Xanax Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

Xanax Addiction: How to Recognize and Treat It

If you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax addiction, this guide is for you. In it, we will discuss the different types of treatment available for Xanax addiction and how to find the best one for you or your loved one. We will also talk about the dangers of Xanax addiction and what to do if you experience a relapse.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Xanax’s Effects

Alprazolam, better known by its trade name Xanax, is a short-acting benzodiazepine. It is commonly prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax works by enhancing the effects of a natural chemical referred to as GABA in the brain.

Like other Benzodiazepines, Xanax can easily be abused. People who abuse Xanax often do so to experience a sense of euphoria. Others use it as a way to self-medicate anxiety or depression. Xanax abuse can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Tolerance occurs when a person needs increasingly larger doses of a drug to experience the desired effects. Dependence occurs when a person experiences withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, tremors, and seizures. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite negative consequences.

Despite being commonly abused, Xanax can be extremely dangerous when used with other substances, such as alcohol and opioids. Mixing Xanax with other substances can lead to overdose and death. Even in cases where it is used as a prescription drug, Xanax dependency and abuse is a serious problem as it can lead to devastating consequences.

If you decide to quit using Benzos such as Xanax, professional help should be sought. Also, understanding how Xanax affects your mental and physical health is critical in developing a plan to quit and stay clean.

Xanax Abuse

Abusing Xanax can be defined as using the drug outside of its intended medicinal purposes. This can be dangerous and can lead to adverse consequences. People abuse Xanax for different reasons. Some people want to get high, and others use it to self-medicate anxiety or depression. Whatever the reason, the dangers of abusing Xanax are real and should not be taken lightly.

There are three common ways that people abuse Xanax, which include:

• Taking many pills
• Using the drug via blotter paper
• Taking the drug with other substances such as alcohol

By itself, Xanax is already a powerful and dangerous drug. It can lead to slowed breathing and death when taken in large doses. When mixed with other substances, the risks of abusing Xanax become even more apparent.

Some of the common Xanax abuse symptoms include:

1. Mild

• Poor coordination
• Confusion
• Slurred speech
• Uncontrolled muscle movements
• Slow reflexes
• Tremors
• Fast heartbeat

2. Severe symptoms

• Chest pain
• Seizures
• Difficulty breathing
• Hallucinations
• Coma
• Abnormal heart rhythm

Impacts of Xanax Abuse (Permanent and Reversible)

There are short-term and long-term effects of Xanax abuse. Some of these effects are temporary, while others are permanent. Some of the common short-term effects of Xanax abuse include:

• Ear pain
• Yellowing of eyes
• Rhinorrhea
• Nasal congestion
• Severe swelling and rashes
• Ulcers, swelling, and sores

Permanent impacts of Xanax abuse include:

• Collapse of cardio
• Acute kidney damage
• Damage from coma and seizures
• Pulmonary damage

Xanax Dependence and Withdrawal

There is an increased dependence propensity in Xanax as it is a short-acting Benzodiazepine. Xanax’s dependence can start after a week of use with regular doses. It often begins in people’s minds when they develop a tolerance to the drug. After initial use, people who abuse Xanax often take larger doses to experience the desired effects. They then develop a psychological dependence as they believe they need the drug to feel normal. Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body adapts to the presence of the drug and begins to experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is absent.

When you become physically dependent on the drug, you shouldn’t suddenly discontinue use as it can be dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, tremors, and seizures. These symptoms can cause serious health complications and even death.

Therefore, it is vital to seek professional help when discontinuing the use of Xanax. A detoxification process can help manage and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. Doctors often use the tapering process to help people discontinue the use of Xanax safely. After detox, you can enter a rehabilitation program to get help for your addiction.

Xanax Addiction

Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are highly addictive. The probability of developing an addiction to Xanax is high even if a person takes the drug as prescribed by a doctor. People who abuse Xanax are at an even higher risk of developing an addiction. The risk of addiction is elevated in individuals who take 4mg per day for over three months. However, this doesn’t mean that people who take lower doses for a shorter duration are not at risk.

Addiction to Xanax presents many behavioral, mental, and physical challenges. Apart from financial and criminal challenges, addiction to Xanax can lead to adverse health, work, and family implications. Therefore, it is essential to get help as soon as possible.

Effects of Xanax Addiction

1. Relationships

• Antisocial behavior: When under the influence of Xanax, people often display aggressive and violent behavior. This can damage relationships with family and friends.

