Dangers of Snorting Xanax
Xanax, the most common brand name for oral alprazolam, is a potent substance in the benzodiazepine family of drugs. It is a prescription medication commonly prescribed for short-term management of a range of mental health problems including anxiety and panic disorders. Among benzodiazepines, alprazolam is particularly potent. It has a much faster acting window and is approximately ten times more powerful than similarly-prescribed diazepam.
How Is Xanax Meant to Work?
Xanax, taken as instructed, can be a valuable tool in treating a variety of acute mental disorders due to its nature as a powerful and short-acting central nervous system depressant. It suppresses activity in the brain by magnifying the effects of a key inhibitory neurotransmitter, called gabba-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that dulls and slows messaging in the nervous system. This produces a state of calm, which, when the drug is taken orally, occurs within one hour and wears off within six; useful timing for treating a panic disorder or event-specific anxiety attack.
Physical dependence, a challenging aspect of Xanax addiction, develops quickly and can occur even with normal, prescribed use. Due to the risk of substance addiction, Xanax is not designed to be a long-term treatment. Individuals who use it can rapidly find their tolerance rising, even when very careful to follow the guidelines set out by their medical professional.
However, and partly because of this, Xanax is also a common drug of abuse among America’s population living with substance use disorders. Many people are abusing Xanax, through a range of different methods, and snorting this drug is one of the most popular routes.
Insufflating (Snorting Xanax)
Insufflating, that is, crushing and snorting Xanax pills, changes the way the chemical is taken up into the body. Rather than coming on gradually, and peaking within a few hours, the effects of snorting Xanax have a more rapid onset and an increased abuse potential. This intensifies the felt effects and can bring about a profound benzodiazepine high, characterized by:
- loss of inhibition
- difficulty remembering
It is possible for a person who has been snorting benzodiazepines to appear to be alert, awake, and coherent, but to be unable to recall any memories from the period when they were high.
Other Methods of Xanax Abuse
Perhaps because of the low tradeoff between effort and increased potency when snorting drugs, snorting Xanax is the most common method of abuse. However, there are a few other ways it is commonly abused.
- Chewing Xanax increases the surface area of the drug, and like snorting, brings about a greater initial impact.
- Smoking Xanax comes with associated respiratory irritation and health consequences. Xanax is often abused in this way alongside other substances.
- Injecting Xanax can cause skin damage, and open wounds, and can cause an increased risk of life-threatening and permanent infections. Injected Xanax is also more likely to be abused in cocktails with other drugs.
As with all prescription drugs, Xanax abuse occurs whenever the substance is being taken in ways not directed by the prescribing professional’s guidelines. Xanax, taken in whole pill form, is being abused if it is taken at incorrect times, too frequently, or in too high doses; all of which put individuals at risk of overdose and addiction.
Short-Term Health Effects of Snorting Xanax
While individuals who snort Xanax may feel in control over their actions and dose, taking the pills in this way is risky each time they do it. People who snort Xanax are at persistent risk of fatal overdose, but there are other momentary risks associated with taking this drug.
- All Xanax drug abuse risks the possibility of exposing the user to fake Xanax.
- Xanax highs result in impaired coordination and awareness, as well as muscle weakness, and can easily lead to vehicular or non-vehicular accidents, risky behavior, and loss of safety.
Xanax is powerful when snorted and this means that overdose is always a risk. This is true even for pills acquired at some point through lawful medical means. If you are worried that a loved one is misusing Xanax it’s a good idea to learn the symptoms of an overdose. Call emergency services (and later a treatment center) if you suspect that someone has overdosed on Xanax. If someone has overdosed they may show signs of:
- slurred speech
- loss of coordination
- complaints of chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- loss of consciousness
Grinding or crushing pills can produce a great deal of uncertainty because it makes it difficult to know how much of the drug has been taken. This is because the surface area of the drug has increased through the process of breaking up the pills.
Overdose is an extreme risk for people who sometimes abuse alcohol or other drugs when they are taking Xanax. Taking multiple CNS depressants, (ie: alcohol and benzos at the same time) can amplify the effects of each and produce rapid life-threatening consequences. People should also keep in mind that stimulants can cloak the effects of depressants and vice versa, making it hard to tell at first that a dangerous dose has been snorted.
Long-Term Health Effects of Snorting Xanax
Long-term Xanax abuse, defined broadly as continued improper use that lasts for at least three months to half a year, takes a drastic toll on the body. This drug is not intended for long-term treatment purposes and even when it is taken orally, can cause these effects.
Repeated substance abuse by any means can potentially do irreversible damage to all the body’s key systems.
The brain: Xanax and other benzodiazepines have been connected to several debilitating cognitive effects. Abusing benzos long-term is associated with a significant increase in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The drug has also been repeatedly associated with cognitive decline by researchers and medical professionals alike.
The respiratory system: Relative to “normal abuse”, that is, taking pills orally, snorting Xanax can produce irritation throughout the respiratory tract that damages tissues in the lungs. Xanax purchased in powder form is often cut with other substances, such as starch, that may produce respiratory blockages and long-term trouble breathing.
Organ damage: Prolonged Xanax abuse in any form slows down the normal functioning of the heart, resulting in a greater risk of blood clots. It overloads the liver, potentially leading to liver failure. Hypoxia (caused by slowed breathing) and low blood pressure together can result in tissue damage anywhere in the body, and generalized poor functioning of vital organs over time.
Xanax Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms
At the same time, benzodiazepines like Xanax are nearly on par with opiates in terms of their abuse and habit-forming potential. It does not take months of Xanax abuse before an individual is experiencing tolerance and then benzodiazepine withdrawal when they stop using. Symptoms of withdrawal to watch out for include:
- muscle pain
- panic attacks
- heart palpitations
Withdrawal and tolerance are two of the key criteria the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual uses to define a substance use disorder. If you are wondering whether you or a loved one has an addiction to Xanax, look out for the following signs.
- Taking increasing doses, or taking Xanax for longer than intended.
- Struggling or failing to cut back on Xanax use despite a desire to do so.
- Xanax abuse (obtaining, using, and recovering) has become a time-consuming activity.
- Experiencing cravings.
- Struggling with personal responsibilities due to Xanax use.
- Continuing use despite relationship problems.
- Giving up beloved activities or hobbies for Xanax use.
- Xanax use continues despite entering into risky situations.
- Awareness that Xanax use may be worsening other mental health concerns.
- Developing tolerance.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Only two or three criteria need to be met before a mild Xanax addiction can be identified, although six or more indicate a severe substance use disorder. If any of these criteria describe your relationship with Xanax, it’s important to think carefully before taking action. Xanax withdrawal is a challenging barrier to benzodiazepine addiction, and cold-turkey cessation is not recommended. Don’t forget that addiction treatment services are medical practices that are designed to help you. It may be time to start looking for a treatment center that you can go to.
Xanax Addiction Treatment Overview
At Brookdale, we specialize in making residential substance abuse treatment work. Our addiction treatment center and rehab facility include a dedicated benzodiazepine medical detox program where you or your loved one can start the journey to addiction recovery. In our beautiful lakeside setting, you’ll be surrounded by positivity and calm on each step of your addiction treatment journey. We hope to make each client’s retreat and process here as enjoyable as possible.
We provide a range of services to support recovery.
- Intervention services
- Medically supervised detox and MAT
- Family therapy and our flagship family weekend program
- Dual diagnosis
- Holistic therapeutic care drawn and personalized from over ten treatment approaches,
Xanax addiction recovery can feel like regaining your senses and getting your life back. We’d like to help you. To find out more about addiction treatment, call us now at (570) 646-1658, or send us an email at [email protected]