A 2012 report from the American Chemical Society notes that prescription drug use is skyrocketing in the United States, and alprazolam (sold under the brand name Xanax) is one of the most prescribed psychiatric drugs today.
 
In fact, physicians write an estimated 50 million Xanax prescriptions each year, treating those who suffer from anxiety disorders or panic attacks.

Xanax use is not exclusive to those with a doctor’s prescription; Xanax is also one of the most commonly misused drugs available. As a benzodiazepine, it creates a feeling of relaxation and sedation that is widely sought by those who abuse the drug. Some people even create Xanax bars, a significantly larger homemade version of Xanax that yields a stronger high.

Xanax Bars vs. Xanax Tablets

In many ways, Xanax bars and Xanax tablets function in the same way. As an article from Greatist explains, both drugs target gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, which relaxes the body and calms the central nervous system, creating a feeling of general wellbeing.  

The two forms of Xanax differ in their size and potency. A typical Xanax tablet is approximately 0.25 mg, though a physician may suggest a higher dose for patients with severe anxiety. By contrast, a typical Xanax bar is 2 mg – four times the amount of the average pill. This increases the strength and sustainability of the high, making Xanax bars a popular choice among recreation drug users.

  • What Are They Used For?

    People take Xanax bars for a variety of reasons (both legally acceptable and illicit), but they all stem from a single, specific goal: sedation. Some people take Xanax bars to cope with anxiety. Others take them to sleep soundly. Others use Xanax bars to combat the “bad trip” effects of other drugs like heroin or LSD.

  • How Are Xanax Bars Made?

    The process of making Xanax bars is pretty simple. Drug dealers or individuals simply crush alprazolam into a power, then press it into bar form using a pill press (a tool that is easily purchased online). This process enables people to combine Xanax with other substances, even highly potent drugs like fentanyl, for a stronger high.

The Risks of Xanax Bar Abuse

Like Like most controlled substances, use of Xanax bars comes with many risks, including significant health issues and even fatal overdose. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths more than quadrupled from 2002 to 2015, likely due to people misusing and abusing prescription drugs such as Xanax.

Other long-term risks of Xanax abuse include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems
  • Memory impairment
  • Increased depression and anxiety
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Xanax bars can also create immediate problems for the people using them. A study in Neuropsychopharmacology discovered that people under the influence of 1 mg of Xanax saw significant impairment in their driving ability and memory function.

As a Xanax bar is typically 2 mg of alprazolam, this study indicates that using these bars can lead to potentially dangerous results, particularly if the user drives.


Due to their high potency, use of Xanax bars can be incredibly dangerous. Anyone who has been abusing Xanax or any other benzodiazepine should consult with a medical professional before attempting to stop use as withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. Medical supervision is required.