Is It Possible To Overdose On Xanax?

Alprazolam, or Xanax, is one of many benzodiazepines used to treat mental health problems such as panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression. However, Xanax can be addictive and, if misused, can lead to an overdose.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam and is a prescription drug that doctors prescribe to patients who have mental health issues such as panic disorders or anxiety.

Benzodiazepines (sometimes referred to as benzos), in general, have been prescribed for those disorders for some time.

Xanax, in particular, treats anxiety by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

However, Xanax is highly addictive and can be misused, leading to a risk of overdose.

What Causes Xanax Overdose?

Alprazolam works on the central nervous system to reduce anxiety but has some side effects, such as drowsiness.

If Xanax is taken in a way that it is not prescribed it can lead to drug abuse and overdose that can even be life-threatening.

Some common causes of overdosing on Xanax include the following.

Mixing Xanax With Other Substances

One of the things that causes a Xanax overdose is if it is taken with other substances.

The following Xanax drug combinations could increase your risk for drug overdose:

  • alcohol
  • codeine
  • hydrocodone
  • methadone
  • oxycodone
  • fentanyl

Since Xanax depresses the central nervous system, taking it with other CNS depressants (alcohol) or that cause respiratory depression (opioids) poses a risk of overdose.

Taking Higher Doses Of Xanax

The powerful effects of Xanax on the central nervous system have given many people relief from the symptoms of anxiety.

For this reason, Xanax is highly addictive and poses the risk that people who take the drug will take higher doses of it.

But higher doses will only intensify the effects on the central nervous system and respiratory system, increasing the risk of overdose.

Common Symptoms Of A Xanax Overdose

A physical dependence on Xanax will lead to withdrawal symptoms if you miss a dose or try to stop use of the drug, ranging from moderate to severe symptoms.

Moderate symptoms of Xanax overdose include:

  • confusion
  • changes in or loss of consciousness
  • poor coordination
  • sleepiness

However, Xanax can also produce severe overdose symptoms, such as:

  • difficulty breathing
  • seizures
  • abnormal heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • hallucinations
  • coma

Risk Factors For Overdosing On Xanax

In addition to the causes of Xanax overdose, there are many risk factors that can increase the possibility of a Xanax or benzodiazepine overdose.

These risk factors can include:

  • metabolism: the slower it is, the longer it will take your body to get rid of alprazolam.
  • weight: people with higher weights may need a higher dose of Xanax in order to feel its effects.
  • age: Xanax affects older adults more acutely — the older you are the more susceptible you are to depression of the respiratory and central nervous system.

But it is worth reiterating that the most significant risk for Xanax overdose is polysubstance addiction. In particular, people who experience opioid substance abuse and misuse Xanax as well are at high risk for overdose.

Can You Reverse A Benzodiazepine Overdose?

In most cases, medical professionals treat a benzodiazepine overdose by treating symptoms and monitoring the patient until the drug has run its course.

These measures can include intravenous fluids and a breathing tube, if necessary.

If a patient experiences a more severe overdose, a doctor may inject flumazenil, which can reverse the overdose.

However, flumazenil comes with its own risks, namely seizures, so doctors do not normally use it.

Post-Overdose Treatment For Xanax Addiction

If you have experienced a Xanax overdose because of Xanax addiction, it is important for you to get addiction treatment.

Treatment centers can provide a variety of treatment options for Xanax abuse, including:

  • inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • medical detox
  • management of withdrawal symptoms
  • evidence-based therapy

While Xanax can treat the symptoms of anxiety, it can also mask its causes which can go unresolved without the kind of treatment that evidence-based therapeutic models can provide.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or your loved one need treatment for Xanax addiction but don’t know how to find a treatment program that is right for you, call our helpline.

At Bedrock Recovery Center on the east coast, we have many years of experience treating drug abuse, including Xanax addiction. We know how difficult it can be to break the cycle of addiction, but it is possible to do it.

Call us today, and start your journey to recovery.

  1. British Pharmacological Society
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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