Updated on February 6, 2024
7 min read

What Happens When You Snort Xanax?

Key Takeaways

Can You Snort Xanax?

While nasal administration may be beneficial for certain medications, it’s not the case for Xanax. Because of the drug’s chemical composition, snorting it is unlikely to have any significant euphoric effect.

Snorting any medication intended for oral use (like Xanax) increases the risk of addiction. It may also induce allergic reactions in the nasal passage.

Snorting Xanax provides a faster high because the substance reaches the blood faster. However, snorting Xanax is dangerous. 

Snorting Xanax increases the risk of the following: 

  • Nasal cavity damage, including perforation of the nasal septum
  • Irritation inside of the nose
  • Increased risk of nasal infections
  • Lung infections
  • Overdose
  • Dependence

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Does Snorting Xanax Increase Overdose Risk?

Snorting Xanax increases the risk of overdose. This is because it’s common to take a larger dose than intended when snorting the drug. 

This risk of overdose also increases as a user builds tolerance due to the time it takes for the effects to kick. Someone with a high tolerance is more likely to take a dangerously higher dose than someone with low tolerance.

Signs of Xanax Overdose

Warning signs of Xanax overdose include:

  • Confusion
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Hallucinations 
  • Seizures
  • Coma

In addition to tolerance, polysubstance use is another lethal factor that increases the risk of overdose. This is when a person takes more than one drug simultaneously.5 

Studies have shown that combining Xanax with alcohol can affect the ability of brain signals to reach respiratory organs such as the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing. 

In serious cases, a person’s breathing can stop altogether, resulting in suffocation and death. The risk of death also occurs when Xanax is mixed with opioid medications or sedatives.6

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Side Effects of Snorting Xanax

The immediate effects of snorting Xanax include:

  • Feeling drowsy and lightheaded
  • Poor concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth (due to decreased saliva production)
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Fatigue

Severe effects of snorting Xanax include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Memory issues
  • Urination problems
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Change in sex drive

What Happens to Your Body When You Snort Xanax?

The pleasant effects of Xanax on the central nervous system may lead to physical addiction. 

When snorted, Xanax works quickly on specific brain receptors to enhance GABA activities. When active, this neurotransmitter induces calmness and relaxation. 

The risk of developing a physiological dependency on Xanax rises when you build a tolerance to the drug. This is when the body feels as though it needs Xanax to function correctly. 

And when the body becomes reliant on Xanax, suddenly discontinuing (cold turkey) or lowering the dosage may result in withdrawal symptoms. Even a brief period of Xanax misuse can result in drug tolerance. 

What Happens to Your Mind When You Snort Xanax?

Snorting Xanax may result in euphoria or being “high,” poor concentration, and hallucinations. 

Xanax misuse can also have severe and possibly dangerous effects on the brain, including decreased motor function and low blood pressure.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), chronic Xanax users will likely experience short-term memory loss. This is considered a severe side effect that needs immediate medical attention.4

Taking Xanax in large doses or abusing it for a prolonged period increases the risk of long-term effects on mood, behavior, and cognitive function. It also increases the risk of overdose and severe dependency.

What is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. It’s the most commonly prescribed anxiety medication in the United States.1 

Xanax works by balancing the chemicals in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This results in a relaxing and calming feeling.2

When used appropriately, Xanax can be effective in mental health treatment. However, Xanax misuse can lead to physical dependence or addiction.

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Is Xanax Addictive?

Even when taken as recommended, chronic Xanax use may lead to physical and psychological dependence. 

When the effects of the medication begin to wear off, users may suffer withdrawal symptoms. If not followed by another dosage, severe dependence may make addiction symptoms intolerable. 

Symptoms of Xanax addiction include:

  • Taking higher doses than recommended
  • Frequent snorting
  • Withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop
  • Inability to quit even when you intend to
  • Severe cravings or urges to snort
  • Neglecting essential obligations at work, school, or home
  • Continued use despite physical and mental problems
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Risky behavior, such as snorting Xanax and operating machinery
  • Recurring infections of the nasal passage
  • Sweating
  • Acute anxiety
  • Convulsions

Dependence and addiction worsen over time and may have severe health implications if not addressed. Seeking expert assistance is the most efficient strategy in avoiding the long-term consequences of Xanax misuse.

