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Treating Xanax Overdose

Can You Overdose on Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat anxiety or panic disorders. A Xanax overdose is possible if a person takes large quantities of the drug or mixes it with other drugs.

From 2005 to 2011, almost 1 million emergency department visits involved benzodiazepines such as Xanax alone or in combination with opioids and alcohol. 5

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax

Knowing the symptoms of a Xanax overdose is important for regular users and those around them. These symptoms may include: 1,6

  • Coordination problems.
  • Diminished reflexes.
  • Confusion.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Unconsciousness.
  • Coma.

If you think you or someone you know has overdosed on Xanax, call 911 immediately.

Have the following information ready when you call (if possible):

  • How much Xanax the person took.
  • When he or she took it.
  • The person’s age.
  • His or her condition.
  • Any other drugs taken in combination with Xanax.

Xanax Overdose Treatment

Xanax overdose treatment may include the following: 6

  • Monitoring the person’s vital signs.
  • Gastric lavage (stomach pumping).
  • Administration of intravenous fluids.
  • After securing the airway and providing ventilation assistance if needed, flumazenil (Romazicon) may be administered to reverse the overdose, with careful monitoring for potential resulting seizure activity (which may occur in long-term users).

Can You Die From a Xanax Overdose?

Severe Xanax overdoses can result in coma, respiratory depression, and death. These overdoses are often the result of combining Xanax with alcohol and opioids. But overdose deaths due to Xanax alone have been reported. 2,6

The chances of death or serious complications depend on how much the person took, whether he or she used other drugs, and how quickly they receive help.

Recovering From an Overdose

Once the overdose is dealt with, many people often seek help through a recovery program for Xanax abuse or addiction. Many people who overdose have become dependent on Xanax or are abusing it with other drugs and can benefit from substance abuse treatment.

Treatment programs can help people understand the root causes of their addiction and learn how to manage their anxiety without medication.

Treatment programs for Xanax abuse include:

  • Inpatient recovery facilities. Inpatient or residential programs allow a person to focus on his or her addiction without distractions from the home environment. Participants live at the treatment center for a certain amount of time (usually 30 to 90 days) and attend group and individual therapy sessions and addiction education groups. These programs may also include alternative therapies such as art and music therapy, yoga, and meditation. Many programs offer medical supervision and detox management, which may include tapering or slowly reducing the Xanax dose over a period of time.
  • Outpatient recovery programs. Outpatient programs often consist of group and/or individual therapy sessions. Some programs are more intensive and may offer detox and medical care. These programs let a person continue living at home during treatment.
  • 12-step and non-12-step programs. These are support groups of people who are in recovery. Twelve-step programs are based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps, while non-12-step programs are secular programs that use techniques based on the latest addiction research.
  • Individual therapy. Recovering Xanax users may meet with a therapist during an inpatient program or after they discharge. Some people use therapy as their primary form of treatment after they have recovered from an overdose. A therapist can help a person uncover the reasons behind his or her addiction and learn techniques to control anxiety.
  • Group therapy. People in recovery from addiction gather together at a set time to discuss issues related to sobriety. A therapist facilitates these sessions, which can be open-ended or focused on a specific topic.

Find a Recovery Center

Recovery from Xanax overdose is only the start of the full recovery process. Following overdose recovery with addiction treatment gives you the best chance at getting and staying clean.

Call to speak with a rehab support specialist about finding a treatment center that meets your needs.

[1]. National Library of Medicine. (2010). Alprazolam.

[2]. Isbister, G., O’Regan, L. Sibbritt, D., and Whyte, I. (2004). Alprazolam is relatively more toxic than other benzodiazepines in overdose. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 58(1):88-95.

[3]. Longo, L.P. (2000). Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines-Side Effects, Abuse Risk and Alternatives. American Family Physician, 61(7), 2121-2128.

[4]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2014). Combining benzodiazepines with other substances raises risks.

[5]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Benzodiazepines in Combination with Opioid Pain Relievers or Alcohol: Greater Risk of More Serious ED Visit Outcomes. The DAWN Report, December 18, 2014.

[6]. Food and Drug Administration. (2011). Xanax.