Xanax addiction is a dangerous dependency on a drug called alprazolam. It can result in painful short-term and long-term effects. Treating Xanax addiction starts with being honest about your or a loved one’s substance abuse. 

The Ins and Outs of Xanax Addiction 

Every year, doctors write more than 50 million prescriptions for Xanax. While some individuals use those prescriptions appropriately, many more Xanax-Addiction-101-suffer from a Xanax addiction and abuse them. Xanax addiction can have deadly consequences. 

It is crucial to become aware of these dangers and how to recover from them as well. No matter what stage you’re in, it is possible to start the road to long-term sobriety. Learning more about this drug, and addiction can be a key step toward recovery.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for a drug called alprazolam, which is a benzodiazepine. Most commonly, doctors prescribe Xanax to treat conditions like anxiety, panic disorders or insomnia.

Individuals typically take Xanax in a pill or tablet form. 

Its effects generally peak within an hour and can last for up to eight hours. Street names for Xanax include Zanies, Benzos or handlebars.

Xanax is dispensed in 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg strengths. The pills come in a variety of shapes and colors depending on strength. The 2 mg tablets are white, green, or yellow in color and rectangular in shape. The rest are oval-shaped and colored white (0.25 mg), orange (0.5 mg) or blue (1 mg). 

Depending on the strength and amount abused, the effects will vary.

The Negative Impact of Xanax Addiction

When individuals take Xanax with a legitimate prescription and under appropriate medical supervision, there can be positive benefits. However, those individuals who abuse Xanax are likely to suffer from several negative effects. These can include health problems, cognitive concerns and major interferences in relationships, finances, and career.

Physical issues resulting from Xanax abuse can be dangerous. Just some of the common side effects that individuals suffer from are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of physical coordination
  • Constipation
  • Changes to sex drive
  • Dizziness
  • Constant fatigue

In addition to the physical effects of regular Xanax use, addiction can cause other serious problems. Xanax addiction frequently causes users to make procuring and taking the drug a priority. The addiction will come before work, before family, and before friends. This causes all areas of life to suffer, and it can lead to broken relationships and career failure.

It is also important to address the financial side of prescription drug addiction. Over time, physicians may not want to prescribe Xanax to patients, particularly those who require increased doses to accommodate their new tolerance to the drug. This might mean paying cash when visiting clinics or purchasing expensive Xanax pills illegally through drug dealers.

Symptoms: A More In-Depth Look

There are many physical and physiological effects when taking Xanax. It negatively impacts not just your body, but your mind as well. These effects can creep up on you. You may not even realize you have a dependency.

As you read through the symptoms, make sure to be honest with yourself. Perhaps you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms due to a Xanax addiction. Denial is a common effect when it comes to addiction.

However, getting help starts with honesty. Obstacles like this can be overcome. Keep reading to get a more thorough understanding of what Xanax does. 

These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety: Anxiety can be categorized by uneasy thoughts one feels they cannot control. These thoughts can lead you down a “rabbit hole” where your mind creates issues that cause you pain and distress.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Research has found that people can have cognitive issues for weeks after stopping Xanax.
  • Depression: Individuals have reported feeling deeply depressed and mentally uneasy.
  • Hallucinations: Although rare, some people have reported that when they suddenly stop using Xanax, they experience hallucinations.
  • Insomnia: Overtaken by anxiety and stress, individuals who are in withdrawal from Xanax may have problems falling asleep at night.
  • Memory problems: Research shows that long-term Xanax abuse can lead to dementia and memory problems in the short-term. Typically, memory functioning is restored within a few months of the initial withdrawal.
  • Mood swings: Unpredictable shifts in mood have been reported, such as quickly going from feeling euphoric to being depressed.
  • Nightmares: This side effect of withdrawal is often reported.
  • Suicidal thinking: Anxiety, stress, and intense nervousness that can occur during withdrawal can lead to or coexist with suicidal thoughts.
  • Psychosis: Though rare, this may occur when a person stops using Xanax altogether, rather than being weaned off it.

