Xanax Addiction and the Risk of Fentanyl Overdose

Updated on 1/31/2023

If you have ever been prescribed a benzodiazepine or know someone who has, you most likely have been educated on the addictive qualities that these medicines can have. This is especially true for a type of benzodiazepine known as Xanax (Alprazolam). Xanax is a common drug in the United States, often known by name even by those who have never seen it before. Because tolerance to Xanax can develop quickly, many are at risk of becoming addicted to this drug. Recent concerns with fentanyl being added to Xanax and other prescription drugs bought outside of a pharmacy setting (such as, through dealers on social media) also puts those using at risk for fentanyl addiction, overdose and death.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine and is the brand name for Alprazolam. It is a prescription sedative prescribed to help patients with anxiety and panic disorders. It belongs to the class of benzodiazepines that work on the central nervous system to produce a calming effect. Many believe that Xanax is safe because it is a prescription drug that doctors prescribe to their patients. However, Xanax has addictive qualities and is usually abused because it causes a sense of calm in its users. It is often taken in a higher dose than prescribed or in combination with other drugs or alcohol to achieve a “high.”

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a high potency and synthetic opioid causing overdose and death in the United States. This highly addictive, synthetic opioid is 50 to 300 times more potent than morphine, making 2 milligrams of fentanyl a deadly dosage. While it was originally invented to treat severe cancer pain, its illegal use is growing swiftly and leading to rapid respiratory depression and damage of the internal organs, often resulting in death.

Statistics indicate that fentanyl is currently the greatest drug threat in this country. Rates of overdose deaths involving fentanyl have increased drastically over the last few years:

  • Among teenagers, overdose deaths increased 94% from 2019 to 2020.
  • Fentanyl overdose rates are rising 2.5 times faster than heroin overdoses.
  • Fentanyl is a factor in 53% of overdose deaths nationwide.

How Xanax Abuse May Lead to Fentanyl Overdose

Most individuals who become addicted to Xanax were either prescribed the medication by a doctor or received it from friends and family. Because Xanax is highly addictive, tolerance develops quickly; this means that the person using the medication will have to take higher doses to achieve the same effects. It is not unheard of for someone struggling with a Xanax addiction to take between 20 and 30 pills in one day. Once the person has become dependent on Xanax, any attempt at stopping consumption will result in withdrawal symptoms.

Fake Xanax Pills Containing Fentanyl

Taking Xanax has become especially dangerous due the spread of fake prescription drugs containing fentanyl. Teenagers and adults are turning to social media platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok to buy Xanax and Percocet from dealers, but the pills they are given instead are spiked with a lethal amount of fentanyl. Drugs laced with fentanyl can be impossible to differentiate between drugs that are not. Fake and laced pills often look identical to the prescription pills someone taking Xanax is used to taking.

Signs of Xanax Abuse

Recognizing signs of Xanax abuse can help you spot someone who may be struggling. There are several signs to look out for, but it is important to note that symptoms will vary from person to person. 

Potential signs of Xanax abuse include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Vertigo
  • Poor coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Over-sleeping
  • Impaired cognition
  • Drowsiness
  • Delirium
  • Isolation
  • Missing school or work
  • Legal trouble

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

The fentanyl crisis has made it clear that now is the time for treatment for your addiction. Fentanyl is taking lives each day. Don’t let it take yours. Treatment for Xanax addiction will often begin with the person undergoing a medical detox, which can include the person being placed on a tapering program that is medically supervised. This way, no complications occur during the detox. Stopping the drug abruptly can result in serious health complications, including seizures, coma and possibly death. The best place to detox from Xanax is at a treatment facility that offers medical detox and has experience with individuals struggling with Xanax addiction, such as Casa Palmera.

Xanax addiction is common in the United States, often beginning due to a lack of knowledge about the drug. This prescription medication is often seen as safe because it is regulated, but it is also highly addictive. Many find themselves taking a higher dose than average to achieve the desired effects, an indication of tolerance, which can lead to developing addiction. Knowing how to recognize the signs of a Xanax addiction will help you or a loved one get the treatment needed sooner rather than later. Treatment will often begin with a medical detox and then continue into various therapies. Following treatment, an aftercare program is usually set for the individual to participate in. Xanax addiction treatment at Casa Palmera is comprehensive and individualized, allowing for maximum healing. Contact us today to learn more. You don’t have to struggle on your own; reach out and get the support you need to heal.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.