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Can You Overdose on Xanax?

It is possible to overdose on Xanax. Xanax is a brand name, benzodiazepine prescription. Benzodiazepines work on neurotransmitters in the brain in a calming way. Specifically, Xanax increases the availability of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, so with the use of Xanax, brain overactivity reduces, relieving anxiety. People often wonder if you can overdose on Xanax. It happens more often than people may realize.

What is Xanax Prescribed For?

Xanax is intended primarily as a short-term treatment for anxiety and panic disorder. Specifically, Xanax may be prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic attacks. It may sometimes be used to treat insomnia temporarily. Xanax isn’t ideal as a long-term treatment, because it has the potential to be habit-forming and it is a controlled substance.

How is Xanax Abused?

How is Xanax abused as a drug? There are various ways to use Xanax that are considered misuse. Misuse occurs anytime Xanax is used without a prescription or outside how a doctor instructs someone to use the drug. Other examples of Xanax abuse include:

  • Using Xanax only for certain effects like relaxation or euphoria
  • Combining Xanax with other substances, including opioids or alcohol
  • Crushing Xanax up to snort or inject it
  • Using large doses of Xanax
  • Taking Xanax from another person
  • Buying Xanax from someone
  • Doctor shopping or creating symptoms to get prescriptions

Teen Xanax Abuse at an All-Time High

What many parents don’t realize is that Xanax abuse is especially prevalent among teens, often because it’s easy to obtain. According to doctors who spoke to Pew Trusts, adolescent benzodiazepine use has skyrocketed in recent years, and more teens are being admitted to hospitals because of overdoses and also benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Health care professionals say the uptick in teen Xanax abuse is likely because more pills are prescribed to adults, providing teens with greater access. There’s also a perception among teens that benzodiazepines are safer than opioids.

Xanax Overdose Symptoms

Xanax is a central nervous system depressant that slows essential bodily functions like breathing and heart rate. If someone takes a dose of Xanax that’s more than their body can tolerate, they may overdose which can include respiratory depression, coma or death.

Along with overdosing only on Xanax, there’s also the risk of overdose that’s heightened when people use it with other substances. For example, according to the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of opioid overdoses also include a benzodiazepine like Xanax.

While symptoms can vary from person to person, Xanax overdose symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Changes in mood such as depression
  • Problems breathing
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Memory problems
  • Seizures
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Loss of consciousness

Knowing the symptoms of an overdose allows people to react faster when an overdose occurs since they’re already aware of the signs to look out for.

How to Protect Your Teen From Xanax Abuse

Prescription drug abuse prevention is a priority for many parents, particularly as people are presented with facts about the opioid epidemic and hear about the tens of thousands of people that die from overdoses each year.

While you can’t entirely protect your teen from prescription drug misuse, you can store any medications safely and securely in your own home. It’s also important to learn the signs of prescription drug abuse and watch for potential red flags.

If your teen seems to have a problem with prescription drugs, it’s essential to take proactive action to help them get treatment. Early intervention can prevent serious health risks but also lead to better overall outcomes.

To learn more about teen prescription drug abuse and addiction, contact Next Generation Village. A representative is ready to talk to you about safeguarding your teen’s future from addiction.


NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” March 2018. Accessed March 27, 2019.

Vestal, Christine. “Teen Xanax Abuse is Surging.” Pew Trusts, August 24, 2018. Accessed March 27, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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