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Xanax Addiction, Signs, Symptoms, Dependence, Side Effects, Effects on the Brain & Treatment Options

Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax Addiction is a very common condition in the United States, that’s because it is one of the most prescribed drugs in the country, and it has a variety of components that makes this drug highly addictive. It treats anxiety and panic disorders but has dangerous potential for abuse. A Xanax high is described as calming, tranquil, and addictive. 

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam and is classified as a benzodiazepine, which is a class of medication that produces a calming effect on the brain and central nervous system. Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical signal that tells brain cells to “slow” or “relax.”

As stated by the scientific piece ‘A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal’, N. Ait-Daoud, A. Hamby, S. Sharma, D. Blevins, published by The US. National Library of Medicine, Alprazolam is one of the most widely prescribed benzodiazepines for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Its clinical use has been a point of contention as most addiction specialists consider it to be highly addictive, given its unique psychodynamic properties which limit its clinical usefulness, whereas many primary care physicians continue to prescribe it for longer periods than recommended.

Xanax Addiction
Xanax Addiction is a very common condition in the United States, that’s because it is one of the most prescribed drugs in the country.

Understanding Xanax Addiction

Xanax comes as an oral medication in tablet or. The dosage is based on a patient’s medical condition, age, and response to treatment. A course of Xanax pill should not last longer than one or two weeks, but sometimes it is prescribed on an “as-needed” basis for panic attacks.

If someone takes Xanax regularly, it can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms; especially if taken for a long time or in high doses. Xanax can cause physical and psychological dependence or addiction even in people who take it as prescribed. Therefore, a course of Xanax should be as short as possible with treatment response closely monitored by the doctor.

For those who have used Xanax for longer than approximately 3-4 weeks, their doctor may create a taper schedule. During a taper, a person gradually reduces their daily dose. Tapers are an effective way to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax Addiction
If someone takes Xanax regularly, it can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms; especially if taken for a long time or in high doses.

Because of Xanax’s abuse potential, it is often sold and used illegally. According to the 2015–2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 12.5% of adults in the U.S have used benzodiazepines, whether legally or not. About 2.1% of adults abused benzodiazepines during that same period.

Many people take Xanax with a doctor’s prescription, but the most common way to take the drug recreationally is by obtaining the drug from someone who has a prescription. Possessing or using a controlled medication without a prescription is a federal crime; it is also illegal to resell the medication, but many people, especially teens and young adults, do not realize the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. 

Xanax Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Tolerance to Xanax develops quickly, requiring the user to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 or 30 pills per day. If the user decides to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sign that a physical dependence has developed. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction.

Knowing how to recognize Xanax Addiction’s signs and symptoms can help you know when to seek treatment for yourself or a loved one. Xanax addiction can be serious and affect a person’s mood, behavior, and physical characteristics.

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hyperactivity
  • Mania
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors

While Xanax addiction cannot be completely cured — nor can any dependency on alcohol or drugs — treatment can help affected individuals address their behavior and return to a healthy lifestyle.

Xanax Addiction and Dependence

Dependence and addiction are not the same. Dependence refers to a physical state in which your body is dependent on the drug. With drug dependence may also come tolerance, which is when you need more and more of a substance to achieve the same effect. You experience mental and physical effects (withdrawal) if you abruptly stop taking the drug.

When you have an addiction, you continue to use a drug regardless of any negative consequences. Physical dependence can occur with or without an addiction to the drug; however, it is a common feature of addiction.

Xanax Addiction Side Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Memory problems
  • Poor balance or coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating

Xanax addiction’s effects on the brain

Benzos can also cause the brain to malfunction where coordination comes into play. This means users might have trouble with speech and trouble keeping their balance at times. Difficulty concentrating on tasks is a common problem, too — from menial household chores to big projects at work. Blending over from physical effects that Xanax has on the brain to psychological effects, individuals run the risk of actually damaging brain cells when they are used or abused for several months or more.

Persistent use or abuse of Xanax changes the way the brain operates. The drug has been known to decrease inhibitions and make users more open to taking risks they wouldn’t normally take. They may become more inclined to pick fights with loved ones, drive recklessly, or engage in unsafe sex practices. Depression and even suicidal ideation are realities for abusers of benzodiazepines such as Xanax.

