Snorting Xanax | Dangers Of Alprazolam Insufflation

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 14, 2020

Xanax is a commonly prescribed drug, but it’s also addictive, which means it can easily be abused. It’s even easier to develop an addiction when snorting Xanax. If someone in your life may be snorting Xanax, here’s what you need to know about the side effects, dangers, and treatment options.

Snorting Xanax | Dangers Of Alprazolam Insufflation

Xanax, when taken orally as prescribed, can be helpful to those who have panic disorders or anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, it’s also very addictive and dangerous, especially if insufflated (snorted).

Some of the biggest dangers of snorting Xanax include:

  • changes in behavior (aggression)
  • hallucinations and paranoia
  • depression and suicidal ideation
  • developing a Xanax addiction
  • risk of overdose

Xanax is a common brand name for the drug, alprazolam. Alprazolam belongs to a class of prescription drugs called benzodiazepines (benzos). Other common benzos include Ativan and Valium.

Xanax is typically prescribed by behavioral health doctors to help treat patients with a panic disorder or an anxiety disorder. Many people in the United States with anxiety and panic attacks are treated with Xanax.

Of course, its high abuse potential makes Xanax a dangerous drug. It’s especially dangerous if it’s taken in higher doses than prescribed or if it’s snorted.

In fact, one study found that snorted Xanax is more likely to be abused than Xanax that’s being taken orally. Because inhaled Xanax has an even higher abuse potential, it’s easier for someone to get addicted to Xanax when they’re snorting it.

Unfortunately, abusing Xanax has several short-term and long-term side effects, including the potential to develop a Xanax addiction, experience Xanax withdrawal, and the risk of overdose.

Snorting Xanax: Short-Term Side Effects

Xanax is a central nervous system depressant, which means that the person taking it may feel relaxing, sedative-like effects. This is due to the way the drug affects the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain.

The short-term side effects of Xanax may be felt significantly faster when snorting the prescription medication.

Common short-term side effects may include:

  • drowsiness
  • lightheadedness
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • nausea
  • irritability
  • difficulty moving/thinking
  • blurred vision/hallucinations

The short-term effects of Xanax can be worse if the drug is taken with alcohol, opioids, or another central nervous system depressant.

When a person is snorting Xanax, the sedation feelings and short-term side effects may be felt much faster. One study found that the onset of effects happened 49 minutes after taking Xanax orally compared to two minutes after snorting Xanax.

Because the effects of Xanax are felt so much faster when snorted, the abuse potential may be significantly higher. Plus, a physical addiction to Xanax can develop even after short-term drug use.

Long-Term Dangers Of Snorting Xanax

In addition to short-term side effects, there are long-term dangers that come with snorting Xanax and drug abuse in general.

The biggest long-term dangers of snorting Xanax include:

  • changes in behavior
  • depression
  • suicidal ideation
  • hallucinations and paranoia
  • seizures from a Xanax use disorder
  • overdose risk

The long-term use of Xanax affects your brain and body, and people who abuse Xanax can easily develop an addiction to it. Using Xanax for an extended period of time, even as prescribed, may lead to a Xanax addiction. Because of this, snorting Xanax is very likely to become a habit.


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Some of the biggest long-term dangers of Xanax addiction are evident during withdrawal, including the possibility of seizures. In a study that watched 1,980 patients, eight ultimately had seizures that were linked to taking Xanax.

Snorting drugs in general can have many effects on the nasal cavity and surrounding areas as well.

These could include:

  • effects on the nasal cavity
  • damage to the sinuses
  • damage to the nasal passage

In addition to withdrawal and the possibility of seizures, Xanax addiction in general can have lasting effects. The drug works with the part of the brain called the extended amygdala. In this area, it can help control stress, anxiety, and irritability.

After using Xanax for an extended period of time, this part of the brain can become really sensitive. This can cause people who have developed a substance use disorder to want more of the drug in order to get relief. This ultimately makes it even more difficult to break the addiction.

Other Effects Of Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse and Xanax addiction can have both short-term and long-term physical and cognitive effects.

Three of the most dangerous effects that can come from Xanax abuse include:

  • developing a Xanax addiction or chemical dependency
  • experiencing Xanax withdrawal
  • risk of overdose

Whether a person is snorting Xanax, taking more than the prescribed amount, or abusing the drug in any other way, these risk factors could happen. Again, a physical dependence on Xanax can develop even after a short period of time.

