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What is Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, a class of drugs known as central nervous system depressants because they produce a sedative effect [1]. Xanax comes in tablet form and is used to treat seizure disorders and specific anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces).

Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for short periods, such as weeks or months, because of their high potential for addiction. Common street names for Xanax and other benzodiazepines include [2]: 

  • Benzos
  • Bricks
  • Bars
  • Z-bars
  • Planks
  • Blues

Is Xanax Addictive?

Is Xanax addictive? Can best be best answered with a resounding yes. With prolonged use, Xanax is quite addictive. Xanax produces a sedative effect, releases dopamine, and affects the brain’s pleasure center. That is at the core of how Xanax’s addictive traits can lead to a serious Xanax drug addiction.

Xanax Addiction

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How Does Xanax Work?

Xanax and benzos are medications that increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows brain activity. This can result in a sense of calmness and drowsiness, which makes them effective at treating anxiety disorder[3]. Since Xanax can cause drowsiness, individuals under the influence of Xanax should avoid activities that could be hazardous, like driving or operating machinery.

Xanax Addiction

Substance use disorders (SUDs), including Xanax addiction, occur when a person’s substance use causes changes in the brain’s chemistry, which leads to uncontrolled use, regardless of the harmful consequences. Xanax abuse can begin when a person is not taking the medication as prescribed, such as:

Xanax Addiction
Xanax is taken by mouth and is readily absorbed into the bloodstream. You should start feeling the effects of Xanax in under an hour.
  • Taking more than their prescribed dose of Xanax
  • Taking Xanax more frequently than prescribed
  • Buying Xanax illicitly
  • Using another person’s Xanax prescription

As a person uses Xanax over time, their body and brain can develop a dependency on the drug, meaning that when they reduce their use or stop using altogether, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. The desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms may lead some people to keep using Xanax. It is important to note that dependency is not the same as addiction. However, many individuals who develop addiction are most likely dependent on the substance of abuse. Thus, the answer to Xanax being addictive is clearly yes.

Xanax Addiction Symptoms

What are the signs someone is abusing Xanax? While someone abusing Xanax may not take the drug all the time, Xanax abuse can still lead to various issues. Most alarmingly, abuse can lead to addiction and result in multiple problems in the person’s life, especially if they put off going to drug rehab.

Therefore, getting someone’s help at the first warning signs of Xanax abuse is better to avoid this escalation. Unfortunately, because these signs may be subtle, this can be challenging. In contrast, Xanax addiction symptoms often include physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms that are more noticeable. If you suspect someone you love is misusing this drug, look for signs of abuse or these Xanax addiction symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Headache or Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Increased Salivation
  • Decreased Sex Drive
  • Constipation
  • Lack Of Coordination
  • Confusion
  • Mood Swings
  • Strange or risky changes in behavior
  • Poor Memory
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal Symptoms when not on the drug
  • Taking more Xanax than prescribed
  • Obtaining Xanax without a prescription
  • Signs of doctor shopping
  • Lying or being generally secretive
  • Financial Problems
  • Social Withdrawal

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Physical Signs of Xanax Abuse & Misuse

Physical signs of Xanax abuse may be the most apparent indicator that someone is high on Xanax. Still, some of these symptoms only occur when the person is currently under the influence of the drug and taking a higher dose than recommended. As a result, if you are not around the person at this time, you may not see any Xanax abuse symptoms. Some of the physical symptoms of Xanax abuse are also similar to those of other drugs. For this reason, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish which drug your loved one is abusing.

Xanax Effects

Central nervous system depressants such as Xanax initially cause drowsiness or a sedative effect. With continued misuse, a person may experience:

Xanax Addiction
Xanax users describe feeling more relaxed, quiet, and tired.
  • Slurred Speech
  • Poor Focus
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Light-Headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Issues with Movement and Memory
  • Lowered Blood Pressure
  • Slowed Breathing
  • Seizures
  • Skin Rash

It is important to seek medical attention immediately if any of the above symptoms are present.

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Xanax Withdrawal

If Xanax is used longer than indicated and a person suddenly stops taking it or reduces their use, they may experience acute withdrawal symptoms, some of which may be life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours after a person’s last use of Xanax and may include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Intense Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tremors

A medically supervised detoxification program is often necessary for someone who is trying to stop Xanax misuse, as withdrawing from Xanax can be dangerous. A professional medical treatment setting provides a safe environment with 24-hour supervision where a person can detox with doctors and nurses on-site.

Mixing Xanax With Alchohol And Other Drugs

Since Xanax can cause serious side effects and has a high potential for addiction on its own, it is extremely dangerous to mix Xanax with alcohol or other drugs, particularly opioids. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review from 2020 found that benzodiazepines are widely misused along with alcohol, prescription opioids, and other illicit drugs.

This combination can increase the risk of serious consequences when using Xanax [4]. Mixing Xanax and other benzodiazepines with opioids are dangerous because both medications cause sedation and suppress breathing, which is often the cause of overdose fatalities. If you or a loved one has been prescribed Xanax, it is vital to alert your physician to what medications you are already taking before using Xanax to prevent any potential adverse combinations.

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Xanax Addiction Treatment

Xanax Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition, but it is treatable. If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax use, you are not alone, and help is available. Treatment for Xanax addiction occurs on a continuum and can involve different types of services with varying intensity. Treatment for Xanax addiction must be tailored to the individual to address the whole person, including psychological, physical, social, and vocational needs.


Detoxification is an important first step in the recovery process. It can take place in both inpatient and outpatient facilities and should include these 3 essential components:

  • Evaluation and Assessment
  • Stabilization
  • Promoting Client Readiness for Treatment

It’s essential for people detoxing from CNS depressants to do so under medical supervision so they can taper gradually. Unfortunately, there are currently no FDA-approved medications that treat addiction to sedatives like Xanax.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment takes place in a facility that provides a safe environment for treatment that provides around-the-clock care. Inpatient treatment can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the needs of each person. Types of inpatient care can include:

  • Residential Inpatient Services: With 24-hour care by trained specialists 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 provide maximum flexibility by allowing people to maintain their obligations at work, and home while in a treatment and recovery program. It typically involves 5-20 hours of treatment per week, depending on the type of outpatient treatment.

  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP): It is for those who need multiple medical or psychological services while residing at home. It requires 10-20 hours of treatment a week, often involving several evening or weekend group sessions.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP): The treatment require 4-8 hours of treatment each day and can also be completed while the person lives at home.

Outpatient services are often available in the evenings or on weekends so as not to interfere with typical work or school hours.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is another important aspect of addiction treatment and may be useful in treating Xanax addiction. Therapies can include individual, family, and group counseling in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

There are numerous types of behavioral therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement, and 12-step facilitation. These therapies work to address the following:

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

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, finding the right treatment is an important first step to making positive changes in your life. At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support through Xanax addiction and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our professionals know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

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[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Benzodiazepines and Opioids.

[2] U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). Substance Use Prescription Drugs.

[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription CNS Depressants Drug-Facts.

[4] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). FDA Requiring Boxed Warning Updated to Improve Safe Use of Benzodiazepine Drug Class

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