Many individuals who suffer these consequences end up in the emergency room unable to control their morbid thoughts. Fox News reports the number of people who were treated in ERs for adverse outcomes after using Xanax jumped by a 172 percent margin between 2004 and 2011.

Xanax Addiction
Persistent use or abuse of Xanax changes the way the brain operates. The drug has been known to decrease inhibitions and make users more open to taking risks they wouldn’t normally take.

Irritability is common for people abusing this drug; abruptly snapping at someone and feeling bothered by things that wouldn’t usually get on one’s nerves isn’t unusual. Users can also experience hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Confusion is a typical consequence of the drug and can often lead users into a place of hostility that makes them more inclined to provoke others and engage in harmful behaviors, both toward themselves and other people.

More recent research has discovered a potential link between the use of Xanax and dementia. Harvard Health Publications noted in a study of around 2,000 older adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and approximately 7,000 without it, that the risk of developing the disease increased by 32 percent for people who had used benzodiazepine medications like Xanax for 3-6 months and by an alarming 84 percent in those who used it longer than six months. 

Signs of a Xanax Addiction

Regardless of the substance that has been used, there are some common warning signs of Xanax addiction you can consider at the moment of asking yourself if you may have an addiction or not. 

  • There’s an urge or craving to use that’s so intense it’s difficult to focus on anything else.
  • Needing to use more of the drug to achieve the same “high” (tolerance).
  • Taking more and more of the drug or taking the drug for longer periods of time than intended.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining the drug, using it, and recovering from its effects.
  • Continuing to use even though use affects your ability to fulfill duties at work, school, or home.
  • Continuing to use despite it causing social or interpersonal problems.
  • Giving up important activities or hobbies to use.
  • Using recurrently in harm-promoting situations.
  • Continuing to use despite it causing physical or psychological problems.
  • Lacking the ability to stop using the drug without the assistance of professional intervention.
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal once you stop using the drug.

Xanax Addiction and Withdrawal 

Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can be more severe than that of other benzodiazepines. Mild withdrawal symptoms can occur after taking the drug for as little as 1 week if stopped abruptly. Xanax is safe when taken as prescribed.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and shifts in mood
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, or face
  • Tremors
  • Tense muscles
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty breathing

Xanax detoxification (detox) is a process aimed at helping you safely stop taking Xanax while minimizing and managing your withdrawal symptoms. Detox is usually done in a hospital or rehabilitation facility under medical supervision.

In many cases, Xanax use is discontinued over time. It may be swapped for another longer-acting benzodiazepine. In both cases, you take less and less of the drug until it’s out of your system. This process is called tapering and can take up to 6 weeks. In some cases, it can take longer. Your doctor might also prescribe other medications to ease your withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common form of therapy for benzodiazepine addiction. CBT addresses the learning processes underlying substance use disorders. It involves working with a therapist to develop a set of healthy coping strategies.

Research has shown that when used alongside tapering, CBT is effective in reducing benzodiazepine use over 3 months.

Other common behavioral therapies include:

  • Self-management training
  • Cue exposure
  • Individual counseling
  • Marital or family counseling
  • Education
  • Support groups


The detox period for Xanax may be longer than the detox period for other drugs. This is because the drug dose has to be tapered slowly over time. As a result, detox often overlaps with other forms of treatment. Once you’ve stopped taking Xanax or other benzodiazepines, there’s no additional medication to take. You might be prescribed other medication to treat depression, anxiety, or a sleep disorder.

Reclaim your life from Xanax Addiction, We Level Up Washington

Xanax Addiction is a condition that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Washington can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from Xanax Addiction with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

We Level Up Washington Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatments

The We Level Up Washington primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment programs for underlying conditions like Xanax addiction that frequently fuels harmful behaviors. Taking that first step to get the professional support you need can be life-transforming.

We know how mental health disorders and secondary co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses directly affect one another. The We Level Up Washington treatment center provides recovery programs through science-based mental health treatments that can help you feel better. Call us now for a free mental health evaluation! 

Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at affiliated facilities at other We Level Up Treatment Centers locations beyond the Washington treatment facility.