As the rates of diagnoses for anxiety and related disorders continue to rise in individuals from adolescent through adult age, so does the number of prescriptions written for medications such as Xanax. People who’ve been prescribed this drug may be wondering, “Can you overdose on Xanax?” The answer is yes, it’s possible to overdose on Xanax. To avoid this, it’s important to learn how the drug works, the signs and symptoms of an overdose and how to get help if you’re dealing with substance abuse.

The History and Popularity of Xanax

For those who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders, a pill that alleviates their troubles in just a few minutes is a dream come true. Interestingly, Xanax was originally created as a sleep aid to help people with insomnia get more rest.

Xanax, also known as alprazolam, belongs to the family of drugs called benzodiazepines. These substances cling to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain and produce a calm, relaxed state in users. Xanax was created in the late 1960s, and after a series of administrative challenges, the drug was finally released in the 1980s. By the 1990s, it was one of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs in the world.

Today, an estimated 30 million people in the United States use benzodiazepines to treat conditions that include anxiety and panic disorders. Unfortunately, it’s also estimated that 4.8 million people abuse the substance and risk overdosing.

Why Someone May Be Inclined to Use More Xanax Than Prescribed

Xanax prescriptions are based on an individual’s needs, however, doctors generally tend to prescribe anywhere from 0.25 to 0.5 milligrams of Xanax to be taken several times per day. In some cases, a doctor may change the dosage to find the prescription strength that’s right for the individual.

While Xanax is fast-acting, it’s not a long-acting drug. This means the effects of Xanax tend to come on and wear off quickly. On average, Xanax users can expect to feel the drug kick in within a few minutes after consumption, and the impact might last several hours before dissipating. Someone might use more Xanax than they’re prescribed to make the euphoric feeling last longer.

Another reason for taking more Xanax than prescribed is to combine it with another substance for an enhanced effect. It’s not uncommon for individuals abusing Xanax to also use other drugs such as marijuana in an attempt to heighten the high or get relief from severe anxiety or other mental health challenges.

A person may also take more Xanax because they’ve built up a tolerance to the drug at their current dosage. Drug tolerance happens when an individual develops a resistance to a substance after continued use and the dosage is no longer as effective. A medical professional may adjust the dosage if a person shows a tolerance to their current Xanax prescription. These changes should only be made under the direction of a qualified care provider.

What Happens When You Take More Xanax Than Prescribed or Intended?

The effects of too much Xanax can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on a number of factors. When it’s taken alone, an over-consumption of Xanax can lead to drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, nausea and other unpleasant symptoms. In severe cases, overdosing on Xanax can lead to seizures and coma that can be fatal if not treated properly.

It’s important to note that overdosing on Xanax becomes much more serious when other drugs or alcohol are involved. A major reason mixing Xanax with other substances is so harmful is because benzodiazepines have a sedative effect. This means they relax the central nervous system and slow down brain function. Combining Xanax with other sedatives, such as Ambien or Klonopin, can cause your bodily systems to slow to dangerous levels and lead to depressed breathing patterns.

As with all drugs, there’s also a chance of addiction with Xanax. Signs of addiction can include:

  • Feeling intense cravings for Xanax
  • Continuing use regardless of negative side effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to reduce consumption or stop taking the drug

How much Xanax is too much depends on your health circumstances and the strength of your prescription. You shouldn’t take more than prescribed and should never take medication that’s not prescribed to you. Ultimately, you should follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your prescription and contact your provider if you feel your Xanax consumption needs to change.

Can You Overdose on Xanax, and What Should You Do If It Happens?

Yes, it’s possible to OD on Xanax. If you overdose, you may notice symptoms similar to the effects of alcohol intoxication.

Taking too much Xanax can quickly lead to a medical emergency, so it’s important to seek help right away if you start to experience shortness of breath or loss of consciousness. Try to recall details such as how much Xanax you took, any other substances you consumed and how much, if any, you’re prescribed to take. This information can help health care providers make decisions on the best course of action for managing your overdose.

Your immediate treatment may include receiving activated charcoal, a form of carbon that decontaminates the gastrointestinal organs when harmful substances are ingested. A less common treatment for a Xanax overdose is gastric lavage, or stomach pumping. Once your initial overdose has been managed, your care provider may refer you for additional mental health treatment.

Get Back to Being You

The first step in getting help is realizing you’re struggling with addiction. Asking “Can you OD on Xanax?” might be a sign that you’re not taking the drug safely. A Xanax prescription can provide support if you’re struggling with anxiety or a panic disorder, and it can be tempting to take more than what’s been prescribed to treat your condition. However, you risk overdosing and causing yourself lasting harm if you take more than you should.

You’re not alone when it comes to addressing Xanax abuse. At Sunlight Recovery, we’re ready to help you get back on track with your medication so you can get back to being you. Contact us today to start your journey toward overcoming substance abuse and addiction.