Smoking Xanax | Effects & Dangers

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription benzodiazepine that is frequently prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. This medication does have a potential for abuse, and people who are addicted to Xanax will require a monitored drug taper to reduce dependency when they begin treatment.

The brand name medication Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine prescription drug. And, as with other benzos, Xanax is frequently prescribed by healthcare providers as an anti-anxiety medication for the treatment of various anxiety disorders and panic disorder.

However, Xanax is also a frequent target for drug abuse, both alone and in combination with other substances. This is likely because Xanax acts as a central nervous system depressant, relieves stress, and generates a false sense of well-being and intoxication in high doses.

Xanax abuse usually occurs orally, though some do attempt to misuse Xanax in other ways with varying levels of success and risk.

Smoking Xanax Pills

While the effects of Xanax can be quite potent and relatively fast-acting, many who abuse prescription drugs are looking for an even more rapid, intense, and chemically rewarding onset of effect.

This is why euphoric drugs like heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine, are so often smoked, as smoking can deliver various substances into the bloodstream faster than any other method of ingestion aside from injection.

However, Xanax tablets are not made to be smoked.

Even if the drug is crushed into a fine powder and heated, anecdotal evidence and the drug’s chemical properties suggest that much of the active ingredient will be burned off and lost in the process. Likewise, the resulting vapor is said to be very harsh and unpleasant to inhale.

Because of this, it is likely that Xanax is most often smoked after being laced into other commonly smoked or vaped drugs like cigarettes or marijuana.

Effects Of Smoking Xanax

In theory, smoking high doses of Xanax will both greatly increase and greatly shorten the effects of the drug, which may include:

  • enhanced GABA activity in the brain (an inhibitory neurotransmitter), resulting in central nervous system depression and sedation
  • feelings of relaxation
  • drowsiness
  • reduced anxiety or restlessness
  • muscle relaxation

Smoking Xanax may also increase your risk of experiencing adverse reactions, as well as the more common side effects of Xanax can include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • lightheadedness
  • depression or discouragement
  • headache
  • confusion
  • fainting
  • dizziness
  • impaired coordination and clumsiness
  • weakness
  • irritability
  • impaired memory
  • dry mouth
  • changes in sex drive
  • rash
  • slurred speech
  • and others

Dangers Of Smoking Xanax

Smoking Xanax, as well as other prescription medication and illicit drugs, can cause a wide range of negative short- and long-term health effects.

Increased Risk Of Overdose

Smoking Xanax may greatly increase the risk of experiencing a harmful or even life-threatening overdose due to the speed at which the full dose of the drug may enter the body and take effect.

This risk increases even more when Xanax is taken with other drugs of abuse, especially potent stimulants or other CNS depressants, or when cheap street Xanax tablets are laced with or faked with other substances such as the hyper-potent opioid drug fentanyl.

Specific signs and symptoms of Xanax overdose may include:

  • nausea
  • lightheadedness
  • heart rate and blood pressure changes
  • fainting
  • heart attack
  • respiratory depression (breathing problems)
  • and others

Increased Risk Of Addiction

Taken orally, Xanax is already known for its high abuse potential. And, anything that increases its effects will likewise increase the rate at which the brain learns to seek out Xanax again in the future. 

Along with other personality and behavioral changes, this is broadly referred to a substance use disorder or drug addiction.

Smoking Xanax may also accelerate the development of physical dependence, tolerance, and eventual withdrawal symptoms when you stop use.

Respiratory Issues

Smoking Xanax can do severe damage to your lung tissues and the delicate membranes inside it, increasing your risk of lung infections, reducing your total lung capacity, and potentially causing other conditions like aspiration pneumonitis.

This condition refers to a serious inflammation of the lungs caused by tiny particles left over from the drug or filler materials included with it.

Treatment Options For Xanax Addiction

Whether Xanax is being smoked, swallowed, snorted, injected, or plugged, the drug is associated with serious short-term and long-term health hazards, mental health issues, progressive memory and cognitive problems, and reduced overall quality of life.

Available treatment options include:

Xanax Addiction Treatment Programs In Ohio

Accredited rehab centers like Ohio Recovery Center offer a wide range of Xanax addiction treatment services designed to help those struggling with Xanax abuse.

To learn more about our treatment center, please contact us today.

  1. Journal of Addiction Medicine
  2. Journal of Adolescent Health
  3. Mayo Clinic

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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