Treatment Options for Xanax Addiction

Many of the side effects of Xanax addiction, including short-term memory loss, may be reversible and can improve with time. 

Although the mental effects of Xanax addiction may be permanent, the brain is also a sophisticated organ that can often recover with appropriate treatment. 

Medical Detox

For many people seeking treatment for Xanax addiction, the initial step is to enroll in a medical detoxification program

Xanax withdrawal can be dangerous without medical assistance. Medical detox treatments are often included to assist patients in a safe transition to a drug-free life.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment provides a homelike setting for extended periods (usually 30 to 90 days). 

People in recovery are temporarily housed in a treatment center and attend daily therapy sessions. They may also provide dietary counseling, meditation, fitness classes, and other forms of therapy.

Outpatient treatment

Outpatient care is a step down from inpatient care. Some people with less serious addictions may choose outpatient therapy as their primary recovery method. 

People in outpatient programs live at home rather than at a facility. They have more time to attend to personal responsibilities such as work or school.

Other successful treatments provided by inpatient programs include dual-diagnosis programs and behavioral therapy or counseling.7 

Xanax Detox and Withdrawal Timeline 

Stopping Xanax cold turkey can lead to severe side effects. This is why medically-assisted detoxification is recommended.

This process manages withdrawal symptoms while the body clears the medication until full recovery.

Withdrawal symptoms of Xanax include:

  • Irritability
  • Trembling or spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches 
  • Psychosis
  • Convulsions
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Possible death

Because Xanax has an 11-hour half-life, it takes 50 hours to remove it from the body entirely.8 This is relatively fast compared to other benzodiazepines. For this reason alone, withdrawal symptoms set in more quickly.

How to Taper Off Xanax

Tapering off Xanax is the recommended technique used by treatment and rehabilitation facilities throughout the country. This process involves gradually decreasing the dose of Xanax until the person isn’t using it anymore.9 

Tapering is meant to do two things for Xanax users:

  • Lessen withdrawal symptoms
  • Re-adapt the body to how it was before taking Xanax

As one would expect, this process does not happen overnight. It requires careful preparation and organized supervision.

Since the detox process depends on whether the drug is still in the body, detox may take several months. However, some people may be able to taper off more quickly when they attend addiction therapy.

What is the Correct Way to Take Xanax? 

Benzodiazepines like Xanax should be taken as directed by your physician and according to the medication guide that comes with it. 

You should not take a higher dose at once or take it more often or longer than prescribed.

When taking the Xanax tablet, remember the following:

  • Swallow it whole with a glass of water
  • Breaking, chewing, crushing, and snorting the tablet is not recommended 
  • If you’re taking an orally disintegrating tablet, ensure your hands are completely dry before handling it 
  • Remove the pills from the bottle only when you are ready to consume them 
  • Place the capsule on top of your tongue right away. It should rapidly melt and be swallowed with saliva
  • Use a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medication cup to measure the dosage if you’re using the oral liquid version of Xanax


Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine that can be addictive. Tapering off Xanax may take several months, but it is possible with careful preparation and supervision. 

If you or a loved one is addicted to Xanax, seek professional help to detox from the drug safely.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Drug Fact Sheet: Benzodiazepines.” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  2. Effects of Oral Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Administration on Stress and Sleep in Humans: A Systematic Review” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2020.
  3. A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2018.,
  4. The Effect of Chronic Alprazolam Intake on Memory, Attention, and Psychomotor Performance in Healthy Human Male Volunteers.” National Institute of Health, 2016.
  5. The Polysubstance Overdose-Death Crisis,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2020.
  6. Opioid Basics.”  Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  7. Understanding Dual Diagnosis.” National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 2017.
  8. XANAX® alprazolam tablets, USP.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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