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The Dangers Of Snorting Xanax (Alprazolam)

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Although people may believe snorting Xanax produces a quicker high, snorting any benzodiazepine is likely less effective than taking them orally. Snorting Xanax is dangerous and may include adverse nasal reactions, overdose, and dependence.

How Does Xanax Work?

Alprazolam (or Xanax) is a benzodiazepine and works by slowing down activity in the brain. Slowed brain activity results in the sedating and tranquilizing effects of Xanax. The calming effects of Xanax make it effective for treating panic and anxiety disorders.

As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, Xanax increases a chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid, also called GABA. The more GABA a person has in their brain, the more relaxed or calm they’re likely to feel.

Xanax comes in tablet form and is directed to be taken orally. Oral administration is the recommended way to take Xanax for prescriptions. The tablets are designed to be swallowed whole, and should never be crushed, broken or chewed. Once swallowed, the alprazolam in the tablet is metabolized, or digested, and the effects of the drug peak about 1-2 hours later.

People abusing Xanax may crush the tablet in order to snort it. Snorting Xanax is believed to give a person a quicker high, like snorting heroin or methamphetamine, because the drug enters the bloodstream faster. While nasal administration may be effective for some drugs, Xanax isn’t one of them. Because of the particular chemical makeup of the drug, snorting Xanax is likely to have little effect on a person.

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Can You Snort Xanax?

Many prescription drugs are designed to travel safely through the nasal passage and enter the brain. Nasal sprays, for example, contain liquid and are easily absorbed by the nose. Benzodiazepines like Xanax, however, are not only harmful to snort through the nose, but also less effective.

While there is limited research on the subject, snorting Xanax may produce mild euphoria because the drug eventually “drips” into the digestive tract and stomach, and is then processed in the same way as oral administration. Snorting Xanax does not work the same way as snorting cocaine, because the intoxicating substance alprazolam will likely not enter the bloodstream via the nose.

Is Xanax Water Soluble?

Xanax is not water-soluble, which means it doesn’t dissolve in water; the drug does not travel well through the nasal passage. The point of snorting drugs is to feel the effects quicker, but since Xanax isn’t water-soluble, the drug won’t enter the bloodstream any quicker than oral administration.

While snorting Xanax doesn’t quicken the effects and is considered “wasting” the drug by many people suffering from Xanax use and addiction, it doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Like many substances, there are inherent dangers of snorting Xanax.

The Dangers Of Snorting Xanax (Alprazolam)

Crushing Xanax tablets will likely create a powder. Snorting any powder is harmful and can cause adverse reactions along the nasal passage. Furthermore, snorting any medication designed to be taken orally is likely to lead to use and addiction.

Although research shows benzodiazepines are less effective when snorted, some people do report feeling quicker and stronger effects. Snorting Xanax is dangerous because the effects are likely limited, and snorting more and more increases the risk of nasal problems, overdose and dependence.

Nasal Problems

Snorting Xanax is likely to cause problems along the nasal passageway. Alprazolam, the potent substance found in Xanax, only makes up a portion of the tablet. The rest of the tablet consists of inactive ingredients, like cornstarch, that have little to no effect on the brain.

Any powder snorted through the nose is likely to cause inflammation along the nasal cavity. Materials found in Xanax, besides alprazolam, are likely to cause harm because certain materials are not meant to interact with soft tissue found in the human nose.

Snorting Xanax through the nose may cause damage to the nasal lining, block nasal airways and affect sinuses. Long-term use of snorting Xanax can have serious health consequences because all the air a person breathes is filtered through the nose, and damage can cause infection in the lungs. Besides physical damage to the nose and other organs in the body, snorting Xanax increases the risk of benzodiazepine overdose.


Overdose occurs when a person takes too much of a drug. Xanax overdose can be fatal, and thousands of people die each year from benzodiazepine overdose. Some deaths are likely caused by snorting Xanax or taking the drug through other means of administration.

Symptoms of Xanax overdose include:

  • confusion
  • coordination problems
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness

If someone is overdosing on Xanax, 9-1-1 should be contacted immediately. A medication called Flumazenil may be available to reverse the effects of a benzodiazepine overdose and save a life. Snorting Xanax is dangerous not only because it increases the risk of overdose, but also because it will likely lead to physical and psychological dependence, a major indicator of addiction and use.


Dependence may occur when a person snorts Xanax because the drug is habit-forming and addictive. Snorting Xanax, or taking the drug in ways other than directed, is considered drug use and may lead to dependence.

Snorting Xanax may build tolerance, which requires a person takes more and more of the drug to get high. Taking more means the body will become used to having Xanax in the system. Once Xanax is removed from a person’s body, the body needs time to adjust and recover.

This period of adjustment is called withdrawal, likely causing a person to feel sick, irritated and unsatisfied. Symptoms of withdrawal occur when a person stops using Xanax, and snorting Xanax may cause symptoms to occur earlier than usual.

Xanax Withdrawal And Detox

Snorting Xanax may speed up the process of dependence, and once a person stops using Xanax, they’ll likely experience symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe, and depend on how often and how much a person used Xanax.

Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal may include:

  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • blurred vision
  • concentration problems
  • depression
  • a headache
  • increased sensitivity to light and noise
  • insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • sweating
  • vomiting

If symptoms of withdrawal are severe, a person may need a medically supervised detoxification or detox. Medically supervised detox takes place in a hospital or inpatient treatment center and provides a safe and comfortable environment during the worst of withdrawal. The pain and discomfort of withdrawal and detox can turn a person back to using drugs, and medical supervision ensures the person will stay clean to get past the initial hurdle of addiction treatment.

Detox is not a cure for addiction but is often the first step of recovery. Following detox, a series of treatments and therapies are likely the best course of action.

Treatment for Xanax Use and Addiction

Snorting Xanax can lead to long-term dependence and addiction. When a person takes a prescription drug in a way that isn’t recommended, they’re showing signs of typical drug-seeking behavior and use.

People suffering from use and addiction are generally treated with a combination of medications and behavioral therapy. Currently, however, there is no government-approved medications for treating benzodiazepine addiction. But, behavioral therapy is the most common form of addiction treatment and is effective under the right circumstances.

Behavioral therapy aims to change a person’s thinking and attitudes towards drugs. The ultimate goal is to provide a person with the skills needed to remain sober after treatment. By developing healthy life skills to deal with stressful situations that often lead to relapse, behavioral therapy can help treat addiction in the long-term.

Staying at an inpatient treatment center is likely a good option for a person suffering from Xanax use and addiction. Inpatient treatment centers offer residential living for those receiving treatment, and will likely provide all the essential components of alprazolam recovery, including withdrawal supervision, peer support, and behavioral therapy.

Contact us today for more information on Xanax use and addiction.