signs of xanax overdose

Identifying the Signs of Xanax Overdose and Learning How to Help

Last Updated: May 25th 2021

Reviewed by Laura Riley

For many patients, Xanax may seem like an absolute lifesaver. However, while Xanax can have great benefits when used properly, it can also be very dangerous in excess. Unfortunately, Xanax is an easy drug to abuse, and an overdose can quickly lead to death. Therefore, it’s very important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a potential overdose.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a brand name of the generic drug alprazolam, and you may find the drug under several different names. Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and other disorders. This drug works by increasing the level of the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain. After using alprazolam and other benzodiazepines, patients tend to feel calmer and more lethargic until the drug wears off.

Symptoms and Effects of a Xanax Overdose

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When a person uses too much of any substance, it can potentially lead to an overdose. Although overdoses aren’t always deadly, they typically do a ton of damage to the brain and organs. Therefore, even if someone hasn’t used Xanax, you should contact emergency services when they exhibit any of the following symptoms.

Slurred Speech

Since Xanax inhibits the central nervous system, individuals will find it harder to perform basic tasks as they ingest more and more of the drug. Often, this results in slurred speech and difficulty forming coherent sentences. While most people may seem somewhat incoherent when they first wake up, they usually snap out of it very quickly. If a person continues to slur their words, then that’s a big sign that something is wrong.

Severe Drowsiness

When a person takes too much Xanax, they may feel extremely sleepy. If you notice someone having a hard time keeping their eyes open after taking Xanax, then there’s a good chance that they had too much. Furthermore, a person suffering from a Xanax overdose may fall asleep on the floor or in some other unusual place or position.

Confusion

A person under the influence may have trouble expressing their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. Moreover, they may constantly repeat themselves. These symptoms are also very common following excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol can hasten the effects of a Xanax overdose, so you should quickly call emergency services if you think that someone drank while using Xanax.

Trouble Breathing

People need oxygen to maintain the health of their blood, tissues, and organs. If they can’t breathe properly, then they will suffer damage to their brain and organs. After enough time, they will eventually die. Therefore, if you notice shallow or irregular breathing, then you must call an ambulance and stay by that person’s side until medical help arrives.

Unconsciousness

If an individual who uses Xanax is unconscious, it is important to call emergency services immediately. Also, be sure to remain by the individual’s side until medical help comes to the scene.

Nausea or Vomiting

An individual who took too much Xanax may complain about an upset stomach. If you see them constantly running to the bathroom, then there is a good chance that they are vomiting. A person has to take a lot of Xanax to induce nausea and vomiting. Therefore, if you notice this symptom, then you should seek medical help immediately.

How You Can Help

Call Emergency Services

If you suspect a Xanax overdose, you should call emergency services as quickly as possible. Otherwise, their condition could quickly worsen, and they may even die. 

Stay With Them

First and foremost, if you suspect an overdose, then you should not leave that person alone. Otherwise, their symptoms may progress, or they may consume more Xanax, potentially worsening their condition. Emergency personnel will arrive eventually, so you just need to keep the person safe and monitor their condition in the meantime.

Check the Person’s Vital Signs

You should consistently check their pulse and monitor their breathing. If you notice any abnormalities or strange pauses in their pulse or breathing, then you must communicate that information to emergency service professionals when they arrive. This knowledge will help them make more informed care decisions that could save the patient’s life.

Try to Keep Them Awake

If someone falls unconscious during an overdose, then there’s a possibility that they may never wake up. This is why it is critical to stay with that person while trying to keep them awake. You can do this by talking to them, asking them questions, and keeping a conversation going. It’s much easier for medical personnel to judge an overdose patient’s condition when they’re awake, so your efforts will be very helpful.

Lay Them on Their Side

Often, people vomit after consuming too much Xanax, and this is especially common when Xanax is taken with alcohol or other drugs. If you suspect an overdose, then you should not allow the person to lie on their back. Otherwise, they may choke on their own vomit.

Find Out if There are Any Other Substances in Their System

Excessive Xanax use is harmful enough on its own, but it can be even worse when combined with other substances. Therefore, you should ask anyone who was around that individual if they noticed them taking any other substances. While you may not get precise answers, any little bit of information can help emergency medical personnel later on.

