Snorting Xanax - Side Effects and Health Risks
Why would someone snort Xanax?
Whether it’s because they’ve developed a physical tolerance (meaning it takes more of the drug to get the desired high) or because they simply want to intensify its effects, some users will use medications like Xanax in ways they were never intended, including crushing the pills and snorting them.
The main reason for this is that many users believe snorting Xanax will make the drug start working more quickly and/or increase the intensity of the effect or high they get from it. However, studies performed on both animals and humans have not shown any evidence that snorting Xanax will help the drug take effect in the brain any sooner – with the exception of the time-released formulations of the medication. Similar studies also suggest that the effects aren’t any more pronounced than when it’s taken orally.
What are the dangers of snorting Xanax?
Of course, addiction and overdose are two of the primary health concerns, but snorting prescription drugs can also lead to other health consequences. Because these kinds of medications are formulated to be taken orally, they contain things like cellulose and other chemical binders and filler ingredients that can harm the nasal passages, throat and lungs, and can cause issues like:
- Blocked airways
- Sinus inflammation
- Damage to the nasal cavity
- An increased risk of sinus infections
- Loss of sense of smell
- Lung infections
When users escalate their substance abuse to the point that they are snorting pills, there is also the risk that they will purchase tablets made by illicit manufacturers. Often purchased illegally online or from street dealers, these “knock-off” Xanax pills (which may or may not contain the actual active ingredient, alprazolam) are typically made in countries where there is little over no oversight into the production and may contain dangerous additives that are harmful if swallowed or inhaled.
What are the main risks with Xanax abuse/addiction?
Besides the damage inhaling pills designed for oral use can have on the nose, throat and lungs, abusing benzodiazepines drugs like Xanax can lead to a number of other problems in both the body and the brain, including:
Emotional instability, depression, and increased risk of suicide
Due to the way it affects certain parts of the brain – in this case the centers responsible for regulating emotional regulation and response – Xanax abuse (especially over long periods of time) can lead to mood swings and distressing outbursts of emotion that can even become violent. And because the user’s brain and thought patterns become affected over time, they may not even understand that their emotions have become so out of control.
These emotional side effects commonly lead to depression and suicidal thoughts in users, possibly leading to them to self-harm or suicide and making them even more likely to continue escalating their substance abuse.
Increased risk of injury
Because these drugs affect the central nervous system much like alcohol does, they can lead to a lowered sense of inhibition and an increase in risk-taking behaviors. This combined with a loss of coordination, visual-spatial difficulties, and slowed response time, means tasks that may be easily performed while sober can become dangerous, causing injuries to both users as well as those around them.
Falls and cuts from sharp objects are common, but the biggest dangers can come from trying to do things like driving a car while under the influence of these kinds of medications.
Difficulty forming and recalling memories
One of the well-documented side effects of Xanax is memory damage or the inability to form memories while taking the drug. This has to do with the way it affects the areas of the brain responsible for forming short- and long-term memories, and it can be especially pronounced when the drug is combined with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol.
Overdose and death
There is conflicting information out there about the risk of overdose with medications like Xanax. When taken in appropriate doses, as prescribed, this risk is low. However, when taken in high doses or combined with other substances like alcohol or opiate pain medications, the risk becomes much higher.
Symptoms of benzodiazepine overdose may include:
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty breathing
Alcohol is especially dangerous when paired with benzodiazepine drugs, as it has what’s called a synergistic reaction, magnifying the way they affect the central nervous system. This can lead to a dangerous drop in heart rate and respiration that could cause a person to slip into a coma or stop breathing.
In addition, as the liver prioritizes metabolizing alcohol over most other substances, combining alcohol with Xanax can also lead to a build up of the drug in the body, further increasing the risk of overdose.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms
Physical dependence on Xanax can develop very quickly – within just a couple of weeks of use. When a person becomes physically dependent on the drug, they will increasingly need higher doses to achieve the same effect they desire, and when there is none present the user will experience unpleasant and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can set in quickly after the last dose wears off, usually within a few hours.
The amount of dose length and frequency of use contribute to the intensity of the Xanax withdrawal symptoms which may include:
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Increased anxiety and nervousness
- Intense sweating
- Memory issues
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Delirium Tremens – a life threating, emergency medical condition
Some of these withdrawal symptoms – insomnia, nausea and vomiting, etc. – are merely uncomfortable, while others can be life-threatening problems. For this reason, abruptly quitting Xanax is not recommended.
How to quit Xanax safely
The safest and most effective way to quit and recover from addiction to Xanax or any other sedative medication is to undergo inpatient treatment with a qualified substance addiction treatment provider like Enterhealth that can help you safely taper off the medication under close medical supervision.
Enterhealth Ranch provides patients with supervised drug and alcohol detox (also known as withdrawal stabilization) services for Xanax addiction, which includes anti-addiction medication therapy. Our trained medical staff and addiction treatment professionals help patients safely lower their dose over time while closely monitoring their health to prevent and treat any potentially dangerous reactions or complications.
In addition, because people who abuse Xanax often experience mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (whether pre-existing, or as a result of the substance abuse), we also employ mental health evaluations, psychiatric care and behavioral therapy interventions to treat these conditions throughout recovery. This helps to address the dysfunctional thought patterns and behaviors that contributed to and exacerbated their substance abuse and greatly reduces the chances of relapse.
Xanax rehabilitation with Enterhealth
Based in Dallas, Texas, Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence provide a leading drug and alcohol addiction treatment program that’s proven to be more effective than traditional twelve-step programs.
Using a scientific, evidence-based approach, our advanced evaluations and treatment protocols are designed and administered by experienced, board-certified addiction psychiatrists, physicians and other experts.
Enterhealth Ranch is the premier inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, offering all patients their own private room and bathroom, we well as access to luxury amenities and conveniences.
Addiction can affect anyone, which is why our goal is understand the factors and forces that caused each patient’s addiction so we can find the right combination of medical, psychological, and therapeutic treatment to help people regain a stable and productive life.