How to Recognize and Treat Xanax Addiction


Xanax is a benzodiazepine that is commonly used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic attacks, and insomnia. When taken long-term, it is exceedingly addictive, making Xanax addiction and abuse a severe problem. In the United States, Xanax is the most often prescribed psychiatric medicine. 70% of kids who are addicted to Xanax acquire it from their family’s medication cabinet.

Tolerance to Xanax develops fast, necessitating the administration of more of the medication to obtain the intended benefits. A person who is addicted to Xanax may take up to 20 or 30 tablets each day.

If a person decides to stop using Xanax, they may feel anxiety, restlessness, sleeplessness, and tremors as a result of withdrawal. The start of withdrawal symptoms indicates the development of a physical reliance. Addiction is indicated by the development of tolerance and withdrawal.

How Does Xanax Work?

Xanax, like other benzodiazepines, depresses the central nervous system. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that decreases brain activity and is increased by these drugs. This can cause sleepiness and tranquility, making them beneficial in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Individuals under the influence of Xanax should avoid activities that might be dangerous, such as driving or operating equipment, because Xanax can cause drowsiness.

What Is Xanax Addiction?

Substance use disorders (SUDs), such as Xanax addiction, develop when a person’s substance usage produces changes in brain chemistry, leading to uncontrollable use despite the negative effects.

Abuse of Xanax can start when a person does not take the medicine as directed, such as:

  • Taking more than their prescribed dose of Xanax.
  • Taking Xanax more frequently than prescribed.
  • Buying Xanax illicitly.
  • Using another person’s Xanax prescription.

When a person uses Xanax for a long period, their body and brain might develop a dependence on the drug, which means they will suffer withdrawal symptoms if they lessen or stop taking it. Some people may continue to use Xanax in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Signs Of Xanax Addiction

Because substance use disorders are not always simple to see in oneself or others, knowing the most prevalent signs and symptoms of SUDs can be beneficial. While it’s better if a healthcare expert makes a formal diagnosis, the following criteria can aid in the identification of a SUD. If you or a loved one has met two or more of the following criteria in the last 12 months, it’s time to seek treatment for addiction:

  • Taking Xanax in larger amounts or for a longer time period than originally intended.
  • Persistent desire to decrease Xanax use without success.
  • Significant time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from Xanax use and its effects.
  • Most or all daily activities revolve around the substance.
  • Cravings or an intense desire to use Xanax.
  • Recurrent Xanax use resulting in a failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continued Xanax use even when social or interpersonal consequences arise.
  • Giving up or less involved in important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of Xanax use.
  • Recurrent Xanax use even in situations where it is physically hazardous, like driving.
  • Continued Xanax use despite knowing that physical or psychological problems are being caused by or intensified by Xanax.
  • Tolerance that leads to needing more Xanax to achieve desired effect.
  • Withdrawal.

Xanax Effects

Xanax and other central nervous system depressants induce sleepiness or a sedative effect at first. A person may suffer the following symptoms if they continue to overuse the drug:

  • Slurred speech.
  • Poor focus.
  • Confusion.
  • Headache.
  • Light-headedness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Issues with movement and memory.
  • Lowered blood pressure.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Seizures.
  • Skin rash.

Xanax Withdrawal

If a person takes Xanax for longer than recommended and then abruptly stops or decreases their dosage, they may have severe withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be fatal.

Withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as a few hours after a person has stopped using Xanax and include:

  • Seizures.
  • Agitation.
  • Insomnia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Sweating.
  • Intense cravings.
  • Anxiety.
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Tremors.

Mixing Xanax With Alcohol And Other Drugs

Mixing Xanax with alcohol or other drugs, particularly opioids, is exceedingly risky since Xanax may induce major adverse effects and has a high potential for addiction on its own.

According to an assessment conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020, benzodiazepines, along with alcohol, prescription opioids, and other illegal substances, are commonly abused. When using Xanax, this combination might raise the chance of major side effects. Mixing Xanax and other benzodiazepines with opioids are risky since both medicines produce sleepiness and respiratory suppression, which is a common cause of overdose deaths.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a difficult illness to overcome, but it is curable. You are not alone if you or a loved one is battling with Xanax abuse, and assistance is available. Treatment for Xanax addiction is a step-by-step process that may include a variety of treatments of varying degrees of severity. It’s critical that Xanax addiction therapy is individualized to the individual, taking into account psychological, physical, social, and occupational demands.


The first stage in the healing process is detoxification. It can take place in both inpatient and outpatient settings and must include the following three elements:

  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Stabilization
  • Promoting patient readiness for treatment

People detoxing from CNS depressants should do it under medical supervision so that they can taper off slowly. 5 There are presently no FDA-approved drugs to treat sedative addiction such as Xanax addiction.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient therapy takes place in a facility that offers a secure setting for treatment and 24-hour care. Depending on the individual’s demands, inpatient therapy might last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The following are examples of inpatient care:

  • Residential inpatient services, with 24-hour care by trained counselors and medical providers.
  • Medically managed intensive inpatient services, with 24-hour nursing care and daily physician care, as well as counseling that is available 16 hours a day.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment options give patients the most flexibility by allowing them to keep their jobs, attend school, and care for their families while undergoing treatment and rehabilitation. Depending on the type of outpatient treatment, 5-20 hours of treatment per week is normal.

Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP): IOP is for those who require any medical or psychological therapies while yet being able to live at home. It necessitates 10-20 hours of therapy each week, with multiple evening or weekend group sessions common.

Partially hospitalized programs (PHP): need 4-8 hours of therapy per day and can be completed while the patient is still living at home.

Behavioral Therapy

Another key part of addiction treatment is behavioral therapy, which may be beneficial in the treatment of Xanax addiction. Individual, family, and group counseling are available in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement, and 12-step facilitation are examples of behavioral treatments. These treatments target the following issues:

  • Internal motivation for change.
  • Negative thought patterns and self-talk.
  • Coping strategies to manage stress and resist substances.