Blog

March 8, 2022 By The Owls Nest

Is Xanax Addictive?

What Is Xanax?

Xanax, which is also known as alprazolam, belongs to the group of prescription medications known as benzodiazepines. For individuals that suffer from panic and anxiety disorders, Xanax can be an extremely effective form of treatment. Xanax is also a fast-acting benzodiazepine medication. This means that it brings about enormous change in an individual’s brain in a short period of time. With all of the benefits that Xanax can provide, the question then becomes, is Xanax addictive?

Xanax is considered to be one of the most addictive benzodiazepine medications that are on the market today. So, is Xanax addictive? Yes.  It is also extremely potent. The risks of developing a Xanax addiction are extremely higher in individuals who take doses of 4 mg a day for longer than 12 weeks. Any individual who engages in Xanax abuse can become addicted to the medication though. 

Xanax was first approved for the overall treatment of panic disorders in 1970. As years have passed, it has grown to be thoroughly recognized as an effective remedy for the following conditions:

  • Nausea caused by chemotherapy
  • Health issues 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 

Abuse of Xanax

Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that it’s considered to have a low potential for abuse. However, the evidence speaks for itself, as there are thousands of individuals who seek treatment every year for drug dependency on Xanax. 

It was stated in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2012 alone that 17,019 individuals were admitted to treatment facilities all across the nation quoting benzodiazepines like Xanax as their fundamental or singular drug of abuse.   

There were also over 48 million prescriptions written for Xanax in 2013. 

While this statistic is rapidly changing, mainly because of increased awareness of the drug’s potential for abuse, millions of American individuals still engage in the use and abuse of Xanax and other benzodiazepines such as Klonopin and Valium. Consequently, more than 33,000 individuals were admitted to emergency rooms for benzodiazepine overdoses in 2010. 

Overall, benzodiazepines are considered to be some of the most highly addictive prescription drugs on the market. Thus, how addictive is Xanax? Well, an individual can become hooked to this drug in a matter of just weeks. Even according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, daily benzodiazepine use for six weeks or more can result in dependency for four in every 10 users. 

Xanax Addiction 

Addiction is characterized by both physical and psychological dependency. To manage Xanax withdrawal effects, it is ideal to taper off of benzodiazepines on a schedule that will allow the dosage of the drug to be decreased by 25% for every quarter of the withdrawal period. Similar to all other benzodiazepines, or drugs for that matter, withdrawal from Xanax should only be completed via medical detox to ensure the patient’s safety. 

Today, doctors are reducing the number of Xanax prescriptions dramatically. However, the drug is still readily accessible on the street, which is where individuals often use the drug anyway. 

Many individuals can use Xanax safely. There are millions of individuals that struggle with Xanax abuse. The question then goes from, is Xanax addictive to why is Xanax so addictive? 

Individuals who engage in Xanax abuse are at high risk for addiction when taking the drug because of the following:

  • The person is taking the drug for an extended period of time.
  • An individual is mixing Xanax with various other drugs.
  • A person is using a high dosage of Xanax. 

There have been recent studies that have showcased the use of Xanax and addiction, along with how it’s becoming a growing concern in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), prescription drugs such as Xanax are the most commonly abused drugs among individuals over the age of 14 years old other than marijuana and alcohol. In 2011 alone, according to a national survey of emergency room departments, there were over 150,000 emergency hospitalizations for Xanax misuse in the United States. 

What Are the Effects That Xanax Has on the Brain and Body?

Xanax on the Brain 

The effects that Xanax has on an individual’s brain and body are apparent when dependency and tolerance on the drug form. Many individuals who abuse Xanax initially start using prescription drugs to help treat their anxiety disorders. This is significant, as Everyday Health reported, 20% of Americans struggle with anxiety. Thus, many people are prescribed Xanax.  

Throughout the entire time that a person is taking Xanax, the brain is becoming more and more dependent on the drug to feel normal. Individuals who are mentally addicted to Xanax won’t be able to keep their minds or thoughts off of the substance when they are addicted to Xanax. Thus, quitting Xanax use without professional intervention is exceedingly difficult to do.  

Because the mind of a person with a Xanax addiction is compulsively driven to use again, the mental impact of a person withdrawing from Xanax can be extraordinarily turbulent. An individual’s mind can grow accustomed to Xanax and can then experience periods of depression, paranoia, irritability, and insomnia while trying to come off of the drug. 

Xanax Tolerance and Dependency

When Xanax is used medicinally, dependency will still typically occur. Tolerance on Xanax is considered to be the first sign of Xanax dependency or addiction. When it comes to tolerance, Xanax begins to stop working though, even as a form of treatment medication. 

People that suffer from anxiety that have an increased tolerance to Xanax will see a return of their addiction and withdrawal symptoms. People with Xanax dependency and a high Xanax tolerance might even begin to feel inclined to increase their overall dosage of the drug. This is to keep the withdrawal and addiction symptoms at bay. 

