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Snorting Xanax: Side Effects and Dangers

Anxious womanAlprazolam (Xanax) is a sedative and hypnotic benzodiazepine (“benzo”) medication that’s generally prescribed to:

  • Reduce anxiety.
  • Relieve panic attacks.

Some people may begin taking Xanax as a sleep aid, however this is not an approved use of the drug.

Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicate that the number of Americans ages 12 and older who are seeking help for abuse of Xanax and similar drugs has been steadily increasing. The agency has found the following:

  • In 1998, the percentage of substance abuse treatment admissions related to benzos was 1.3%.
  • In 2008, the percentage rose to 3.2%.
  • About 22,400 people were admitted for treatment for benzo abuse in 1998.
  • More than 60,000 were admitted for treatment in 2008.
  • About 50 million prescriptions for Xanax are written every year in the US.

Xanax abuse is part of a growing trend in prescription drug abuse across the country. This trend affects teens and adults alike. Benzos such as Xanax have a high potential for abuse and dependency, but fortunately overdose from Xanax alone is rare. However, this may not be the case when the drug is used in the context of polysubstance abuse, including with alcohol).

Because users build a tolerance to Xanax’s effects rather quickly, many people who start abusing Xanax by taking the pills orally find that the same dose doesn’t provide the same high after extensive use. These people often turn to other methods of administration in the hunt for a benzo high. Sometimes they inject the drug, but often they snort it.

Snorting Xanax is a method of use that’s growing especially popular. Generally, snorting a drug will cause a faster, more intense high. But this isn’t the case with Xanax. Snorting the medication is no more effective than simply swallowing the pills.

Xanax Addiction Risk

If a person has been snorting Xanax for a long time, there’s a high likelihood they’ll become addicted to it. Research on Xanax addiction has revealed some associations that might indicate a higher risk profile for dependence. These people include:
Xanax addiction can cause insomnia

  • Individuals with a history of substance use problems.
  • Individuals who suffer from chronic pain.
  • Individuals in recovery from alcohol addiction.
  • Individuals with psychological issues, such as:
    • Anxiety
    • Depression.
    • Insomnia.
    • Paranoia.

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal

Suddenly discontinuing Xanax use can cause headaches, anxiety, agitation, nausea, vomiting, and a rapid heart rate. In users who have been taking large doses of the drug for a long period of time, withdrawing from Xanax can cause life-threatening seizures. Other dangerous signs and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal may include:

  • Psychosis.
  • Grand mal seizures, in which a person might experience violent muscle contractions or lose consciousness.
  • Severe hyperthermia, or increased body temperature.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax addiction, even thinking about getting help can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to begin, our rehab placement advisors can walk you through the process and help you find an addiction treatment program that is best for you. Please call 1-888-744-0789 today.

Misconceptions About Snorting Xanax

Many Xanax users believe that crushing the pills and snorting them will cause a faster, more intense high, but this route holds no such advantages for Xanax. When a person snorts benzos such as Xanax, the substance does not quickly pass through the nasal mucosa to be delivered straight to the brain the way some drugs do when they’re snorted. Instead Xanax enters the bloodstream at a rate comparable to if the user had swallowed the pills.

While snorting Xanax seems to be getting more popular as a method of administration, doing so damages the nasal cavity and throat with no benefit to the user in terms of the high they experience. The user will get high in the same amount of time and to the same extent as they would if they’d taken Xanax orally.

Getting Help for Xanax Addiction

Medical supervision during withdrawalFor someone who’s become dependent on Xanax to function physically and mentally, trying to stop on their own could cause severe side effects. The detoxification and withdrawal period for benzos such as Xanax can have potentially fatal effects, so medical supervision is necessary during this time.

Recovering from Xanax abuse safely and effectively requires a drug abuse treatment facility that specializes in treating benzodiazepine addiction. Under the supervision of qualified addiction professionals, an individual can avoid the serious consequences of Xanax withdrawal.

Treatment Programs for Xanax Addiction

Inpatient treatment requires staying at a rehab center or treatment facility for a certain period of time. Due to the risk of intense Xanax withdrawal symptoms, inpatient treatment might prevent dangerous outcomes. Failed treatment attempts to quit using Xanax in an outpatient setting and personal preferences are indications that inpatient treatment settings are appropriate.

Individuals with mild or moderate Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be managed in outpatient treatment settings. This not only lowers the cost of treatment but also prevents interruptions in family and work obligations.

Treatment for Xanax abuse generally focuses on gradually reducing the person’s dose over time to ease them off of the drug. After this process, behavioral therapies are emphasized heavily to help former users resist relapse. Because withdrawal and cravings can be unpleasant, some people recovering from a Xanax addiction find that a treatment facility focused largely on comfort and privacy offers them the best base for recovery. Others might opt for specialized treatment that accommodates the need for privacy and the desire to remain active in the workplace throughout the duration of residential treatment.

These private, comfort-centric programs are called luxury, or executive, programs. They tend to offer residents many amenities, including Internet access, pools, and spa services.

These amenities tend to cost more and might help distract recovering Xanax users from the discomfort of withdrawal. Traditional treatment facilities can offer the same quality of treatment, but they are not as focused on comfort and therapeutic recreational activities.

Finding the Right Xanax Rehab Program

Through the support of your treatment team and peers in recovery, you can overcome Xanax addiction and regain control of your life. Contact our rehab placement specialists for advice and referrals to the top exclusive addiction treatment facilities in your area. Call 1-888-744-0789 today.


  1. Kaur, P. & Kim, K. (2008). “Pharmacokinetics and brain uptake of diazepam after intravenous and intranasal administration in rats and rabbits.” International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 364. 27-35.
  2. Wermeling, D.P. (2009). “Intranasal delivery of antiepileptic medications for treatment of seizures.” Neurotherapeutics, 6(2). 352-358.