Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription benzodiazepine medication designed for the short-term treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. The tablet is meant to be taken by mouth before it is swallowed and digested through the gastrointestinal system.
Benzodiazepine medications are central nervous system depressants that work on levels of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA is a chemical messenger that aids in managing the stress response and acts as a natural tranquilizer. Xanax then increases the amount of GABA in the brain, which then lowers anxiety and slows down breathing rates, blood pressure, and heart rate, and brings down body temperature.
are central nervous system depressants that work on levels of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA is a chemical messenger that aids in managing the stress response and acts as a natural tranquilizer. Xanax then increases the amount of GABA in the brain, which then lowers anxiety and slows down breathing rates, blood pressure, and heart rate, and brings down body temperature.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that central nervous system depressants, along with opioids and stimulants, are some of the most widely abused classes of prescription drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) about 2.5 million Americans misused a prescription sedative or tranquilizer at least once in the month before the 2016 survey. Xanax is abused for its euphoric high, and any use of it for nonmedical purposes is misuse.
Xanax can be abused by taking the tablets outside of the bounds of a needed and legitimate prescription. Chewing the tablets, or crushing them to snort, inject, or smoke the resulting powder is also considered abuse. Snorting and smoking Xanax is extremely dangerous as it bypasses the natural mechanism designed to metabolize the medication through the gastrointestinal system.
When Xanax is snorted or smoked instead of slowly entering the bloodstream as it is broken down in the stomach, it is sent directly across the blood-brain barrier and straight into the bloodstream, taking rapid effect. This can increase the odds for a toxic buildup and life-threatening overdose.
Snorting and smoking Xanax can also increase the rate of drug tolerance and physical drug dependence more rapidly than taking it by mouth can, which can, in turn, raise the risk of addiction.
NIDA warns that more than 10,000 Americans lost their lives to an overdose that involved benzodiazepines in 2016, a number that climbed eightfold from 2002. More than 100,000 people sought medical attention in an emergency department (ED) for an adverse reaction involving alprazolam misuse in 2010, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) publishes.
Hazards of Snorting Xanax
As previously mentioned, one of the biggest risks of snorting Xanax is a life-threatening overdose. A Xanax overdose can cause a person to have trouble breathing, an irregular heart rate, low blood pressure, drowsiness, sluggishness, impaired motor skills, an inability to think clearly, nausea and vomiting, sedation, coma, and even death. When snorted, Xanax can take almost immediate effect, and it can be difficult to control or overturn the side effects.
A Xanax high is similar to that of alcohol intoxication. A person snorting Xanax is liable to be more social, have fewer inhibitions, be unable to reason or make smart decisions, and may, therefore, take bigger risks that can result in injuries, accidents, or actions that are later regretted. The risk for unwanted pregnancy and contracting a sexually transmitted or infectious disease is increased with Xanax intoxication.
Slurred speech, dizziness, lack of balance, slowed pulse and heart rate, lowered body temperature, shallow breathing, drowsiness, and impaired reflexes are all potential side effects of Xanax abuse. Snorting Xanax causes the drug to work more quickly and in lower doses than swallowing the tablet does, which can compound the possible hazards related to misuse and abuse.
The Long-Term and Regular Snorting of Xanax Can Create Many Health Concerns, Such As:
- Damage to the sinus and nasal cavities
- A lost sense of smell
- A chronic runny nose
- Recurring nosebleeds
- Respiratory illnesses and infections
- Greater potential for drug dependence and addiction
When Xanax is taken regularly for a period, a person can develop a tolerance to the drug and may feel the need to increase the dosage to feel any effects from it. Increasing the dosage can quickly lead to drug dependence. A dependence on Xanax means the person will struggle with severe and even potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms when Xanax processes out of the body.
Medication guides for Xanax warn the drug is not to be stopped suddenly, even when it is taken as directed for medical reasons, because withdrawal can be significant. Snorting Xanax can cause drug dependence to form more rapidly; therefore, withdrawal may be more intense.
Xanax withdrawal can include serious side effects such as delusions, fever, and seizures. The adverse withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings that can occur after Xanax wears off can make it hard for a person to stop taking the drug and, therefore, lead to compulsive drug use.
Addiction is a brain disease that not only affects the brain’s chemistry but also includes behavioral issues, such as an inability to control drug use and abuse. A person may wish to stop taking Xanax but can’t on their own despite multiple attempts. Snorting the drug increases the risk of addiction involving the medication.
Risks of Smoking Xanax
Aside from the elevated risk for a fatal overdose, and an increased rate of drug dependence and addiction, smoking Xanax can have several other negative consequences. In the short-term, smoking Xanax can lead to burns on the hands or face and respiratory issues. Smoking drugs can affect the respiratory system, causing chronic cough, an increased risk for developing respiratory and lung infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis, and possibly a heightened chance for developing certain types of cancers such as lung cancer.
The journal Psychopharmacology reports that not only does inhaling alprazolam mean it takes effect more rapidly, this method also increases the drug’s potency. That means smoking Xanax can make the drug more potent in lower doses. A smaller amount of Xanax can then have more significant effect when smoked than it does when taken by mouth.
When smoked, Xanax is often combined with other drugs, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other prescription medications. Mixing Xanax with other drugs is even more potentially dangerous. It can exacerbate all of the possible side effects of each drug and the odds of suffering from a life-threatening overdose go up exponentially.