Most of the Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be properly treated during medical detox to make the process as comfortable as possible. According to the Journal of Addictive Behaviors, as many as 44% of chronic benzodiazepine users eventually become dependent on their drugs of choice. Addiction is frequently due to various psychological factors that can influence individuals to keep engaging in Xanax use. 

Xanax on the Body

Physical addiction to Xanax is evident when an individual’s body can no longer function properly or healthily without the actual substance. So, is Xanax addictive? The answer is yes. Physical Xanax addiction is marked by Xanax withdrawal symptoms that result when the substance is discontinued. 

The common side effects of Xanax on the body include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Blurred visions
  • Convulsions
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting 
  • Nausea 

It’s important to remember that physical dependency on Xanax develops as time goes on. Thus, an individual’s body becomes more and more accustomed to that substance. Without Xanax,  an individual that suffers from Xanax dependency might experience an achiness all over his or her body as that person’s body begins processing the substance out. Such pain and discomfort can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. 

The above-mentioned side effects, among many others, are considered to be common occurrences that land many individuals in emergency rooms when they attempt to try to detox from Xanax without professional help. Last year alone, 44,796 individuals were treated in American emergency rooms for problems that stem from the use and abuse of benzodiazepines like Xanax. 

What Are the Side Effects of Xanax Use?

Numerous side effects occur in individuals that are addicted to Xanax. Xanax is commonly swallowed in pill form, but some individuals crush it up or either inject the drug into their systems or snort the drug. When individuals who are addicted to Xanax attempt to use the drug in different ways, they are ultimately hoping to enhance or hasten the drug’s overall effects. 

Common Short Term Side Effects

  • Difficultes concentrating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadnesses
  • Slowed breathing
  • Impaired memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion

It’s important to remember that benzodiazepines such as Xanax have been associated with suicidal and depressive thoughts, especially when it’s taken in excess. Xanax can be most dangerous when it’s taken with alcohol, various other prescription drugs, or other over-the-counter medications. 

Mixing drugs can slow an individual’s breathing and heart rate. When this process occurs, individuals become more at risk for the following issues:

  • Impaired oxygen exchange 
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Coma and death

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction?

There are many signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction. It’s vital to be aware of the side effects of Xanax use before actually taking the drug or medication. Likewise, it’s essential to pay attention to how your body reacts before performing tasks such as operating heavy machinery or driving. Some specifics occur from person to person, but the common side effects of Xanax are:

  • Drowsiness and tiredness
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Sweating and chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation 
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea 

Severe Side Effects of Xanax 

  • Dangerously low or increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate and breathing 
  • Restlessness and anxiousness
  • Respiratory depression 
  • Lightheadnesses
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Confusion 
  • Fainting 

The common side effects of Xanax are typically expected to resolve within a couple of days. An individual’s doctor might recommend at-home remedies that can alleviate some of the discomforts that the side effects of Xanax use can cause. 

It’s not advised that you manage the more severe Xanax side effects by yourself. It is indicated that there is a need to seek out medical attention right away when suffering from severe Xanax side effects. That way such side effects progress to complex health issues or accidental overdoses. 

Symptoms of Xanax Addiction 

One of the most serious symptoms of taking Xanax is addiction. Addiction occurs when a person’s brain makes chemical changes to itself due to excessive substance use and drug dependency.  Addiction is a disease that influences an individual’s brain as well as his or her behavior. Individuals who struggle with addiction lose all of their control over their drug use and cannot stop using, even if they wanted to. 

Drug addiction generally presents itself differently in each person. Still, the below-mentioned signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction to stay aware of include: 

  • Insisting on always having Xanax, especially in stressful situations
  • Taking Xanax just in case or as a preventive measure
  • Taking Xanax before operating machinery or driving
  • Difficulties focusing and remembering things
  • General lack of awareness of surroundings
  • Taking Xanax with alcohol or other drugs
  • Obsession or always thinking of the drug Xanax
  • Taking more Xanax than prescribed
  • Using Xanax outside a prescription 
  • Always taking Xanax 
  • Impaired physical coordination
  • Sedation and drowsiness
  • Irritability and agitation 
  • Hiding Xanax usage
  • Constricted pupils
  • Mood swings
  • Runny nose
  • Constipation
  • Depression 
  • Confusion

Xanax Addiction Treatment Awaits at The Owl’s Nest Today

Research has discovered that a combination of therapy and medication is the most effective way to increase recovery chances when an individual is quitting Xanax use. For some individuals, multiple or long-term treatments are needed in order to maintain stable recovery

There are several different behavioral therapy approaches that have been found effective for the treatment of Xanax addiction. Seeking out help for Xanax addiction is challenging because of the powerful dependence, tolerance, and cravings that occur when one receives this help.  Fortunately, treatment centers are able to be extremely helpful at any stage in the addiction treatment process. Treatment is anything that’s readily accessible and that can provide tools that help change your life and addiction for the better.