Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

Xanax Overdose: How Much Is Too Much?

Key Takeaways

What Causes a Xanax Overdose?

It's possible to overdose on Xanax by taking more than your doctor prescribes. It's important to take Xanax as prescribed. This is because it's significantly more addictive than other benzodiazepines.

Typically, the oral tablet should be taken two to four times a day. The extended-release tablet is generally prescribed once daily, usually in the morning.

However, the correct dose of this medicine will vary for different people. If you or someone you know has overdosed on Xanax, immediately contact emergency medical help.

What are the Risk Factors Contributing to Xanax Overdose?

Several factors increase a person's risk of having a Xanax overdose. Here are some of them:

Polysubstance use

This occurs when a person takes more than one drug simultaneously or combines Xanax with alcohol. Mixing alcohol, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax), and opioids is risky. It can lead to respiratory arrest and death.


Developing a tolerance to Xanax means the body needs more of the drug to achieve the same effect. As a result, people take higher doses, which leads to an overdose.


The older the person is, the more pronounced Xanax toxicity is. Doctors usually prescribe lower doses of Xanax for people 65 years old and above.

However, most people do not follow their doctor's recommendation. They increase their dosage without medical supervision, leading to Xanax overdose.


Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

Xanax Overdose Symptoms

Taking too many benzodiazepines like Xanax can lead to uncomfortable side effects. These can range from mild to severe.

Mild symptoms of Xanax overdose are:

  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Slow reflexes
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements

A Xanax overdose can lead to severe risks, including:

  • Severe sleepiness
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Chest pain
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Death

Factors that Affect Xanax Overdose Symptoms 

Your symptoms will depend on several factors, including:

  • The amount of Xanax taken
  • Your body chemistry and sensitivity to depressants
  • Whether or not Xanax is mixed with other drugs

If you or someone you know has overdosed on Xanax, seek medical attention immediately. The quicker you receive it, the better. 

Get Professional Help

BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Rehab Together

What is the Lethal Dose of Xanax? 

Overdose is possible at any dose higher than your prescribed amount. However, the lethal dose of Xanax can depend on various factors, including:

  • Interaction with other medications
  • Interaction with drugs or alcohol
  • Age
  • Weight
  • How your body metabolizes the medication
  • Preexisting conditions, like a heart, kidney, or liver condition

What to Do if You Suspect an Overdose

If someone you or someone you know is overdosing on Xanax, immediately call for emergency medical help. Dial 911 if the emergency requires an ambulance.

You can also call Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). They can help anyone facing mental or substance use disorders (SUDs).

Another option is the Crisis Text Line, 741741. It's a free, 24/7 helpline that provides you with a trained crisis counselor.

Phone, Video, or Live-Chat Support

BetterHelp provides therapy in a way that works for YOU. Fill out the questionnaire, get matched, begin therapy.

Get Started

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

Treatment for a Xanax (Alprazolam) Overdose

Treatment for a Xanax overdose is available. However, it’s not always considered safe and won’t always work. That’s why the quicker you seek medical attention, the better.

A drug called Flumazenil is currently the only antidote for a benzodiazepine overdose. However, its use is controversial because it can potentially cause seizures and other dangerous side effects.

Aside from medication, a doctor will pump your stomach if you recently ingested Xanax. They may also give you IV fluid. A mental health evaluation and treatment might also be necessary if they deem the overdose intentional. 

What is Xanax (Alprazolam)?

Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medicine. It is a benzodiazepine that belongs to a class of anti-anxiety medications called anxiolytics.

The drug works by affecting the central nervous system (CNS). It enhances gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and produces a calming effect.

It's used to treat symptoms of:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorders
  • Depression-related anxiety

Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax is considered a schedule IV drug, which means it has a low potential for abuse and dependence. However, it can still be addictive.

Due to its calming effects, people who struggle with anxiety might abuse it. Although not everyone who uses Xanax will become addicted to it, long-term use can be highly addicting.

Even though Xanax is a prescription-only drug, people without a prescription are still able to get the drug. Xanax can be abused by swallowing or snorting it in high doses.

Does Xanax Interact With Other Substances?

Xanax may interact with other drugs that can make you feel tired. These drugs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Other sedatives
  • Narcotic pain medicine
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Seizure medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Heart or blood pressure medications

If you're taking other medications that may interact with Xanax, talk to your doctor.

Can Xanax Treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Xanax primarily treats anxiety symptoms and disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a condition characterized by excessive anxiety or worry for at least 6 months.

Xanax can help treat GAD symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest tightness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Insomnia

Side Effects & Dangers of Xanax Use

Like all medications, there are some side effects to taking Xanax. Some of these are more severe than others.

Some of the most common side effects of Xanax include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased energy
  • Agitation
  • Hostility
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremor
  • Muscle spasms
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Pounding heartbeats
  • Heart fluttering
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Addiction

Treatment for Xanax Abuse & Addiction

Addiction treatment is available if you, a loved one, or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or addiction (or is at an increased risk of overdose). Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. It’s best to navigate the road to recovery with professional medical advice and help.

Available treatment options include:

Get matched with an affordable mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Updated on February 6, 2024
10 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Alprazolam (Oral Route) Side Effects,” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Feb. 2021

  2. Alprazolam: MedlinePlus Drug Information,” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine

  3. An, Howard, and Jesse Godwin. “Flumazenil in Benzodiazepine Overdose,” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De L'Association Medicale Canadienne, Joule Inc., 6 Dec. 2016

  4. Carskadon, MA., et al. “Effects of Alprazolam, Buspirone and Diazepam on Daytime Sedation and Performance,” Clinical Drug Investigation, Springer International Publishing, 1 Jan. 1982.

  5. Effects of Xanax Abuse And Addiction On The Brain,” Vertava Health, 4 May 2020.

  6. G;, Jann M;Kennedy WK;Lopez. “Benzodiazepines: a Major Component in Unintentional Prescription Drug Overdoses with Opioid Analgesics,” Journal of Pharmacy Practice, U.S. National Library of Medicine

  7. Griffin, Charles E, et al. “Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System-Mediated Effects,” The Ochsner Journal, The Academic Division of Ochsner Clinic Foundation, 2013

  8. Isbister, Geoffrey K, et al. “Alprazolam Is Relatively More Toxic than Other Benzodiazepines in Overdose,” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Blackwell Science Inc, July 2004

  9. Longo, Lance P., and Brian Johnson. “Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines-Side Effects, Abuse Risk and Alternatives,” American Family Physician, 1 Apr. 2000

  10. Xanax (Alprazolam): Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Interactions, Warning,” RxList, RxList, 8 July 2020.

Related Pages