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Xanax Bars: Dosages, Dangers & Risk of Addiction

Xanax bars are often broken down into smaller doses, so an individual can misuse the medication at regular intervals. 

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Like all benzodiazepines, Xanax abuse can lead to a variety of issues, including cognitive issues, coordination problems, and severe physical dependence.

As a result, regular Xanax abuse can quickly lead to addiction.

What Is a Xanax Bar?

Xanax is a popular sedative that is often used to treat anxiety and insomnia, but it is frequently abused. Consistent use can quickly lead to dependence, and abuse can lead to overdose and addiction.

Xanax bar is a term you may have heard someone use to describe a Xanax tablet. Xanax bars are rectangular tablets that can be broken down into smaller parts, often into quarters. 

Generally, each Xanax bar contains 2 mg of Xanax. When the bar is broken in half, the dose is then converted into two 1-mg pieces. Some people may break the bar into four 0.5-mg doses.

Why Use the Term ‘Xanax Bars’?

If someone uses the term Xanax bar, it’s usually an indication that they are younger in age and using the drug, or the individual is using the drug and acquiring it illegally. 

The term Xanax bar is slang, which is often a street language used to evade police and keep a low profile. Individuals looking to score Xanax bars may simply call them bars, zannies, or planks. You won’t ever hear a doctor or pharmacist use these terms to describe medical use of the drug.

Cultural Influence 

Xanax bars have taken their place in popular culture, and they are frequently referenced by young rappers and those in the hip-hop community. As a result, Xanax and Xanax bars have been glamorized in a sense, becoming an attractive drug to young people.

Any time a drug is popularized in music and other media, its abuse tends to increase. Since Xanax use can quickly lead to significant physical dependence, addiction can develop faster than it does with some other substances of abuse.

Age Demographics 

Although Xanax bar is a term often used in urban and younger communities to refer to Xanax (known generically as alprazolam), age demographics of people who are most likely to use Xanax are still quite varied.


Teens are at an increased risk for using and being exposed to Xanax and other benzodiazepines, particularly for their anti-anxiety properties. Teens may be prescribed Xanax by a medical professional or become exposed to this drug in social settings, such as parties. Rates of teens using Xanax have increased in recent years.

College Students

College students are another growing group of Xanax users, many of which get exposed to this and other prescription medications by peers.


Seniors also might use Xanax and other benzodiazepines for their sedative effects, especially seniors who experience irregular sleep patterns and insomnia. Since seniors can experience the effects of some medications more intensely than younger people, misuse of Xanax and other benzodiazepines can lead to various issues, including accidents and injuries due to poor coordination and muscle control. 

What Happens When You Take Xanax Bars?

Xanax bars contain higher doses of Xanax than standard tablets. While the effects will be similar to those experienced with any Xanax pill, they will be more intense due to the higher dose, particularly if a person takes the entire bar versus cutting it into smaller doses.

For example, when an individual takes a Xanax bar, it causes the central nervous system to slow down significantly. Immediate effects include reduced anxiety, less restlessness, and slowed breathing.

Xanax increases the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical in the brain that promotes calm, producing an overall relaxed feeling.

What Are the Side Effects of Xanax Bars? 

If you use Xanax bars, you may experience both short-term and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Side Effects

Short-term side effects of Xanax include drowsiness, problems concentrating, slurred speech, social isolation, muscle weakness, sniffling, constipation, diarrhea, and excessive sweating, among other issues.

Long-Term Side Effects

Long-term side effects of Xanax use include brain malfunction, which can result in poor mobility and lack of balance. Prolonged Xanax use, particularly at high doses, can cause damage to brain cells. It can lead to reckless behavior, depression, suicidal ideation, and other cognitive issues.

Dangers of Withdrawal Symptoms From Xanax 

The body can become physically dependent on Xanax very quickly with continued use.  Once you stop taking Xanax after a period of use, withdrawal symptoms can begin within 24 hours of taking the last dose. 

Withdrawal symptoms of Xanax can last anywhere from a few days to weeks or even months. In some cases, these symptoms can be very dangerous and even life-threatening, so it’s not recommended that you suddenly stop taking any benzodiazepine on your own.

Instead of stopping use cold turkey, a tapered approach to withdrawal is recommended. A doctor may switch you to a long-acting benzodiazepine, such as Valium, and then gradually lower your dose of that drug. Over the course of weeks to months, your body will slowly become accustomed to the lower doses, and this can prevent substantial withdrawal symptoms.

This tapered process ensures your safety and increases the likelihood that you successfully make it through withdrawal without relapsing back to Xanax misuse.

Can You Overdose on Xanax Bars?

Individuals who use Xanax bars in excess of recommended guidelines have an increased risk of overdose. As with any benzodiazepine, overdose is possible when taking the drug against recommended guidelines as well as in conjunction with other drugs.

It’s rare to overdose only from benzodiazepine misuse. It’s much more common for benzodiazepines to be found along with other drugs in overdose cases. Most often, the other drugs are opioids or alcohol. 

If overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical care.

Updated March 21, 2024
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