The Dangers Of Snorting Xanax (Insufflation)

Snorting Xanax can damage the nasal cavity, throat, and lungs, making it difficult for someone to breath, smell, or swallow properly. Xanax insufflation also raises the risk of addiction and overdose.

Xanax is the brand name of alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication that comes in pill form and is meant to be swallowed. Generic alprazolam is also available as a liquid concentrate or a tablet that dissolves under the tongue. No form of alprazolam is intended to be snorted, yet some people crush and snort Xanax pills in the hope of producing a quicker, more intense effect.

Snorting powder of any kind is dangerous. The nasal tissue and tiny blood vessels in the nose are sensitive and vulnerable to harsh substances. Xanax and its inactive ingredients (fillers) can be damaging to the nasal cavity.

The dangers of snorting Xanax (insufflation) include:

  • Nasal tissue damage: Taking Xanax by snorting (insufflation) irritates and inflames the nasal tissue. This can cause nosebleeds and a chronic runny nose.
  • Holes in nasal cavity: Xanax can away at tissue to the extent of destroying the wall between the nostrils (septum) or wearing a hole in the roof of the mouth (palate). This makes it harder to breathe, smell, and swallow normally.
  • Irritation of the throat: Once Xanax is ingested through the nose, it does not stop there. The drug can drip into the throat and vocal cords. Irritation of the throat can cause soreness and a scratchy voice.
  • Harmful substances in airway: Xanax can destroy mucous membranes and hair (cilia) that prevent harmful substances from entering the airway.
  • Lung damage: If foreign objects such as Xanax or dirt enter the lungs as a result of a damaged airway, they can cause irritation. This may lead to a chronic cough and difficulty breathing, especially in individuals with asthma.
  • Disease: Snorting Xanax may involve paraphernalia such as rolled paper, hollow pens, or straws. If someone shares these objects, they share bodily fluid, which may contain diseases like HIV or Hepatitis C.

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Why Snort Xanax?

The goal of crushing and snorting Xanax is to get it into the bloodstream faster, where it can take immediate effect. When drugs are snorted, blood vessels in the nose absorb them directly. With oral consumption, Xanax passes through the liver before being distributed in the blood, which can take a little longer.

Xanax (alprazolam) targets gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain to enhance regulation of brain activity. It keeps the brain calm, which causes the central nervous system to slow down so the body can relax. Xanax is helpful in treating anxiety and panic disorders but is not meant to be used for symptoms of everyday stress.

Regardless, many people use Xanax as a form of self-medication, whether or not they suffer from severe anxiety. Others take more than prescribed to increase its effectiveness, which may require visiting several doctors to obtain additional prescriptions. Xanax can produce a sense of euphoria in high doses, which is another reason it is abused.

Does Snorting Xanax Make It More Effective?

With some drugs, snorting produces a stronger and faster effect. Xanax is not one of those drugs. It is fat-soluble, so it doesn’t dissolve well in water, which makes it hard for nasal membranes to absorb it.

Some snorted Xanax that drips into the throat may reach the stomach, where it is processed as if it were taken by mouth. It is likely, however, that someone would have to take a much higher dose in the nose to achieve the same effect as oral consumption.

Can You Snort Xanax XR?

It is possible to snort Xanax XR (extended release), but it can be very dangerous. The drug label warns against crushing, chewing, or breaking the pills. Extended-release formulas are created to gradually enter the body. Crushing and snorting Xanax XR causes it to enter the body all at once, which raises the chance of overdose.

Xanax XR tablets were made to prevent abuse and provide more extended anxiety relief. Since they are meant to last longer, the dose may be higher. The largest standard Xanax pill is 2 mg, while the largest Xanax XR pill is 3 mg. Taking high doses also heightens overdose risk.

The Dangers Of Snorting Xanax (Insufflation)

The likelihood of overdose is a significant danger of snorting Xanax. If someone abuses the drug by taking more than recommended, it can build up in their system. The body stores excess benzodiazepines like Xanax in fatty tissue so they can be used as needed. Overlapping doses prevent Xanax from being broken down and allow it to accumulate.

It is hard to say how Xanax will affect someone when taken nasally. While plenty of research has been done on the effects of Xanax when it is taken as prescribed, the results are less predictable when the drug is snorted. It is possible that the same dose of Xanax that is safe for a person orally could cause a negative reaction when snorted.

Many individuals who abuse Xanax also abuse other substances. Polysubstance abuse increases the risk of overdose and adverse reactions between drugs. Some drugs cause Xanax to take longer to break down in the body. Others (opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines) can cause overdose death by severely depressing the central nervous system when combined with Xanax.

Someone who abuses a drug like Xanax is more likely to develop a physical dependence on it. The more they take it, the more their body depends on it to work properly. Once physical dependence develops, a person may keep taking Xanax to prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Physical dependence often fuels addiction, a mental disease in which the brain craves Xanax as much as the body.

Signs Someone Is Snorting Xanax

If someone is snorting Xanax, they may act in ways that point to Xanax abuse and addiction. This may include the inability to cut back on Xanax use despite negative consequences to their life and health.

Other signs that someone is snorting Xanax and may be struggling with addiction include:

  • powder on their belongings
  • straws, empty pens, rolled papers
  • frequent runny nose or nosebleeds
  • multiple prescriptions from different doctors
  • Xanax pills in baggies or unmarked containers
  • loss of interest in social activities
  • financial difficulty
  • strained relationships

Treatment Options For Snorting Xanax

If someone is abusing Xanax through snorting (insufflation) they are at risk of developing addiction and dependence. Many individuals need the help of a medical professional to stop taking Xanax, especially if they are abusing it.

A person’s doctor may set up a tapering schedule that gradually reduces Xanax dosage until they are able to safely stop using the drug. Individuals suffering from Xanax addiction may need a medically supervised detox program to assist in the withdrawal process. These programs monitor people during withdrawal and keep them stabilized to avoid complications.

Once a person has successfully weaned off of Xanax, an inpatient addiction treatment program can work with them to prevent relapse. Addiction treatment may involve emotional regulation, coping skills, and various expressive and behavioral therapies. The best programs focus on changing the way a person thinks and acts so they can regain control over their lives.

U.S. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed - Label: Xanax - alprazolam tablet

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