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What Are the Dangers of Crushing & Snorting Xanax?

Dangers of crushing and snorting Xanax include severe damage to the nasal cavity and respiratory system, an increased possibility of overdose, and a higher likelihood of addiction to the drug.

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Why Is Xanax Sometimes Abused Like This?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug that some individuals crush up and snort, much like cocaine. 

One of the symptoms associated with drug addiction is resorting to experimental means of using the drug in question. When it comes to Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs, some individuals end up crushing these drugs up and snorting them to experience their effects more quickly and more intensely.

Snorting Xanax: What Are the Dangers? 

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For many, snorting drugs is a preference that carries over to other drugs, such as Xanax. These individuals may have experience snorting other drugs, such as cocaine, and want to experience a similar intensity of effects with Xanax. 

However, Xanax is not a drug that is designed to be snorted. The primary method for taking Xanax is its tablet form. Because of this, an array of problems can occur with this type of use.

Snorting Xanax can lead to serious respiratory problems, nasal damage, and infection. Using the drug in this way also greatly increases the risk of developing an addiction to Xanax.

Why Do People Snort Xanax?

Snorting Xanax is a fairly strong indication that a substance use disorder is present. People may snort Xanax because they believe the effects are more immediate, and many enjoy the “rush” that occurs when snorting drugs through the nostrils. 

What Happens When You Snort Drugs?

When individuals snort Xanax and other drugs, it can cause significant damage to the nasal cavity. Whenever any sort of powder or debris is ingested through the nostrils, it can cause serious airway obstruction and result in lung infections. Snorting drugs can also bring about severe and recurrent sinus infections as well as nasal lining inflammation.

Many drugs are snorted with rolled-up dollar bills. This practice can also invite infection as there are tons of microorganisms that get transferred into the nostrils and can potentially cause infection.

Side Effects of Snorting Xanax

Snorting Xanax can result in a variety of side effects, which can be thought of in terms of short-term side effects and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Side Effects

Short-term side effects that may occur with snorting Xanax include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Limited concentration abilities
  • Poor memory recall
  • Painful urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation

Long-Term Side Effects

Long-term side effects associated with snorting Xanax include the following:

  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Increased aggression
  • Impaired sense of smell
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Shakiness
  • Numbness of the extremities (tingling of the fingers)
  • Respiratory issues
  • Throat irritation
  • Holes in the nasal cavity
  • Nasal tissue damage
  • Lung damage

Signs of Snorting Drugs

When someone is snorting Xanax as a method of ingesting the drug, they may frequently have a runny or irritated nose. People who snort drugs will often rub their nostrils to ensure there are no particles left in the area.

Since this is an advanced form of drug abuse, it is often a sign of addiction. Other symptoms of addiction include engaging in drug-seeking behavior, irrational behavior, suicidal ideation, inability to maintain work and social engagements, financial issues, and declining performance at work or school.

Dangers of Withdrawal Symptoms 

Since snorting any drug can increase the likelihood of addiction forming due to the potentially higher intensity of effects, withdrawal symptoms may be more severe when stopping this kind of use. 

Withdrawal symptoms from Xanax include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach problems
  • Muscle pain
  • Irregular sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory issues

It’s dangerous to suddenly stop taking any benzodiazepine after a period of sustained use. Do not stop using Xanax suddenly. 

Instead, consult a doctor who can design a tapering schedule that allows you to safely stop taking Xanax gradually. This reduces the likelihood of experiencing severe withdrawal and ensures your safety throughout the process.

Can You Overdose From Snorting Xanax?

Individuals who snort Xanax are susceptible to overdose, even more so than those who use oral tablets. 

Snorting Xanax can force the body to develop a tolerance very quickly, which often encourages users to use higher and higher dosage amounts. Using the drug in larger amounts can certainly increase the risk of developing an addiction as well as experiencing an overdose. 

Overdose is even more likely if Xanax is combined with the use of other substances, such as alcohol or opioids.

Crushing and snorting pills can potentially expose the individual to counterfeit Xanax. Fake Xanax pills often contain other drugs, such as fentanyl, which can exponentially increase the chances of experiencing an overdose.

Symptoms of Xanax overdose include the following:

  • Disorientation
  • Slurred speech
  • Intensely relaxed muscles
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Convulsions
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain

Overdose from snorting Xanax can also result in coma or even death, particularly when combined with other substances.

If you or someone you know has been snorting Xanax pills, it’s important to seek out effective treatment immediately in order to avoid serious trouble and health complications down the road. 

Updated March 21, 2024
  1. Snorting Benzodiazepines. (July 2009). The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
  2. It's Not Just Chocolate Powder. You Shouldn't Be Snorting Anything, Doctors Say. (July 2017). TIME.
  3. A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal. (January–February 2018). Journal of Addiction Medicine.
  4. Teen Xanax Abuse Is Surging. (August 2018). The PEW Charitable Trusts.
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