdose conditions in the same way as injecting or snorting the drug.
Orally ingested drugs or alcohol can be pumped from the stomach or neutralized by charcoal in some cases. Xanax overdose symptoms can be mitigated by flumazenil if detected early enough. Still, a fatal overdose may occur when Xanax is rectally ingested.
Xanax overdose symptoms include:
- heart failure
- blurred vision/dizziness
- shortness of breath
- inability to breathe (respiratory depression)
- low blood pressure
- bodily weakness
- loss of coordination
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax is addictive and may cause physical symptoms of chemical dependency. Chemical dependency symptoms don’t involve any mental or emotional association with the drug. These symptoms happen from the body’s physiological response to not having the drug for a period of time. In essence, the body begins to need the drug to function.
When a person stops using Xanax after heavy intake, withdrawal symptoms can be intense. Medical intervention or withdrawal supervision may be necessary to ensure safety.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include:
- erratic behavior
- heart palpitations
- excessive sweating
Getting Treatment For Xanax Drug Abuse
Many people continue drug or alcohol abuse in order to avoid uncomfortable or painful withdrawal symptoms. Xanax abuse through methods like plugging makes it difficult to stop taking the drug.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax should only be used as prescribed for medical conditions like anxiety. Even when taken according to a doctor’s direction, Xanax is addictive.
If you are concerned about your use of Xanax, or that you may have a Xanax addiction, get in touch with our addiction specialists to learn more about your treatment options.
From medically supervised inpatient treatment to outpatient behavioral therapy, we can help you find a path to sober living. Give us a call to learn more about recovery programs for Xanax addiction.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Medscape – Benzodiazepine Toxicity
- ScienceDirect — Rectal Administration
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Alprazolam