Doctors prescribe Xanax in doses dependent upon various factors, but the benzodiazepine is generally administered orally as a regular or extended-release tablet or as an orally disintegrating tablet. Snorting Xanax is dangerous and can cause a range of side effects, including overdose.
Xanax increases a chemical in the brain known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which reduces anxiety and produces a sense of calm and relaxation. When taken as prescribed, the alprazolam is metabolized in the body and the effects of the drug peak about 1-2 hours later.
But when someone misuses Xanax, which is highly addictive, to achieve what is known as a “Xanax high,” they need excessive doses to reach their desired state. Some Xanax users will crush the drug and snort it in an attempt to speed and heighten its effects.
Snorting Xanax, especially the 2-milligram Xanax bar, makes people more susceptible to overdose. According to a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, a Xanax overdose may be more lethal than other drugs in its class. Therefore it’s important to be especially aware of signs of an overdose, which may include confusion, coordination problems, drowsiness and loss of consciousness.
In addition to the common side effects of Xanax abuse, such as confusion, depression and memory problems, snorting Xanax presents a whole other set of long- and short-term side effects.
Unlike medications in dosage forms that are intended for intranasal administration, alprazolam pills may contain inactive ingredients, such as cornstarch, that may irritate the soft tissue of the nose.
This irritation may increase the risk of:
Recognizable symptoms of nasal insufflation (snorting or inhaling) include:
Combining Xanax with alcohol and other drugs can compound these issues, increasing the risk of overdose.
Snorting Xanax works differently from snorting heroin or cocaine, both of which are water soluble and thus can more effectively travel through the nasal passage. A study of another benzodiazepine — diazepam — on animals in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics showed no significant direct nose-to-brain transport, which means that snorting was no faster than oral administration in getting the drug to the brain.
Nevertheless, the misconception that snorting the drug results in an accelerated high persists, so snorting remains a popular method of use.
The damaging effects of snorting Xanax go beyond the symptoms from the use of the drug. The route of administration, nasal insufflation, can damage the nasal cavity, sinuses and respiratory tract. Dr. Richard Lebowitz, rhinologist at NYU Langone, told Time.com that inflammation, infection, and airway blockages are often attributable to the particles in the powders that contain the active ingredients in a drug — in this case, alprazolam.
Snorting Xanax can create long-term health problems and intense withdrawal symptoms. Because of its short half-life and high potency, Xanax is highly addictive no matter how it’s taken.
Symptoms of withdrawal vary, depending upon the level and length of addiction and may include, among others:
Withdrawal symptoms — including seizures and psychotic reactions — can be life-threatening, so detoxing from Xanax requires professional treatment and rehab for benzodiazepine addiction. Detox is only the first step toward recovery. A treatment plan that includes a stay at an inpatient facility and appropriate counseling methods will put you on the road to recovery.
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