Using Xanax improperly or mixing the drug with other substances can lead to a potentially deadly overdose. The amount of Xanax it takes to overdose varies.

Article at a Glance:

  • Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine drug.
  • Because the doses for Xanax can vary widely, the amount of Xanax needed for an overdose can vary as well.
  • Mixing Xanax with other central nervous system depressants, such as opioids or alcohol, can increase the risk of overdose.

Xanax, a widely known brand of the drug alprazolam, is one of the most notoriously abused pharmaceuticals in America. As a result of its widespread abuse, Xanax overdose has become a very real problem, with alprazolam ranking consistently in the top 10 drugs contributing to death in the U.S. 

This powerful benzodiazepine is prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders by lowering abnormal excitement in the brain and producing a more relaxed, calm feeling. Dosages can vary significantly, ranging from 0.25 mg starting doses to 10 mg Xanax “bars” for severe cases. Given this variability, one can most certainly overdose on Xanax if consumed recklessly.

Can You Overdose on Xanax?

It is possible to overdose on Xanax, especially if you take it with another central nervous system (CNS) depressant, such as an opioid. Because Xanax overdoses can be fatal, it is important to be aware of Xanax overdose symptoms and risk factors.

What Happens if You Overdose on Xanax?

Xanax overdose can also occur if you take too much of the drug. Xanax overdose can be deadly, especially when the drug is mixed with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants like opioids or alcohol.

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines alter chemicals in the brain to prevent certain imbalances that cause people to feel nervous or anxious. In the brain, benzodiazepines enhance the effect of a relaxation-inducing chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Overdosing on Xanax and other CNS depressants increases the effects of GABA to the point of slowing breathing; in some cases, you can stop breathing entirely. 

If you find that your Xanax prescription is not relieving symptoms as intended, seek medical advice instead of trying to adjust the dose on your own. Whether you take too high of a Xanax dose or mix the drug with other substances, the risk of overdose death is real.

How Much Xanax Does It Take To Overdose?

The amount of Xanax needed to overdose can vary, especially when the drug is mixed with other substances. Most Xanax overdoses happen when Xanax is taken alongside CNS drugs like alcohol or opioids. Xanax bought on the street can also be counterfeit or cut with the opioid fentanyl, which can increase the risk of overdose.

When combined with the sedative properties of benzos, alcohol and opioids can create a lethal suppression of a person’s breathing or circulatory system. The FDA has a Black Box Warning about mixing benzodiazepines with opioids for this reason.

What Are the Symptoms of a Xanax Overdose?

Whether taking Xanax by itself or with other depressants, it is vital to be able to quickly recognize overdose symptoms in yourself or others. Most of these symptoms are due to Xanax’s CNS depressant effects. Xanax overdose symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness, slurred speech and mental status changes, which may occur due to the drug’s sedative nature
  • Slowed breathing, which can occur if the drug has been taken with another CNS depressant
  • Balance and coordination problems, which may be obvious when performing even simple tasks like walking straight and upright

No overdose symptom should be ignored. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical assistance immediately.

How Much Xanax Is Too Much?

Different doses of Xanax create different overdose risks for each person. For example, someone who is less tolerant of Xanax may overdose on a lower dose of the drug than someone who has been taking a moderate dose over a longer period of time. Again, combining Xanax with other CNS depressants can increase your overdose risk regardless of the Xanax dose you are taking.

Other FAQs About Xanax Use

How Safe Is Xanax?

Xanax, a prescription drug used for anxiety and panic disorders, is one of the most common medications in the United States. As of 2018, Xanax was the 37th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 20 million prescriptions written for it. 

Xanax is mostly safe when taken as prescribed, but it can be dangerous when someone combines it with other substances or uses too much. Knowing more information about proper Xanax use — including the dosage and recommended frequency — can help people to understand how much Xanax is too much.

Despite the benefits of using the drug, Xanax can also be extremely addictive. For this reason, benzodiazepines like Xanax are Schedule IV controlled substances. Regularly taking the drug can create a tolerance because the body becomes accustomed to the level of GABA produced. This tolerance means a person would require a larger dose of Xanax to achieve the intended calming effects.

Are There Different Types of Xanax?

Xanax and generic alprazolam come in different dosage forms and doses. These include:

  • Oral concentrate: At a concentration of 1 mg of alprazolam for every 1 mL of liquid
  • Orally disintegrating tablets: At doses of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
  • Short-acting tablets: At doses of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
  • Long-acting tablets: At doses of 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg

What Are Xanax Bars?

“Xanax bars” is a slang term for Xanax that comes in rectangular tablets. Xanax could come in many different forms; however, 2 mg Xanax tablets manufactured by Pfizer come in a white rectangle form with “XANAX” written on one side and “2” written on the other. These “bars” contain three score marks that allow the pill to be separated into four pieces, enabling it to be used for multiple doses in 0.5 mg increments.

What Is a Normal Dose Amount for Xanax?

Each person’s Xanax dose can vary widely depending on their needs and reasons for taking the drug. As such, it is difficult to generalize a normal dose range. For example, a common starting dose of short-acting Xanax is 0.25 mg when used for anxiety. However, the max dose of short-acting Xanax for anxiety is significantly more than that at 10 mg per day.

Is 1 mg of Xanax a Lot?

A normal starting dose of Xanax is 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg, but it may be up to 1 mg depending on what it is being used for. In unusual cases, people may be increased to doses as high as 10 mg per day, although this is not taken all at once. A dose of 1 mg of Xanax is a higher initial dose, but it may be a normal dose for people who take Xanax regularly.

How Often Can I Take Xanax?

The long-acting dosage form of the drug should be taken once daily, while the shorter-acting dosage forms may be taken more frequently. For example, when used for anxiety, some doctors may prescribe Xanax to be taken up to four times a day.

It is important to note that you should only take Xanax as often as your doctor prescribes it. Taking a higher dose than prescribed or using it more often than prescribed can increase your risk of overdose, physical dependence, tolerance and addiction. If your current dose of Xanax is not helping you, talk to your doctor to explore other alternatives — never adjust the dose on your own.

Xanax Overdose Treatment

Like most substances taken at toxic levels, benzodiazepine overdose treatment mostly depends on a case-by-case basis. Because slowed breathing, low blood pressure and slowed pulse are some of the major risks of Xanax overdose, medical professionals will often address these concerns first. In some cases, doctors may administer flumazenil, a benzodiazepine reversal drug. However, the use of flumazenil is quite uncommon due to the risk of seizures that this medication causes.

Find the Help You or Your Loved One Needs

You can avoid Xanax overdose and recover from your addiction with the help of the right rehabilitation program. The Recovery Village has helped countless men and women take back their lives from substance use disorders. With facilities located across the country, we can help you too. Contact us today to learn more about Xanax addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.

Jonathan Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Benjamin Caleb Williams
Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more
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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.