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Alprazolam, better known by its brand name Xanax, is a commonly prescribed anxiolytic medication. Alprazolam is a fast onset, short-acting medication used for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders.
Although Xanax is a commonly prescribed medication, it does have some fairly well-known side effects, even when used as prescribed. These effects may include:1,6
The incidence and magnitude of some of the effects may be greater with misuse. Very serious side effects that may be more likely when the drug is misused include:1,6,7
Xanax may also heighten the known risks of other medications such as opioids. For example, opioids are associated with a risk of respiratory depression, and taking a benzodiazepine like alprazolam in combination with this drug type can worsen this effect. In fact, a number of studies conducted on the concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines suggest that up to 80% of unintentional opioid overdose deaths may involve benzodiazepines.5
People may attempt to snort Xanax because they think it will enable them to feel the effects of alprazolam faster and more intensely than the intended route of ingestion allows. The crushed medication, when snorted, initiates a more rapid onset of the drug’s effects, greater potency, and a modestly increased abuse potential.8
There are many potential health risks associated with snorting any particulate substances, including crushed Xanax. These include:9,10
Also, because snorting Xanax can result in an amplification of drug effects,8 the potential for adverse events could also be greater (e.g., impaired cognition, profound sedation, accidents/injury, intensified respiratory depression with or without additional drugs on board, overdose, etc.).
Xanax is not one of the benzodiazepines that is commonly injected, mainly because it is not water-soluble and not easy to make into an injectable solution.6 However, some people do attempt to dissolve the drug in other solutions such as alcohol in order to inject it. Attempting to inject alprazolam can cause serious health problems for the individual, including:10,11
Many abusers of drugs will attempt to snort their drug(s) of choice in order to obtain a faster or more intense high. Some people will use one or more of these drugs in combination with Xanax. Other drugs that are commonly snorted, and could be used in conjunction with Xanax via an intranasal route, include:12,13
Some of the most commonly injected drugs, many of which may also be abused in combination with Xanax, include:12