Can You Overdose on Xanax?

When you think of overdoses, you might primarily associate them with drugs that are illegal, such as heroin and cocaine. However, overdoses with prescription medication are sadly common. Those who take medication that has not been prescribed to them or don’t take the dosage as ordered by their doctor are at the highest risk of substance abuse and addiction. Xanax is a frequently prescribed benzodiazepine that has a high potential for abuse, leading to a possible overdose.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, meant to treat those who deal with intense anxiety, up to and including experiencing regular panic attacks. When administered, Xanax can give users a feeling of calm and relief that might be difficult for them to feel otherwise. Because Xanax is a prescription drug, people can overlook just how powerful it can be or that it has the potential for overdoses and deaths.

How Addictive Is Xanax?

Xanax should not be prescribed or taken unless it’s clear that both the doctor and the client are able to understand how potent it is. When appropriately used, Xanax can be one part of a mental health treatment plan that allows a person to come to terms with their anxiety. However, improper use can mean that someone needs Xanax in order to feel remotely normal. They might end up increasing their dosage without receiving the authorization to do so from their doctor. As a result, they could end up depleting their supply and not being able to get a refill as soon as they might like, leading to possible withdrawal effects. Xanax can be physically addictive, and someone going through withdrawal could have flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting and headaches. There can also be mental health side effects, such as feeling intense anxiety and being quick to get angry.

Recreational Xanax Usage

Though Xanax is only meant to be used as prescribed by a doctor, it’s commonly used for recreational purchases. People will take it in social settings in order to give them a high or to enhance the effects of other substances, such as alcohol. Without understanding how much Xanax their body will be able to handle, the dangers of mixing it with other substances, and taking it through dangerous methods such as snorting, the potential for overdose is greatly increased.

Mixing Xanax With Other Drugs

The vast majority of Xanax overdose deaths occur not from taking it in isolation but from combining it with other drugs. If someone uses Xanax while intoxicated with alcohol or high on opiates, their body can have trouble being able to handle the chemical intensity of the various drugs all at once. While they may expect and anticipate a stronger effect as a result of mixing these substances, they might not be prepared for just how intense it is, or the possibility that they could overdose.

Signs of a Xanax Overdose

Someone who is overdosing on Xanax will exhibit signs such as having breathing difficulties, being fatigued to the point that they can’t function properly, and having trouble moving in a coordinated manner. Any of these signs or a combination of them should be cause for alarm.

What to Do If Someone Is Overdosing on Xanax

If you’re around someone who’s showing symptoms that are indicative of a Xanax overdose, you need to get them help as soon as possible. Call 911 right away and tell the dispatcher about what has happened and what is happening with the person. Follow any directions that you’re given. If they aren’t breathing, you might need to perform CPR to resuscitate them. You should only perform CPR if you’ve received the proper training to do so. Make sure to stay with the person until medical professionals arrive.

How Xanax Overdoses Are Treated

The biggest priority when treating someone undergoing an overdose, from Xanax or any other substance, is to make sure they are alive. Resuscitation can allow them to resume normal breathing and keep them stable until more thorough examinations take place. The measures that need to be taken can vary based on the severity of the overdose. It might be necessary for flumazenil to be administered. However, this should be done with discretion, as seizures are a potential side effect of flumazenil.


After someone has survived an overdose, they need to receive an additional examination. If it’s determined that they’re a danger to themselves, they may need to be hospitalized. Otherwise, the decision is up to them. A doctor will need to examine them to see what sort of measures need to be taken in order to help the person addicted to Xanax and prevent further overdoses.

Getting off Xanax

Because of how physically addictive Xanax is, it’s not recommended for someone to try to get off of it cold turkey. Instead, they need to taper off it gradually with the guidance of a medical professional. This will help to control physical withdrawals and make it easier to adapt to life without Xanax. Since people commonly start using Xanax as a means of dealing with anxiety, a less addictive anxiety medication might be prescribed.

Psychiatric Therapy

Xanax overdoses come as a result of Xanax substance abuse and addiction, which comes as a result of Xanax dependency. In order for someone to overcome Xanax dependency, there needs to be an understanding of how a person has come to rely on it. A dual diagnosis treatment might be a necessity for treating Xanax substance abuse and addiction. First, the client’s dependence on Xanax will need to be addressed. Then, the conditions that lead them to abuse Xanax in the first place need to be looked at. Any therapist should have a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between addiction and mental health. They should also be able to develop a relationship based on trust with their clients, as there might be sensitive information shared during sessions.

Moving Forward

For anyone who has overdosed or has an addiction to Xanax, the most important thing is that they are able to receive the help they need. They might need to have an intervention. They also might need to enroll in an inpatient detox and residential treatment program. There might be hard times ahead, but they need to keep their mind in the present and recognize that they can conquer this situation.

Here to Help

At St John’s Recovery Place, we’re committed to giving our clients a new beginning. Our team of professionals can design a treatment plan that is conducive to the needs of you or your loved one. Please get in touch with us today so that we can determine what treatment options would be best for you.

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