Jun 3, 2024 | By Tim Stoddart

Xanax Abuse: Warning Signs & Symptoms Of Xanax Addiction And Abuse


Xanax, otherwise known under the generic name, alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine and central nervous system depressant (CNS) often prescribed for short-term management of anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia. As one of the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medications in the United States, Xanax poses a high risk for addiction. Benzodiazepine misuse can have psychological, emotional, social, and physical consequences. With the right help, recovery from benzodiazepine addiction is possible.

What Does Xanax Addiction Look Like?

Xanax works by changing the way gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain act, slowing down functioning and muting reactions associated with stress. These chemical changes in the brain bring about feelings of relaxation and also produce a feeling of euphoria when misused. While Xanax is legal and can be used safely, it can also cause physical dependence when taken regularly and in higher doses.

Dependence is different from addiction. While dependence means benign physically reliant on a substance, addiction happens when an individual is unable to stop using the substance despite negative consequences. While addiction can occur without dependence on a substance, physical dependence is a common characteristic of Xanax addiction. Some Physicians estimate that 10-20 percent of individuals who use benzodiazepines for prolonged periods of time will build a tolerance to the drug’s effects and become dependent on them.

Without help from a medical professional, attempting to quit on your own can cause seizures and in some cases be fatal. In addition to the physical effects, there are many other warning signs of Xanax addiction that include:

  • Changing the route of administration such as snorting or injecting Xanax
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed to achieve the same euphoric effects
  • Taking the drug for a longer duration than prescribed
  • Using someone else’s prescription to obtain Xanax
  • Continued use despite negative consequences or attempts to stop
  • Experiencing cravings or strong urges to use Xanax
  • A decline in school or work performance due to preoccupation with Xanax
  • Physical symptoms including insomnia, fatigue, nausea or headaches
  • Withdrawal symptoms when Xanax is not taken regularly or is taken in smaller doses than usual

How to Tell If Someone Has A Xanax Addiction

Benzodiazepine use disorder can mimic other substances use disorders, like alcohol. Someone misusing Xanax may become obsessed and preoccupied with obtaining the drug. People may also feel the need to increase the amount taken to achieve the same desired effects due to increased physical tolerance. A fundamental aspect of any addiction is the continued use despite negative consequences.

Other signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction can include but not be limited to the following:

  • Frequently appearing intoxicated without the use or smell of alcohol
  • Loss of interest in regular activities
  • Attempting to get numerous prescriptions from different doctors
  • Defensive or reactive when confronted about Xanax use
  • Frequent memory loss
  • Problems with employment, relationships, or social settings
  • Legal trouble related to Xanax use or possession

Dangers of Xanax Addiction

Xanax addiction poses a number of risks. Many people who become addicted to Xanax feel they cannot function in their day-to-day lives without it. In addition to taking higher doses, people might mix Xanax with other substances, like alcohol or opiates, to amplify its effects. A serious risk of Xanax addiction is overdose. This is especially dangerous when someone has a high tolerance and is regularly increasing the amount they take. When Xanax is combined with other sedatives, it can create a higher risk of respiratory depression and overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines.

Long-term misuse of Xanax can lead to a number of health complications such as seizures, tremors, or heart issues including palpitations and tachycardia. In addition, users can also experience chest pains, uncontrollable twitching, and spasms. Psychological and behavioral symptoms of Xanax misuse might include higher involvement of drug seeking behaviors like stealing, doctor shopping and driving under the influence.

Dangers of Xanax Detox

Attempting to quit using Xanax on your own can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Quitting “cold turkey” can result in seizures. Xanax should not be stopped suddenly without medical supervision where things like blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature can be closely monitored. Withdrawal symptoms when detoxing from Xanax can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Mood swings
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea
  • Body aches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety

Rehab for Xanax Addiction

Recovery from Xanax addiction is possible. If you or a loved one are struggling with a Xanax addiction, professional help near you is attainable. There are a number of resources and addiction treatment facilities to recover from the effects of Xanax addiction.

Recovery Resources for Xanax Addiction

Getting sober and finding recovery is a lifelong process. Along with rehab, there are many who have found likeminded people in support groups helpful to help learn how to live life without Xanax and Benzodiazepines.

Read Sober Stories from those who have overcome Xanax addiction

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