• Interpersonal conflicts: Xanax addiction can lead to conflicts in relationships as the person may lie or steal to get money to buy the drug.

• Aggressiveness: Individuals may become aggressive and lash out at others when they are going through Xanax withdrawal or are trying to get more of the drug.

2. Self-Esteem

• Depersonalization: When users are high on Xanax, they can feel disconnected from their bodies and surroundings. This can lead to a loss of self-esteem as users may feel like they’re not in control of their own bodies.

• Anxiety: People who abuse Xanax often suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. This can lead to a feeling of worthlessness and low self-esteem.

• Mood swings: The sudden changes in mood that come with Xanax abuse can lead to feeling hopeless and helpless.

• Suicidal thoughts: Xanax addiction can lead to suicidal thoughts as users may feel like there is no way out of their addiction.

3. Work

• Job loss: Xanax addiction can lead to job loss as users may call in sick often, be late for work, or be unable to perform their job duties.

• Decreased productivity: Users may be unable to concentrate or be productive at work due to their addiction.

• Paradox excitation: At high doses, Xanax can cause Paradoxical Excitation, a state of agitation and aggression. This can lead to fights or accidents at work.

• Mental impairment: Long-term Xanax abuse can lead to cognitive impairments such as memory loss and difficulty thinking clearly. This can make it hard to keep a job.

4. Health

• Cardiopulmonary collapse: Xanax can slow down the respiratory system, leading to cardiopulmonary collapse.
• Blood vessels damage: Xanax can damage the blood vessels, leading to strokes or heart attacks.
• Uncontrollable muscle twitching: Xanax can cause involuntary muscle twitching, leading to falls and other accidents. The twitching can be severe enough to cause bone fractures in some cases.

Ways of Recognizing Xanax Addiction

Recognizing the addiction to Xanax in loved ones is not always easy. The best way to know if people are addicted to Xanax is to ask them. However, some signs and symptoms may indicate that people are addicted to Xanax.

• Changes in appearance: Users may have changes such as weight loss or gain, dark circles under their eyes, or a change in their hygiene.

• Changes in behavior: Users may become more withdrawn and isolate themselves from friends and family. They may also start skipping work or school or stop participating in activities they used to enjoy.

• Mood changes: Users may have sudden mood swings or become more irritable and aggressive.

• Health problems: Users may experience health problems such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or seizures.

• Social problems: Users may start to have social problems such as losing their job, getting in trouble with the law, or having financial problems.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of Xanax addiction, it is crucial to get help as soon as possible. Xanax addiction can lead to serious health problems and even death.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Like other drug addictions, Xanax addiction therapy requires a detox period, followed by counseling and treatment. Clients should stop taking the drug and work through the withdrawal period under medical supervision. After the acute withdrawal period is over, clients can begin therapy to address the underlying causes of their addiction. Several therapy options are available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and individual counseling.


The first step in treating Xanax addiction is to stop taking the drug and allow the body to rid itself of the toxins. This process is called detoxification or detox. During detox, clients may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. These symptoms can be managed with medication and close monitoring.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

This is a crucial therapy option for people addicted to Xanax. The medication-assisted treatment uses medications to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The most common medications used in this type of treatment are benzodiazepines, which can help reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that helps clients identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their addiction. This type of therapy can be done in individual or group settings.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a type of therapy that involves meeting with a group of people who are also struggling with addiction. Group therapy can help clients share their experiences and learn from each other.

Individual Counseling

Individual counseling is a type of therapy that involves meeting with a counselor one-on-one. This type of therapy can help clients identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their addiction.

In-Patient Treatment for Addiction to Xanax

This is the most beneficial and successful form of treatment for addiction to Xanax. In this type of treatment, clients live at a facility that receives 24-hour care. They get the highest level of treatment and support during their stay. This type of treatment can last for 30 days or more. Many treatment centers that offer in-patient treatment provide an organized treatment plan, including group counseling, 12-step programs, holistic therapy, and individual counseling.

Outpatient Treatment

This is also another type of treatment for addiction to Xanax. In this type of Xanax treatment, clients live at home and come to a facility for treatment during the day. They receive the same level of treatment as in-patient clients, but they can go home at night. This type of treatment can last for several months.

Getting Help

There are many resources available to help people who are struggling with addiction. If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, it’s important to get help immediately.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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