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Snorting Xanax: Side Effects & Why People Do It

Snorting Xanax: Side Effects & Why People Do It

Xanax is the brand name for the benzodiazepine called alprazolam, which is prescribed to people with anxiety and panic disorders and sometimes to people with insomnia and seizures. When taken as prescribed, Xanax is a safe and often effective medication for its designated purposes. However, because it does have a potential for abuse and addiction, many people have taken to crushing and snorting Xanax to get high. But can you snort Xanax? What happens if you do?


Why Do People Snort Xanax?

Xanax is prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Because of its high risk of addiction, however, it is usually used as a short-term form of treatment. Prescriptions usually only last 2 to 6 weeks, although dependency can develop within a couple of weeks.

Physical dependence on a drug refers to the brain’s and body’s increased tolerance to the substance and its effects. Dependence can occur with both prescription and illicit drugs and doesn’t necessarily mean the person is addicted to the substance. Even so, it’s advised that people who become physically dependent on drugs seek out medical detox to avoid severe withdrawals and continual drug use, which could lead to addiction.

Many people use Xanax recreationally because of the sedation and relaxation it produces in high doses. Xanax abuse occurs when the drug is taken more often, too long, or at a higher dose than prescribed or when it’s used without a prescription. People may try different methods of drug abuse to experience more intense side effects, with one of these methods being snorting or inhalation.

People crush and snort Xanax pills so they can experience a stronger or more intense high. Using drugs in ways they aren’t meant to be administered, such as snorting or even injecting them, changes how quickly side effects kick in and how much of the blood enters the bloodstream at once. The result may therefore be a more potent high than if they were to take the drug in high doses as they’re meant to be taken.


What Happens If You Snort Xanax?

Benzos, like alprazolam, work by interacting with the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which inhibits neural communication in the central nervous system. Xanax comes in two formulations - immediate-release and extended-release. While immediate-release Xanax kicks in fast and lasts around 4 to 6 hours, extended-release Xanax takes longer to kick in and lasts about 12 to 14 hours.

Crushing and snorting Xanax pills allows more of the drug to hit the bloodstream and make it into the brain than it would if it were taken orally as it’s meant to be taken. As a result, side effects like sedation and drowsiness are heightened and occur more rapidly.

With that said, the short-term effects of snorting Xanax are essentially the same as taking the drug orally. Though the effects may kick in more quickly when pills are crushed, and some of the extended-release coatings on the pills are removed during crushing, the duration of effects is more or less the same as normal abuse of the pill.


Common side effects of snorting Xanax include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Decreased saliva production
  • Loss of balance
  • Lightheadedness
  • Change in sex drive
  • Slurred speech
  • Hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Blacking out
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Psychotic experiences


The strongest side effects of Xanax may peak more quickly and intensely when pills are crushed and snorted. What happens when you snort Xanax also depends on the formulation of the drug that’s being used as well as how long the person has been taking the drug.

Snorting Xanax can also increase your risk of overdose because it allows more of the drug to hit your system all at once. This doesn’t give the body the chance to process it properly, increasing the likelihood of toxicity. Repeated abuse of alprazolam will also reduce the efficacy of the drug because the body develops a tolerance to it, which encourages increased use.


Help for Xanax Abuse

Comparing snorting vs. oral Xanax abuse, both forms of recreational use can lead to dependence and addiction. Because of the way the drug impacts GABA in the brain, long-term Xanax abuse can easily lead to an addiction that can be difficult to overcome without professional support.

If you or someone you care about falls into this category, our Stuart, FL rehab can help. We offer benzo detox and addiction treatment that address the withdrawal symptoms of drugs like Xanax, as well as the underlying psychological struggles that often come with addiction.

We believe that addressing withdrawals with the help of a medical team can not only make clients more comfortable during recovery but also decreases the risk of relapse and improves their chances of achieving long-term sobriety. We also incorporate psychotherapy in our Florida addiction treatment programs to ensure that patients are receiving the support they need to heal mentally as well.

For more information about our addiction therapy programs and services and how we can make sobriety possible for you or a loved one, call Banyan Treatment Center Stuart today at 888-280-4763.


Related Reading:

How to Spot Fake Xanax: Signs to Look Out For

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Xanax?

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.