Get Help Today. (800) 516-4357

Xanax Overdose: Signs & Symptoms to Look Out For

Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine drug that can cause an overdose when abused or used in combination with other substances. The signs of a Xanax overdose include extreme drowsiness, muscle weakness, slurred speech, balance issues, lightheadedness, slowed breathing and heartbeat, and coma.

Struggling with Addiction? Get Help Now

Quick Facts & Statistics About Xanax Overdose 

  • Nearly 50 million Xanax prescriptions are written each year.
  • Xanax overdose is more likely when the drug is combined with alcohol or another substance of abuse.
  • According to the CDC, from January 2019 to December 2020 there were 31,377 emergency room visits that were related to benzodiazepine overdose. Benzodiazepine overdose emergency room visits per 100,000 increased by 23.7 percent in 2020 —from 24.22 in 2019 to 29.97 in 2020. 
  • Benzodiazepines were also involved in 6,982 out of 41,496 overdose deaths (constituting 16.8 percent of the total) from the span of January 2019 to June 2020. This data was collected from reports received from 38 states and the District of Columbia.

Can You Overdose on Xanax?

Yes, Xanax can result in overdose if it is taken outside of the bounds of a prescription. Higher and more frequent doses are more likely to cause overdose, as is combining the medication with alcohol and other substances,  

Use of illicit benzodiazepines (particularly Xanax) is on the rise, and this carries a higher possibility of overdose. Xanax is now sold in a counterfeit form on the streets, often cut with drugs that are easier to acquire drugs, such as fentanyl. There have been many cases where counterfeit Xanax is seized by police, and it is found to have lethal amounts of fentanyl in just one dose. 

How Much Xanax Can Cause an Overdose? 

Xanax is often prescribed in 250 microgram doses (0.25 mg) to 500 microgram doses (0.5 mg), which is taken three times daily. Taking Xanax in excess of 3 mg daily can result in an overdose.

Mixing Xanax with other drugs and alcohol can cause an overdose as well, even if taking Xanax within prescription guidelines.

Signs & Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Overdose

A person who has overdosed on Xanax or another benzodiazepine may experience dry mouth, difficulty concentrating, headaches, irritability, joint pain, and intense drowsiness, among other symptoms normally associated with Xanax use.

If you believe you or someone you know has overdosed on Xanax, call 911 immediately.

There are more severe signs of Xanax overdose to look out for, which include the following:

  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Respiratory issues
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Risk Factors 

Certain biological factors, such as height, age, and weight, can increase the risk of overdosing on Xanax. For instance, those who are more advanced in age and have a lower BMI can overdose on smaller amounts of Xanax. 

People who have liver or kidney problems are more susceptible to Xanax overdose due to the fact that the body is unable to process the drug normally, which results in Xanax building up in the body.

Nutrition and hydration levels can also impact overdose probability. Those who are dehydrated and haven’t eaten can overdose on their normal dose of Xanax.

Again, mixing Xanax with illicit drugs and alcohol can increase the risk of experiencing an overdose. Using Xanax with other benzodiazepine drugs and opioids can exponentially increase the risk of overdosing. 

What Happens When You Overdose on Xanax?

Xanax is considered a CNS (central nervous system) depressant, which slows brain activity, causing the body to relax. When taking Xanax, an individual’s internal biological processes can be slowed or compromised, including their heartbeat and respiration. 

Xanax overdose occurs when an individual takes excessive amounts of Xanax, which the body cannot effectively break down. This results in a toxic accumulation of the drug in the brain as well as the bloodstream. 

Overdosing on Xanax can cause critical bodily processes to shut down, which can result in a variety of health emergencies, including coma or death.

What to Do if You or Someone Overdoses on Xanax

If you believe you or someone you know has overdosed on Xanax, call 911 immediately. The sooner you can get professional medical help, the better the long-term prognosis.

An overdose is a sign that substance use is out of control, and you need help. A comprehensive addiction treatment program can help you to safely detox off benzodiazepines and other substances. Then, you’ll address underlying issues that led to your substance abuse in therapy. As you build a new support system in recovery, you’ll have a solid foundation for a brighter future.

Profile image for Dr. Alison Tarlow
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated September 12, 2023
Take The Next Step Now
Call Us Now Check Insurance