The Dangers of Injecting & Smoking Xanax (Alprazolam)
Xanax, a prescription medication containing the drug alprazolam, is widely prescribed in the United States to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorders.
But while Xanax plays an important role in legitimate medical treatment, it (and other benzodiazepine medications such as Restoril (temazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam ), and Valium (diazepam)) are frequently abused for the purposes of self-medication and recreation.
However, while any form of prescription drug abuse is dangerous, not all methods of abuse are equal. Modifying Xanax pills for injection or inhalation exposes you to more side effects and health risks than taking the tablets by mouth.
Injecting drugs intravenously is the fastest way to achieve a high, as it forces the total dose of medication directly into the bloodstream.
However, alprazolam is not water-soluble, and Xanax tablets are designed to release the drug at a controlled rate via the digestive tract. These two facts together mean that if the tablets are ground up, mixed into a liquid, and injected, harmful side effects are extremely likely.
Blocked Blood Vessels, Necrosis, & Amputation
Because alprazolam and the various filler compounds in a Xanax tablet are not water soluble, the mixture that ends up being injected will be cloudy with suspended solids and precipitates. In the bloodstream, these can be devastating.
Potential effects include serious heart issues and blocked veins and capillaries, leading to circulation problems including acute limb ischemia in fingers, toes, and limbs.
If these digits or limbs suffocate and die because they can’t get enough blood, the necrotic tissue will need to be amputated in order to save the rest of the body.
Injection Site Damage & Infection
Repeated injections with needles in the same location on the body leads to infections and collapsed veins.
Each time the vein is pierced the skin and tissue around the injection site will inflame and swell, eventually causing the vein to fail altogether.
Poor sterilization practices can also introduce bacteria to the body, potentially causing:
- skin abscesses
- serious illnesses
Sharing needles can also expose you to particularly dangerous and deadly infections like HIV and hepatitis C.
By delivering the full impact of the dose all at once, you can achieve an intense, euphoric (but short-lived) high. But this intense high comes at a serious risk of overdose due to how Xanax slows down the central nervous system.
Because of its chemistry, Xanax is significantly more toxic than other benzodiazepines in cases of overdose. Intravenous drug use only increases this risk.
The risk of overdose is further increased if Xanax is used in combination with other sedatives such as barbiturates, alcohol, or opioids.
Symptoms of a Xanax overdose include:
- impaired coordination
- reduced reflexes
- slowed heart rate
- difficult, shallow, or slow breathing
If you suspect a Xanax overdose has occurred, call for immediate medical assistance as the symptoms could be life-threatening.
Dependence & Addiction
Xanax is only recommended for short-term treatment. By increasing use, you may also increase the rate at which the body develops physical dependence on the medication.
Once this dependence forms, any attempt to get off the drug can result in withdrawal symptoms. This process of withdrawal becomes more and more severe the longer the drug is taken, or when it is taken in larger doses or more frequently.
Instead of snorting Xanax, injecting it, or taking the drug in some other way, you may choose to crush the tablets into powder and smoke them. This is often done in combination with other drugs like marijuana.
While some abuse Xanax in this way, it’s unclear how this practice changes the drug’s effects on the body compared to other methods of ingestion.
Whatever the case, smoking any drug can cause respiratory irritation, damage lung performance, and increase the risk of cancer later in life.
This may be especially true of oral Xanax tablets, which are produced with various filler compounds not intended for inhalation.
Treating Xanax Abuse
If you or a loved one is suffering from Xanax addiction contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today to discuss personalized substance abuse treatment options.
Our recovery programs include:
- medical detox
- inpatient treatment options
- outpatient treatment options
- behavioral therapy
Peer Based Harm Reduction WA - Are you Injecting
National Center for Biotechnology Information - A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Alprazolam
ScienceDirect - Outcome after Injections of Crushed Tablets in Intravenous Drug Abusers in the Helsinki University Central Hospital
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