Developing A Xanax Addiction

Xanax, or alprazolam, is often prescribed by doctors in the United States to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorders. Because of the sedative-like effects of Xanax, its high abuse potential, and how obtainable it is, developing a Xanax addiction can be easy.

If a person snorts Xanax, they’ll feel the effects even faster. Because of the quick onset time with snorting, the long-term substance abuse potential of Xanax can be even higher.

When a person has recently snorted Xanax, they may have some noticeable side effects from being high. These side effects may include drowsiness, lightheadedness, or difficulty concentrating.

If someone you know has been using Xanax for a while, he or she may also:

  • sleep for long periods of time
  • be sluggish
  • not show up to work/school/social events
  • isolate themselves
  • have side effects from recently taking Xanax

Developing a Xanax addiction can be easier than you may think. Even a person who is taking Xanax as prescribed can develop a physical dependence. Someone who is taking Xanax as prescribed should never be inhaling the drug.

Experiencing Xanax Withdrawal

Many of the worst side effects of Xanax are associated with the withdrawal symptoms many people go through when they stop taking the drug.

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe.

They can come with side effects including:

  • cravings
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • restlessness and trouble sleeping
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • irritability and aggressiveness
  • depression and suicidal ideation
  • worsened anxiety and increased panic attacks
  • seizures

When someone who has been snorting or taking Xanax for a long period of time stops taking it, they may experience these unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

While it’s rarely deadly, Xanax withdrawal is definitely challenging and uncomfortable. Still, some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms from Xanax can be life-threatening. Because of that, Xanax abuse and addiction should never be taken lightly.

Risk Of Overdose

As with nearly any drug, the risk of overdose is the most dangerous effect. Deaths caused by an overdose of alprazolam (Xanax) alone have been reported.

Symptoms of a Xanax overdose may include:

  • extreme sleepiness
  • confusion
  • lack of coordination
  • slowed reflexes
  • coma

If Xanax is mixed with anything else, including alcohol, the risk of overdose can be increased. In many overdose cases that have involved both Xanax and alcohol, the alcohol levels weren’t high enough to have caused the overdose alone.

Additionally, more than 30 percent of overdoses that involve opioids also involve benzodiazepines like Xanax.

The risk of overdose is high when abusing Xanax, and it’s even higher when Xanax is snorted or being used alongside other drugs, including alcohol.

If someone you know is showing any signs of snorting Xanax or a Xanax overdose, get help right away.

Treatment Options For People Who Snort Xanax

Whether someone is snorting Xanax or abusing the drug in other ways, there are several treatment options available. Xanax drug addiction can be addressed with either inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment.

Inpatient treatment is more intensive and immersive compared to outpatient treatment. With this treatment program, the patient will go to a detox or inpatient rehab facility and stay there for a few weeks or months while they receive treatment.

In general, it’s the most effective treatment option for people who snort Xanax or have a Xanax addiction.

Of course, inpatient treatment isn’t always an option. Whether it’s due to jobs, families, or other responsibilities, inpatient treatment may not be the best choice for everyone.

Another option is outpatient treatment. With this recovery program, people visit a treatment center several times weekly in order to get support and resources. Outpatient treatment options may include a medical detox first, just as with inpatient programs.

No matter which option the person chooses, Xanax abuse treatment programs may include:

  • behavioral therapy
  • medication
  • evaluation and treatment for other mental health issues, including depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-up treatments to prevent relapsing

Because it can be dangerous to quit taking Xanax altogether right away, it’s best to contact an addiction treatment specialist that can work with you to decide on the best course of action.

Finding Xanax Rehab Programs

Finding the right Xanax treatment program is important for a person’s long-term recovery success. If you or someone you know is looking for a Xanax rehab program, you can contact an addiction specialist to find the right addiction center and healthcare program.

Additionally, you can use this website to browse top rehabs by state or treatment type. A number of treatment providers in the U.S. offer treatment options for benzo abuse.

If you or someone you know is having problems with Xanax abuse or Xanax addiction, don’t put off getting help. Contact the treatment specialist helpline today to learn more about finding a treatment facility that works for you or your loved one.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 14, 2020


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