Can You Overdose on Xanax (Alprazolam)?
Alprazolam (also referred to by its brand name Xanax) is one of the most widely prescribed benzodiazepine medications for treating panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorder.1 Although Xanax can be a helpful medication in managing the symptoms of these types of anxiety disorders, there is a high risk of both misuse and overdose.1 For example, in 2020 alone, 6.2 million people aged 12+ in the United States misused tranquilizers or sedatives (including alprazolam).2
This page will dive deeper into what the signs of a Xanax overdose are, what to do in the event of an overdose, and how to get help for Xanax misuse.
What to Do in Case of a Xanax Overdose
How Dangerous is Xanax?
When used as prescribed and under the guidance of a professional, Xanax can be beneficial for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder.1 However, Xanax is considered to be highly addictive and more toxic in overdoses than other benzodiazepines.1 In fact, alprazolam has been found to have the highest rate of emergency department visits related to drug misuse per prescription than other commonly prescribed benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin.1
Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act that works as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.4 The CNS consists of the spinal cord and nerves in the brain, which controls many processes including breathing, heart rate, and emotion.5 Consuming too much Xanax affects brain activity, which can lead to serious adverse effects, especially when combined with other CNS depressants like alcohol and opioids.4
Because of its anxiety-relieving and euphoric effects, Xanax has a high misuse liability, which can lead to an overdose.1 Additionally, dependence may develop if Xanax is used in high doses and for long durations of time, which can eventually lead to addiction.6
Signs and Symptoms of a Xanax Overdose
There are certain signs that may indicate a person is experiencing a Xanax overdose. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a Xanax overdose can help the person overdosing get the medical assistance that they need.
Signs and symptoms of a Xanax overdose can include, but are not limited to:7
- Slurred speech.
- Loss of control of bodily movements.
- Altered mental status/confusion.
- Comatose state.
Symptoms can vary from person to person based on specific factors, such as dosage, weight, tolerance, genetics, age, and other substances ingested.7 If you suspect someone is overdosing on Xanax, call 911 immediately.
How Taking Other Drugs With Xanax Can Cause Overdose
Taking two or more substances together, also known as polysubstance use, is extremely dangerous.8 Xanax in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol can be especially harmful because the effects can be much stronger and more unpredictable than the effects of just one substance alone.8 Taking Xanax and other drugs at the same time can lead to potentially fatal symptoms including:7,8
- Respiratory depression.
- Compromised airway.
Xanax ingested alone is rarely enough to be fatal. Xanax misuse in combination with other drugs such as opioids and alcohol, however, could lead to death if not managed appropriately.9 Do not consume alcohol or other drugs with Xanax, as it increases the likelihood of life-threatening side effects.6
Furthermore, Xanax that is illicitly purchased on the streets can often contain other substances (such as fentanyl) unbeknownst to the buyer, which can be extremely dangerous.3 Laced illegal Xanax pills can increase the risk of overdose and death.3
Alprazolam is one of the top three prescription drugs found on the illicit market.4 Do not purchase any type of prescription medication (including Xanax) from an illegal source. The pill may be laced with other substances, unknown to the seller and buyer, increasing overdose risk.
Xanax Withdrawal and Detox
Even when using Xanax at the recommended dose for treatment of mental disorders, there is risk of dependence.10 Dependence occurs when your body has adapted to Xanax and requires it to function normally.11 Without the drug, the body can experience uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms, known as withdrawal.10
Xanax can have more severe withdrawal symptoms than other benzodiazepines.1 Withdrawal symptoms may develop within several hours to a few days after the reduction or abrupt cessation of Xanax consumption.12 Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include but are not limited to:10,12
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Tachycardia (high pulse rate).
- Visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations or illusions.
- Psychomotor agitation.
Rapidly decreasing the Xanax dose or abruptly stopping the medication altogether can lead to acute withdrawal and be extremely dangerous.6 Without the proper care, Xanax withdrawal can be fatal.6 As a result, your physician may recommend entering a medical detox program. Medical detox, like the program offered at Recovery First, provides a comfortable environment to safely detox under 24/7 supervision by a trained staff of doctors and nurses.
Many people don’t stop at detox and move on to other levels of addiction treatment after they have finished detoxing. Inpatient and outpatient programs after detox use evidence-based therapies to address the underlying causes driving one’s addiction.
Consult your physician or a medical professional before taking any steps to discontinue or reduce using Xanax. Do not attempt to manage your Xanax intake or any withdrawal symptoms alone.
Get Help for Xanax Misuse
It is recommended to seek professional help when detoxing from Xanax or any other benzodiazepine medication.9 Recovery First is an industry accredited drug rehab near Miami, FL that has supported thousands with their addiction recovery.
If you suspect that you or a loved one could have a Xanax addiction, get help now by calling and speaking with Recovery First’s admissions navigators who are available 24/7. They will walk you through the rehab admissions process, how to pay for treatment, and insurance coverage for rehab.
Do not wait any longer. Get started on your recovery today and verify your insurance by filling out our