Why are Young People Snorting Xanax?

Young people snorting Xanax

Why are Young People Snorting Xanax?

Table of Contents

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name of the prescription drug alprazolam. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines. These medications affect the brain and central nervous system to produce a calming effect on the body.1

Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan are other similar anti-anxiety prescription medications that can be abused.

What is Xanax Meant to Treat?

Xanax is prescribed by doctors to treat stress, insomnia, anxiety, and panic disorders. Because of the high risk of Xanax addiction, it is typically only prescribed on a short-term basis. Often, prescriptions are for 2-6 weeks, although dependency can develop within only a couple of weeks.1 Xanax abuse occurs when the drug is taken more often, too long, or at a higher dose than prescribed.

Common Street Names for Xanax

The street names for Xanax usually come from their size and brand. Some of the nicknames, such as Upjohn and Phannacia, come from the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax. Street names for Xanax include:

The prescribed method for taking Xanax is pill form. Tolerance, however, can happen rapidly. Tolerance is when the normal drug dosage stops producing the desired effect in the body. As a result, more medication is needed to achieve the same effect. With Xanax, 20 to 30 pills may need to be consumed to continue producing the same effect.

Why Young People Commonly Abuse Xanax

Xanax is popular among young people because it is easy to obtain. As a commonly available drug, many have access and may even be prescribed the drug by a doctor for anxiety. Many other commonly misused drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, are taken to promote a feeling of “high” or euphoria. Xanax abuse, on the other hand, occurs among young people because of its ability to produce a comfortable, calm, and tired feeling. Many report that recreational Xanax use promotes relaxation and a sense of sedation. This sedated feeling makes one sleepy, and they may even pass out for several hours.2

Why Do People Crush Up and Snort Xanax?

It is vital when using Xanax to take it in its whole pill form. The effect of the medication on the body usually occurs within an hour of consumption and takes about six hours to run its course.

Snorting Xanax is reported to have a faster onset in the body than in pill form. However, it still takes about an hour for its peak effects regardless of how it was consumed.

Side Effects of Snorting Xanax

Although the body can feel the effects of alprazolam faster by snorting the drug, snorting Xanax can also cause more issues for the nostrils. Many pills contain corn starch and other fillers, which can irritate the inside of the nose when the drug is snorted. This irritation can lead to a nasal infection, lung infection, or even a respiratory blockage.

Another Xanax side effect is the additional risk in operating heavy machinery or driving a car. These actions can be dangerous due to a decreased alertness and response time from Xanax use. There is also an increased risk of dementia with long-term abuse.

Snorting Xanax can cause the body to feel the withdrawal symptoms faster than taking the drug in its pill form. It can also cause tolerance to build up quicker, leading the body to require more of the pills and increasing the risk of overdose.

Dangers of Snorting Xanax

While any form of Xanax abuse can lead to potential side effects, snorting Xanax carries more of a risk for addiction and overdose.

Xanax Addiction

The body can become accustomed to Xanax and start to require it to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Because snorting Xanax allows the consumption of multiple pills, it can be easier for the body to develop an addiction.

Some signs of a Xanax addiction include:2

Xanax Overdose

Because the body builds up a tolerance rapidly and requires progressively larger doses, the possibility of overdose increases as well. Overdose becomes much more likely when the drug is combined with alcohol, opioids, or other drugs. Another danger is ‘fake Xanax’ that is sold on the street. These pills can have other dangerous substances in them, such as fentanyl, that can cause an overdose. Some signs of a Xanax overdose include:

Other Ways to Abuse Xanax

Medication should always be taken as prescribed. Like snorting, though, there are other ways that Xanax is misused.3

Chewing Xanax

Chewing the medicine breaks it up into smaller pieces, leading to a greater surface area of the drug. The smaller pieces are more easily absorbed into the bloodstream, making it affect the brain faster and all at once. Chewing Xanax causes a greater initial impact on the body as opposed to a slower and more steady release. Like chewing, “parachuting” is where alprazolam is crushed up and taken all at once. This method becomes more common as more medication is needed to produce the same effect.

Smoking Xanax

Sometimes, Xanax is smoked off another surface, usually tin foil. It is less effective than when taken orally, but smoking Xanax is generally used when mixing it with other drugs. Xanax powder is added to pipes or bowls of weed for an added effect.

Smoking Xanax off of tin foil can cause issues such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease because of the aluminum.

Shooting Xanax

To get around the time it takes to go through the digestive system, shooting Xanax uses a needle to inject the drug directly into the bloodstream. It is also sometimes mixed with other drugs to amplify its effect. Shooting Xanax can raise the risk of infection, especially when injecting with a used needle.

How to Recover from a Xanax Addiction

Recovery from Xanax is possible. There are several options for therapy and help:


Detox is the vital first step to recovery. The body needs to learn how to function without the presence of Xanax before other therapies can start.

Depending on how accustomed the body is to the presence of Xanax, stopping Xanax all at once (referred to as “cold turkey”) may not be the best option. It can lead to seizures and other severe health problems.

Xanax should be tapered off slowly under the supervision of a medical professional. From there, other forms of therapy can start.

Dual Diagnosis

Sometimes, Xanax addiction can mask other conditions, called dual diagnosis. Because Xanax is often prescribed to treat anxiety, it is important to find an alternative. Therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative medication can all provide vital help in the case of a dual diagnosis.


Getting the body used to functioning without Xanax is an important first step. However, it is not the end of recovery. Therapy can provide vital tools and help to avoid relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common treatment for Xanax addiction. Research has found it is effective when used alongside tapering off the medication.4

Inpatient/Outpatient Care

Whether inpatient or outpatient care is required depends on the individual. Outpatient care is usually sufficient for a mild addiction. However, cases of moderate or severe addiction might require inpatient care for additional oversight and support.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-9824/xanax-oral/details
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/xanax-addiction#detox
  3. https://www.addictioncenter.com/benzodiazepines/xanax/
  4. https://medicinainternaelsalvador.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/tratando-la-dependencia-a-benzodiacepinas.pdf

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