Xanax, a prescription drug that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, is the brand name for the drug alprazolam. According to the NLM, “Alprazolam is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.” The drug can be extremely beneficial to those who need it and take it in the doses recommended by their doctor. However, abusing Xanax is often done by those who want to experience the side effect of euphoria caused by high doses of the drug. Often, these individuals crush the pills and snort them in order to do so.
How Common is Snorting Xanax?
As stated by a study from the NCBI, “Snorting benzodiazepines appears to be more common than is currently appreciated.” People who abuse benzodiazepines in this way often become extremely drowsy and will attempt to fight the urge to go to sleep. This can be one of the causes of the euphoria they feel.
“Benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed depressant medications in the United States today” which makes them easily and widely available to those who might choose to abuse them (CESAR). Many individuals who do so are often adolescents or young adults, and these are the users more likely to crush the tablets in order to bring about their euphoric effects more quickly. According to the DEA, “Alprazolam and diazepam are the two most frequently encountered benzodiazepines on the illicit market.” Other individuals who use these drugs illicitly often are frequent cocaine and heroin abusers looking for a cheaper high when they cannot obtain their drug of choice.
Dangers of Snorting Xanax
Abusing drugs for their euphoric effects is dangerous, but it is even more so when the individual who abuses them tampers with the drug’s method of use. For example, the high from snorting Xanax comes on much faster than if the individual were to take the drug orally. This also means that the effects will diminish much more quickly, leaving the user wanting more. Someone who snorts Xanax is often more likely to abuse the drug continuously in order to prolong their high, an action of many individuals who abuse cocaine. This is called binge abuse, and it can lead to addiction much more quickly than abusing a drug orally.
The potency of the drug will also increase, giving a person a stronger high than if they just took it orally. Xanax was not meant to be crushed and snorted, thus its effects are intensified and made more dangerous by this action. Individuals who do snort Xanax are putting themselves in much more danger than those who take it as directed.
Xanax abusers also experience drowsiness and fatigue along with vision problems and even vertigo. These individuals are more likely to be involved in an accident as a result of their drug abuse and its effects.
According to CESAR, “Some benzodiazepines are eliminated from the body slowly. Thus, [abusing] multiple doses over long periods of time can lead to significant accumulation of fatty tissues.”
This is called over-sedation and can lead to many dangerous effects such as:
- Impaired thinking and judgement
- Memory problems
- Slurred speech
- Weakness of the muscles
- Coordination problems
A person could also overdose on Xanax after snorting too much which could lead to loss of consciousness and coma. According to the NIDA, abusing Xanax can cause intense respiratory depression. Many individuals who abuse benzodiazepines also do so with alcohol. This “further slows heart rate and breathing, which can lead to death.”
It is extremely likely that someone who snorts Xanax often will become addicted to the drug. An individual who experiences this issue will not be able to stop taking Xanax, even if they realize the dangers it is causing in their life. In addition, the individual will also experience tolerance to the drug’s effects, causing them to take higher doses each time they abuse it in order to feel the same effects they once did.
Users become dependent on Xanax when taking it as prescribed over a long period of time, and those who snort the drug will also.
This is one of the reasons why someone addicted to Xanax should not merely stop taking it, as they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Pain in the hands and feet
- Nausea and vomiting
According to the Semel Institute of UCLA, “In rare cases, withdrawal from the drug can also result in psychosis and convulsions.” It is likely to cause suicidal thoughts, especially in younger individuals. Those who do become addicted to and dependent on Xanax after snorting the drug for a prolonged amount of time will need to attend formal treatment in order to safely go through detox and learn how to avoid the possibility of further drug abuse.
Long-term Health Effects of Snorting Xanax
Columbia University states that “respiratory problems, such as destruction of the nasal and sinus cavities and lung tissue” can result from inhaling prescription stimulants. Unfortunately, the same issue can occur when someone snorts Xanax and other prescription sedatives. The continuous introduction of foreign objects into the nasal cavity can have effects on this part of the body no matter what drug the individual is snorting.
Other health effects include:
- Mood disturbances
- Some individuals develop signs of mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder after abusing drugs like Xanax in the long term.
- Erratic behavior
- High doses of benzodiazepines can cause hostile behavior or cause users to act irrationally. This is very likely to occur among individuals who snort Xanax because they will be more likely to abuse continuous doses of the drug.
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Nausea, vomiting, and constipation are all common with Xanax abuse.
- Vision problems
- Some individuals experience blurry or altered vision when abusing Xanax.
Individuals who snort Xanax are extremely likely to become addicted to the drug while also experiencing extreme health issues and dangerous side effects. No one should snort Xanax as the drug is meant to be taken orally and by prescription only.