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.
Table of Contents
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.
As the brand name of the generic drug alprazolam, Xanax is considered a benzodiazepine. This is a class of psychoactive drugs that provide tranquil and calming effects for a person’s brain and central nervous system. 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).
Despite the benefits of using the drug, Xanax can 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.
Xanax should be used in a safe manner. Knowing more information about proper Xanax use — including the dosage and recommended frequency — can help people to understand how much Xanax is too much.
Overdosing 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.
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.
Xanax Overdose Symptoms
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. These 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.
Can Xanax Overdose Kill You?
Xanax overdose can be deadly, especially when the drug is mixed with other CNS depressants. Xanax overdose can also occur if you take too much of the drug. 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. The risk of overdose death is real.
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.
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 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.
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 in toxic levels, 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.
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.
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