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  • Snorting Xanax (Alprazolam) | Can You Snort Xanax?

    dangers of snorting xanax

    Alprazolam, brand name Xanax, is a popular benzodiazepine (or “benzo”) used to treat panic disorder and other anxiety disorders. It provides short-term anxiety relief by enhancing the activity of a brain chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). 

    Because this prescription drug can cause euphoria (intense joy), it has high abuse potential. Some people abuse Xanax by crushing the tablets into a powder and snorting it. This practice can lead to a number of serious health problems. 

    Effects Of Snorting Xanax

    If you snort Xanax, you’ll experience the same effects of taking it orally: sedation and, possibly, euphoria. However, the effects will begin much more quickly when you snort it. In one study, people who took Xanax orally felt effects in 49 minutes, while those who snorted it felt effects in just 2 minutes. 

    In addition to sedation and euphoria, Xanax can cause side effects such as:

    • drowsiness
    • dizziness
    • headache
    • dry mouth
    • joint pain
    • constipation
    • trouble urinating
    • altered sex drive or ability 
    • skin rash
    • yellowing of the eyes or skin
    • unusual talkativeness
    • trouble concentrating, speaking, or walking 
    • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t real)
    • confusion
    • memory issues
    • depression 
    • thinking about or attempting suicide

    If you or someone you love experiences suicidal ideation or other serious side effects of Xanax, seek medical attention immediately. 

    Dangers Of Snorting Xanax

    Along with rapidly causing side effects, snorting Xanax increases your risk of nose, throat, and lung problems, bloodborne diseases, addiction, and overdose. 

    Nose, Throat, & Lung Problems

    Any intranasal drug use takes a toll on your delicate nasal passages. In addition, if you snort Xanax from unclean surfaces such as rolled-up dollars bills, you may introduce bacteria and other contaminants into your body. 

    This is why many people who snort Xanax experience health concerns like: 

    • frequent runny nose
    • nosebleeds
    • nasal cavity inflammation 
    • sinus infections
    • loss of the sense of smell
    • throat irritation 
    • trouble swallowing
    • lung infections

    Bloodborne Diseases

    If you share straws, rolled-up dollar bills, or other snorting equipment with someone else, you may contract a bloodborne disease such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or hepatitis C. 

    When left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS, while hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage. 

    Xanax Addiction

    If you regularly snort Xanax, you may develop an addiction. Also called substance use disorder (SUD), addiction is a disease that makes you feel unable to control your drug use. 

    Common signs of Xanax addiction include:

    • intense cravings for Xanax
    • doctor shopping, which means you visit multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions of Xanax
    • tolerance, which means you need increasingly higher doses of Xanax to feel the desired effects
    • physical dependency, which means your body requires Xanax to function normally 

    If you’re physically dependent on Xanax and you try to stop using it, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as:

    • sweating
    • irritability
    • aggression
    • blurry vision
    • uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • muscle cramps or twitches
    • loss of appetite
    • pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands or feet
    • seizures

    To avoid or decrease Xanax withdrawal symptoms, you should attend a medical detox program. There, medical professionals will gradually lower your dosage while monitoring your physical and mental health. 

    After you complete detox, your doctor will probably recommend attending a drug abuse and addiction treatment program. These inpatient and outpatient programs help you avoid relapse through behavioral therapy, peer support groups, and other recovery services.

    Xanax Overdose

    All forms of Xanax abuse pose a risk of overdose. However, snorting Xanax is particularly dangerous since the drug enters your system so quickly. You’re even more likely to overdose if you combine the Xanax with other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or opioids.

    Common signs of Xanax overdose include:

    • drowsiness
    • confusion
    • impaired coordination
    • loss of consciousness (coma)

    If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, immediately call 911 or the Poison Control Helpline (1-800-222-1222). When left untreated, a Xanax overdose can be life-threatening. If you or a loved one struggles with Xanax abuse or addiction, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn about our comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse - What Are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Alprazolam
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: Psychopharmacology - Inhaled vs. Oral Alprazolam: Subjective, Behavioral and Cognitive Effects, and Modestly Increased Abuse Potential

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 29, 2022
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