Deadly Xanax Drug Interactions

Another danger when it comes to Xanax is combining it with another substance. These pairings can cause injury and even death. Xanax and alcohol are a very dangerous combination. When someone is drinking, they often don’t realize how much Xanax is affecting their bodies. This can lead to overdosing.

Both substances are central nervous system depressants, slowing down the body’s processes like movement and breathing.

Xanax should never be combined with other benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin or Ativan. The effects of each drug can “stack” and increase the chance of overdose. Did you know that every year 115 Americans die of opioid overdose? Research has shown that from 2001–2013, about 17% of people who received an opioid prescription also received a benzodiazepine like Xanax.

This study did not include illicit opioids like heroin, which may increase the numbers. If you are taking Xanax as prescribed, check with your doctor before simultaneously drinking or taking another substance. It’s crucial to take preventative measures when taking Xanax as it is a very dangerous drug when misused. 

The Development of Xanax Addiction 

There are two primary routes for the development of an addiction to Xanax. The first is that a person decides to try Xanax for recreational purposes and eventually develops an addiction. Some people use Xanax as a party drug for its sedative effects. They may take it without realizing how addictive it is.

The second route is when individuals receive a prescription for Xanax for legitimate medical reasons but developing an addiction after prolonged use. This is a common issue that’s been hurting communities nationwide. Even for minor issues, a drug like Xanax can be prescribed which is then easily refilled. This is not something to take lightly. 

Xanax is the fifth most commonly prescribed drug in the United States. A staggering number of people are requesting or taking Xanax to treat a medical condition. However, all patients taking Xanax must be careful about dosage and appropriate consumption. Avoiding the development of an addiction is far, far easier than trying to treat it after it develops.

How to Recognize Addiction in a Loved One

Recognizing symptoms of Xanax addiction in a loved one is the first step in understanding how to help them. Everyone’s unique situation means that they will experience symptoms on their terms. However, symptoms between Xanax users are quite similar.

The following are common signs of addiction:

  • Mood changes. Your loved one may seem more irritable and experience feelings of depression or anxiety.
  • Behavioral changes. Your loved one may be acting secretive or even show signs of aggressive behavior. 
  • Changes in appearance. Your loved one may have recently lost or gained a significant amount of weight.
  • Health issues. Is your loved one sleeping a lot, appearing sluggish, or experiencing nausea, vomiting, or headaches? They may be struggling with a Xanax addiction. 
  • Social changes. They may withdraw themselves from their usual social activities and problems maintaining healthy relationships. Also, the friends they have may change. They may be developing strange relationships with people or having suspicious phone calls.

How to Treat an Addiction to Xanax

A Xanax addiction has to be treated like any other drug addiction. Patients will need to cease consumption and then work through withdrawal, followed by a comprehensive drug addiction treatment program. There are many therapeutic approaches to recovery that can be effective.

Evidence-based recovery rehab will start with talk therapy. 

This can help change behaviors, address any underlying history of trauma and work through mental health conditions that could be playing a role. Involving the family can also be helpful, as can group therapy. Alternative or holistic therapies ranging from fitness to acupuncture can play a role in boosting overall wellness and strength against relapse as well.

Inpatient Rehab for Xanax Addiction

When treating Xanax addiction, inpatient treatment is often the most beneficial. Inpatient rehab provides the highest level of care, support, and structure. Many treatment centers also offer detox services, allowing patients to go through withdrawal symptoms safely. 

Inpatient treatment can last from 28 days to several months. The length of the program will depend on the severity of the addiction. It will also be dependent upon if there is a co-occurring disorder or not.

Treating Xanax addiction often starts with a detox. After detox, the patient will take part in an organized treatment plan. This plan tends to include:

  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • 12-step programs
  • Holistic therapy 

Get Help Today 

There is a way out of Xanax addiction. At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, you can begin the road to recovery. With proper treatment and care, you can get better. Call us at (866) 319-6126 to learn more about available Xanax addiction treatment programs at 1st Step Behavioral Health.

References:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/xanax-treatment/symptoms-and-signs

About the Author: Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.