Saturday October 25th 2014

Does Xanax get you high?

Yes.

Xanax can get you high.  Xanax causes euphoria in 0.1 – 1% of those who take it.

However, the main ingredient in Xanax, alprazolam, does not necessarily trigger euphoria.  And some people are more likely to experience a positive mood effect than others.  But is Xanax addictive? (yes)  Learn more about the pharmacology of Xanax and its effects on the central nervous system here.

Psychoactive ingredients of Xanax

What’s in Xanax?  The main ingredient in Xanax that affects the central nervous system is a benzodiazepine called alprazolam. Benzodiazepines slow down the central nervous system and are known as sedatives, or depressants.  Although the exact action of alprazolam on the brain is still unknown, experts think that this class of benzodiazepine binds at stereo specific receptors at several sites within the central nervous system to cause dose-related depressant effects.  And it is this action of alprazolam on the central nervous system that is associated with positive mood and other effects related to euphoria.

Xanax and euphoria

Although euphoric effect has not been documented as an adverse reaction to taking Xanax, feelings of intense well-being can be felt when taking Xanax.  But euphoric effect happens infrequently, and occurs in less than l/100 patients but at least l/1000 patients.

Additionally, it is possible that a certain population experience positive mood effect, while others do not.  Abuse of Xanax is frequently associated with adolescents and young adults who take the drug orally or crush it up and snort it to get high.   But Xanax abuse is particularly high among heroin and cocaine abusers, those who may be chemically and physically more sensitive to euphoric effect than the general population.

Xanax and central nervous system effects

Clinically, all benzodiazepines cause central nervous system depression effects which are dose related.  Effects from taking benzos like Xanax can vary from mild impairment of task performance to hypnosis, or a state of extreme relaxation and suggestibility.  Plus, benzodiazepines are associated with amnesia, hostility, irritability, and vivid or disturbing dreams.  Some of the more common central nervous system effects reported by people who take Xanax for anxiety or panic disorders include:

  • depression
  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • impaired coordination
  • impaired memory
  • impaired speech articulation
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • lightheadedness

How long do benzodiazepines stay in system depends upon the type of benzo you are taking, dosage and frequency of use.  Chronic use of benzodiazepines like Xanax can be detected in urine 4-6 weeks after last dose.  If you have just started taking Xanax, you should wait at least one day before a drug screen, although 3 days is appropriate for infrequent use.

Can you get addicted to Xanax?

Yes.  Psychological dependence is possible when taking any benzodiazepine, including Xanax.  And prolonged use of depressants such as Xanax can lead to physical dependence even at doses recommended for medical treatment.  But who is at risk of Xanax addiction?

In general, the potential of dependence on and abuse of Xanax (alprazolam) are similar to that of other benzodiazepines.  And the risks of Xanax addiction are related to both intention for use and mode of administration.  So if you are taking Xanax just to get high, in doses or ways other than prescribed, your risk of becoming addicted to Xanax increases.  Not to mention that you can die from Xanax.

The risk of psychological dependence on Xanax may also be more likely when you are taking doses higher than 4 mg/day.  Longer term use can also result in addiction.  Finally, the risk of Xanax addiction is increased for people with a history of alcohol or drug abuse.  To summarize, those at highest risk of Xanax addiction are people who:

  1. have alcohol or drug abuse history
  2. take Xanax long term
  3. take more than 4 mg of Xanax a day

Am I addicted to Xanax?

Getting high on Xanax is a form of Xanax abuse.  If you think that you have problems with Xanax, and are taking more than recommended, or are snorting, smoking or injecting Xanax…then you can get help to stop.  Please leave us your questions about Xanax and its use here.  We answer all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference sources: Abuse liability and clinical pharmacokinetics of alprazolam in alcoholic men
The pharmacology of alprazolam: a review
Daily Med drug info for Xanax (alprazolam) tablets
Prescription drug abuse and youth
DEA Drug Fact Sheet on Benzodiazipines
FDA approved Xanax XR label

Photo credit: M.V. Jantzen

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “Does Xanax get you high?
Zack
4:22 pm November 9th, 2013

So my bigger brother (17 years old) just started taking xanax for 2 week because he had some trouble sleeping, and he was caught smoking one day. Anyway he never sleeps after taking it and this one time he picked a fight with my mom (he didn’t touch her) so he would take 1 more pill so he took it from her hand and swallowed not 1 not 2 but 3 pills, so my dad started beating him and some pill fell. My brother while leaving he picked up a pill crushed it and licked it, we were all shocked and disappointed.

3:27 pm November 12th, 2013

Hi Zack. It sounds like there are certainly some family dynamics which could be driving your brother’s drug use. Have you considered attending family therapy to air out some issues?

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