Remain Calm

A Xanax overdose can be a very worrying experience. However, panicking won’t help anyone. In order to increase the person’s odds of survival, you need to do your best to remain calm. With a calm mind, you can call emergency services and monitor the individual’s condition so that the situation doesn’t get any worse. Staying calm is a lot to ask, but someone’s life may depend on it.

Signs of a Xanax Addiction

Some people who struggle with addiction may be able to maintain a façade of normalcy for a long time. However, for most people, cracks will eventually start to show. Although the following symptoms are very common signs of addiction, you shouldn’t just assume that someone has a substance use disorder because they happen to exhibit one of the symptoms on this list. Conversely, you shouldn’t assume that someone doesn’t have a substance use disorder just because they don’t exhibit noticeable symptoms. Everybody’s different, and the following signs should only serve to corroborate other evidence of a Xanax addiction.

Constant Lethargy

Xanax tends to make people seem sluggish or sleepy. Also, this drug affects a person’s coordination and balance. If an otherwise active person suddenly starts taking regular naps, moving clumsily, or avoiding physical activities, then that may point to a bigger issue. When you notice these symptoms, you should gently voice your concerns. While a defensive response may not necessarily point to a Xanax addiction, it certainly isn’t a good sign.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person consistently misuses a drug, their body will eventually depend on it to function. Consequently, once that drug is unavailable, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms. It may not always be possible for someone struggling with addiction to maintain a constant supply of Xanax. As a result, they may experience headaches, mood swings, intense sweating, hallucinations, and other withdrawal symptoms between doses.

Sudden Financial Troubles

With health insurance, a Xanax prescription can be very affordable. However, over time, an individual struggling with addiction will need a higher dose to feel the same effects. To get an adequate dose, they may have to buy Xanax on the black market. Eventually, this will affect their finances, and they may have trouble paying their rent or fulfilling other financial obligations.

Dishonest Behavior

When the money runs dry, an individual who is suffering from addiction may resort to stealing in order to afford their next dose. Moreover, they may lie about their whereabouts or dodge very basic questions. Naturally, these behaviors are frustrating and cannot be condoned. However, you may want to try to help them seek treatment before taking more drastic measures.

Social Isolation and Neglecting Responsibilities

Finding, purchasing, and using the next dose can be a very lengthy process. Consequently, individuals suffering from addiction may not spend as much time around friends and family members. They may also have trouble going to work and fulfilling other obligations. On top of that, people with substance problems often feel diminished self-worth and confidence. As a result, they may not feel good enough to spend time with friends and family.

Common Addiction Treatment Options

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Every patient is unique. So, the right course of action for one patient may not be the best treatment for another patient. The addiction professionals at a reputable facility will develop unique treatments for each patient, and most treatment regimens usually incorporate one or more of the following methods.

Detoxification

When someone goes through withdrawals, the body eventually starts to adapt to life without Xanax. This process is necessary, but it can be very uncomfortable. To avoid complications while maximizing the odds of success, patients should undergo the detoxification process with professional medical supervision.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A person’s thoughts have a significant impact on their actions, values, and choices. Consequently, if someone has negative or self-destructive thoughts, then they won’t make the best decisions. CBT works by addressing how patients think about their addiction so that they can take action to avoid damaging behaviors.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Substance use disorders are commonly accompanied by other mental disorders. In fact, many people abuse substances to deal with poor social relationships, stress, anxiety, anger, and other negative feelings. DBT helps patients develop the skills to manage these feelings without drugs.

Family Therapy

When it comes to substance use disorders, a person’s family can make a world of difference. Often, people spend the most time with their family members, so everybody in the family needs to be on the same page. Family therapy allows everybody to communicate their needs in a safe environment while giving them the tools that they need to foster a sober environment.

Group Therapy

Addiction can be extremely isolating, and that can affect a patient’s self-esteem. In group therapy, a group of peers with similar struggles can express their feelings without interruption. Not only does group therapy allow group members to vent, but it also allows them to see that they are not alone.

There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel: Call Us Today

Addiction is a terrible thing, and it’s not easy to overcome alone. The longer a person remains addicted, the harder it will be for them to live a normal life. However, there is still hope. The professionals at North Jersey Recovery Center have the tools, facilities, and expertise to help patients overcome their addiction and achieve true happiness. Therefore, if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, then you should contact us as soon as possible to find the right treatment option. Avoid the occurrence of Xanax overdose by seeking help for Xanax abuse today.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura-Riley-Cropped-Profile-150x150Laura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.

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