man struggling with overdose on xanax, xanax abuse and addiction treatment, xanax detox

Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression. While Xanax is a Schedule IV drug with a low potential for abuse or risk of dependence, misuse of it can result in Xanax addiction, overdose, and death.

Understanding Xanax Misuse, Abuse, and Overdose

Medical professionals typically prescribe Xanax (Alprazolam) for individuals with panic disorders or anxiety disorders. Xanax works by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which calms the nervous system and produces sedative effects. Benzodiazepines (Benzos), like Xanax or Valium, are depressants that provide sedation and hypnosis for individuals with anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures.

This anxiety medication is primarily for short-term management of anxiety and panic disorders. However, in higher doses or when combined with other substances, Xanax does hold the potential for dependency, withdrawal symptoms, and overdose.

man struggling with mental health and overdose on xanax

When Xanax is used without a prescription or in higher doses than prescribed, there are several potential risks and side effects, including:

  • Dependence and addiction
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Overdose
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Mental health issues
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Memory problems

Alprazolam’s psychodynamic properties contribute to it being a highly addictive drug with limited clinical usefulness. Especially for individuals with a history of substance abuse or who are currently misusing a substance, these side effects and risks can significantly exacerbate.

Identifying the Risk Factors of Xanax Overdose

Many individuals who take Xanax, whether it’s prescribed by a healthcare professional or unprescribed, are unaware of the severe side effects and lethal overdose risk. Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, with over 34.6 million alprazolam prescriptions having been disbursed in 2021 in the United States. There has been a substantial increase in drug trafficking and abuse of Xanax and other benzodiazepines in recent years, increasing the risk of addiction and overdose. Studies show that alprazolam is potentially more toxic than other benzodiazepines when it comes to overdose risks.

High Dosages

The maximum recommended dosage for alprazolam (Xanax) is 4 mg daily, occasionally reaching up to 10 mg for some instances. Taking a higher dosage of benzodiazepines, like Xanax, than prescribed can result in adverse side effects and risks, including coma, respiratory depression, and death. Especially the illicit use of alprazolam can cause respiratory depression, central nervous system (CNS) depression, loss of motor coordination, memory loss, and blackouts. Recreational use of Xanax is often combined with other substances like alcohol, opioids, and cocaine, heightening side effects and the risk of overdose.

Mixing with Other Substances

Most healthcare professionals will recommend against cross-mixing substances when prescribed certain medications. For individuals taking alprazolam (Xanax) for anxiety or panic disorder, there’s a range of interactions that users should be aware of before taking it.

Alprazolam interactions include:

  • Alcohol
  • Opioids
  • Other CNS depressants: Valium or Klonopin (benzos), phenobarbital (barbiturates), and Ambien or Lunesta (sleeping medications)
  • Clarithromycin (medication for bacterial infections)
  • Carbamazepine (medication for bipolar disorder or seizures)
  • Ritonavir-containing medications (medication for HIV)
  • Oral ketoconazole and itraconazole (Sporanox)

Many individuals tend to drink alcohol while taking medications, even when advised not to. Mixing these substances with Xanax can lead to severe side effects and symptoms, raising the risk of overdose from Xanax.

mixing xanax and alcohol

Tolerance Development

Long-term use of Xanax can lead to tolerance development and physical dependence, which ultimately reduces the effectiveness of the medication. Users will typically require a higher dose to receive the same therapeutic effects, whether from a healthcare professional or illegally. Developing a high tolerance to benzodiazepines can be dangerous, carrying a significant risk of misuse, addiction, and overdose on Xanax.

Previous Substance Abuse

Individuals with a history of substance abuse or addiction are at an increased risk for abusing Xanax. Addictive behaviors that may not have been fully treated or addressed in the past can facilitate Xanax misuse and potential addiction. Some users may not fully understand the risks of Xanax abuse, leading to negative interactions, overdose, coma, and death.

Unprescribed Use of Xanax

Taking Xanax without a prescription from a healthcare professional or in higher doses than prescribed significantly raises the risk of Xanax-related overdose. Before prescribing Xanax, doctors address patients’ medical history and present conditions to administer the appropriate dosage. Individuals without a Xanax prescription are often unaware of how much Xanax is too much for them to take, leading to adverse effects and potential overdose.

Mental Health Conditions

Individuals with a Xanax prescription typically use it to treat anxiety disorders or panic disorders. Some people might experience severe anxiety or panic attacks, leading them to take more than the doctor directed. While their intention might not be to abuse Xanax, this can lead to a potential overdose or exacerbate the side effects. Individuals taking recreational Xanax may not be aware of the interactions between Xanax and alcohol or opioids, potentially resulting in severe drowsiness and respiratory depression.

Many individuals may use Xanax to curb negative emotions or stress, leading to a dangerous cycle of self-medication for coping. Since alprazolam is a depressant, someone who struggles with low mood or major depressive disorder (MDD) may see their symptoms exacerbate, causing severe depression and potentially suicidal thoughts.

Lack of Awareness

Even individuals with a Xanax prescription may be unaware of the potential side effects and risks of alprazolam. Someone who doesn’t understand the severe risks and side effects of Xanax might mix it with other substances, take a higher dose than prescribed, or consume Xanax illicitly. This lack of awareness can result in overdose, coma, and even death.

Overdose Prevention: Treatment for Xanax Abuse and Addiction

Although Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription benzodiazepine, many healthcare professionals have reported a higher misuse liability along with more severe withdrawal symptoms than other benzos. A study had labeled alprazolam the second most common prescription and benzodiazepine to be involved with drug misuse and emergency care visits.

Recognizing the potential for misuse and addiction to Xanax is critical for individuals to take the necessary safety precautions with benzodiazepines. Xanax misuse can lead to physical dependence and tolerance to the medication, potentially leading to a substance use disorder (SUD) and a fatal overdose of Xanax. Alprazolam (Xanax) should not be taken unless prescribed by a healthcare professional for safe and legal practices.



For detox treatment for Xanax addiction and abuse, reach out today. Coastal Detox offers Xanax detox programs in Stuart, FL.