Can you die from taking Xanax?

Yes, you can die from taking Xanax, especially if it’s taken with other drugs or alcohol. Read more about this commonly abused drug here.

3
minute read

Yes. Taking too much Xanax can kill you, although it is difficult to overdose and die from Xanax. In fact, Xanax is known to be a relatively safe drug at high doses.

Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication often prescribed for its fast-acting effects on anxiety and panic disorders, but it’s also habit-forming and is frequently abused for its tranquilizing effects.  Can you get high on Xanax?  Yes, in some cases.  However, Xanax is most dangerous when combined with other drugs, which is why recreational use can be so dangerous.

When taken as prescribed, Xanax is a very safe medication.  Can you become addicted to Xanax?  Again, yes.  But Xanax does not usually promote drug-seeking addictive behaviors or dose escalation. More on the dangers, signs and treatments for Xanax overdose here.

Dangers of Xanax ingredients

The active ingredient in Xanax is alprazolam, a benzodiazepine medication. Xanax works directly on the brain to calm unusual activity, and so it can impact breathing, muscle control, energy, mood, and more. More serious side effects are usually the result of mixing Xanax with alcohol or other drugs. Because it’s possible to build a tolerance to Xanax, overdose in recreational users is possible.

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Systems affected by Xanax

Xanax impacts the central nervous system. This causes users to become drowsy and sometimes confused, clumsy, or disoriented. One of the major risks of Xanax use is the risk of automobile or machinery accidents. So you can die from taking Xanax not because of the medicine’s effect on your body, but because of your own decreased alertness and response time.

Serious adverse side effects of Xanax

While most people can take Xanax safely with few side effects, some people have dangerous adverse reactions. The risk of adverse effects goes up drastically when Xanax is combined with other drugs or taken in large doses. Some serious side effects of alprazolam can include:

  • agitation
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • decreased inhibitions
  • depression
  • difficulty controlling muscle movements
  • hallucinations
  • heart palpitations
  • hostile behavior
  • risk-taking behaviors
  • seizure
  • thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • tremors

Signs of Xanax overdose

It is possible to take too much Xanax, especially when it’s combined with other depressant medications and drugs. Victims of Xanax overdose may collapse or stop breathing, at which point they need to receive immediate medical care. Symptoms of overdose are similar to the normal side effects of Xanax, but more pronounced. They may include:

  1. confusion
  2. coordination problems
  3. drowsiness
  4. loss of consciousness

How to treat Xanax overdose

Care for a Xanax overdose is generally supportive. Doctors will monitoring breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. The stomach will need to be pumped immediately. IV fluids will be provided to prevent dehydration, and oxygen will be provided as needed. In some cases, medication may be administered to counteract the effects of the Xanax.

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Help for Xanax use or misuse

The good news is that, while Xanax does have unpleasant and sometimes dangerous withdrawal effects for chronic users, it is relatively easy to get off Xanax by tapering the dosage. If you want to stop taking Xanax, talk to your doctor about a tapering schedule to make the transition as easy as possible. Medically supervised detox is always recommended when you stop taking a drug you are physically dependent on. Or, if you think that your use may indicate addiction, ask your doctor for more information about residential or outpatient addiction treatment centers.

Your questions about taking Xanax, its addiction potential or dangers are welcomed here.

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Reference Sources: FDA Approved Labeling for Xanax XR
PubMed Health: Alprazolam topic
Alprazolam is relatively more toxic than other benzodiazepines in overdose
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

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  1. I am not an addictive Personality but after Decades of Depression and Anxiety i was given Xanax at a Clinic, so I have been on Xanax since 1999! Three Times one Milligram a Day, so at 76 what have I to loose? My Life? Sooner or later I will, all my Life I have been under Stress but was always productive and responsible, except very trusting and consequently lost Money helped to many nasty People and never learned to be cautious! So why should i suffer much longer!

  2. My son started taking zanax in january wi some other boys in high school….he trying to stay off it now but occasionally has quik black outs…..im worried. How can i help him?

  3. My son passed out with his knees up under his chest and suffocated to death. Postural Asphyxia…
    It kills people. Period.
    Don’t be dumb.

    1. Hi Ellen. I’m really sorry for your loss… My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family. May God give you the peace that you seek.

    1. Hi Frances. Yes. Only if you have a need to take it. If you have any questions, I suggest that you speak with your doctor.

  4. I was prescribed a .25 tablet and I broke one in half when I felt I needed it. I had stuttered all my life till I was 30. The Day I took the .12 which one one half the pill I never stuttered again and I have continued for 20 years to take a .25 broken in half about 3 times a day. Never have increased the amount usually forget to take it but after 12 hours or so I either begin to stammer slightly or just feel funny. I will continue it until something better comes along and do my best to never abuse it. I’m not a drug kind of guy. Never smoked grass or done any drugs. I wish I had known of it when I was young instead of suffering through all the years in school and college with a stuttering problem. I was an initial stutterer meaning I only did it at the beginning of words or sentences. If you have this problem it sure wouldn’t hurt to try it and be very sure not to abuse the drug.

  5. I also want to say benzos were seemingly a “life saver” for me as well, then eventually had a rebound effect and started effecting me in negative ways, my tolerance became unimaginable just from daly prescribed use. i’m not saying all cases are like mine, but i will say everyone will experience the hell-ish withdrawals associated with this family of drugs. it is a horrible thing to experience for anyone, and no doubt for anyone with anxiety . just want to put a warning out there, all the doctors tell you about the pros but not about the absolute seriousness of the cons and when if and why you may eventually have to get off of it.

  6. I’ve had severe anxiety for 30 years and never knew why. Finally diagnosed with social anxiety disorder almost 10 years ago, and a rare blood disease called porphyria. Among other things, the porphyria causes my heart rate to speed up for no reason. Xanax has been life changing in the best way for my health. I have access to .5mg anytime during the day and it works fast. It shouldn’t be taken off the market because people can’t manage themselves. There are people sniffing bath salts, chewing cow pie shrooms, and noshing rat poison laced weed, so removing something like xanax that’s been approved by the FDA, and proven helpful, isn’t exactly going to deter those whose intentions are to get jacked up.

  7. i used to take xanax during my last year of high school. I would buy it twice a week for along time and didn’t really notice how much I would intake. Thank God. I’m a year clean and it really did affect my behavior. I find it sad to look back and finally see how bad it had got and the way it has me now.

  8. Well some have said you cannot die from xanax alone. I surely almost did…..my heart stopped in the er before they could pump my stomache and fill me with charcoal. I had no other meds in my system nor alchol. Just ate entire bottle of z….not sure of dosaege at time. Doctors told my grandmother they werent sure how I made it through. So maybe it was just me. I did sleep really freaking great while in lockdown for my “episode” . Still lovin and rockin xanax. What occured was not an accident….I was trying to end it all. Now I only take it for anxiety attacks. Had many this year.

  9. Thanks for sharing your opinion, Jacques. We feel that Xanax can be helpful for people needing short term relief from extreme anxiety. So taking Xanax off the market might not be the best solution for helping people who can get addicted to it.

    What’s your personal experience on Xanax?

  10. I feel that Xanax is highly addictive and appallingly dangerous. You should see the utter wreckage of people…let alone the death toll…who have become addicted to this drug…it takes only a few days to be in it’s stranglehold. I suggest you look for the real facts and they are that this drub is so dangerous and of so little good it should not be produced.

  11. The LD50 for alprazolam is estimated at 15,000-20,000mgs. That means your stomach will not be able to even contain that volume. People usually die from vomiting while passed out. Not from Xanax itself.

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