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Xanax Addiction Signs, Alprazolam Effects, Abuse & Treatment

Xanax is not only the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, but it is the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States. This persists despite the fact that many prescribers consider Xanax to have high misuse liability and it is shown to result in a more severe withdrawal syndrome than other benzodiazepines. Continue to read more about Xanax addiction and treatment.

Why is Xanax So Addictive? Xanax Addiction Signs

Alprazolam is sold under the brand name Xanax. Xanax can become addictive, especially if a person thinks they cannot manage their stress without it. Even people who take Xanax as recommended might get addicted to it. Tolerance to Xanax develops fast, requiring more frequent and greater doses.

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). 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.

Most prescribers with experience in addiction medicine consider Xanax to have high misuse liability, especially when prescribed to individuals with a history of some type of substance use disorder. Another study suggested that individuals with a history of alcohol or opiate use prefer Xanax to other benzodiazepines (eg, chlordiazepoxide and oxazepam) as they found it to be more rewarding. [2]

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a high-potency benzodiazepine that is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders.  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 [3]: 

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

Can You Get Addicted to Xanax?

Is Xanax Addictive? It can best be best answered with a resounding yes. With prolonged use, Xanax is 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.

Signs of Xanax Addiction

The following addiction to Xanax signs could indicate Xanax misuse and abuse:

  • You use Xanax every time drug withdrawals such as insomnia, depression, paranoia, and irritability start
  • You need to take more Xanax at more regular intervals as your tolerance increases
  • You disregard your family and friends in favor of taking drugs
  • You worry about your supply and when you can next use it
  • You continue to take it regardless of the effect it is having on your life
  • You become involved in more dangerous or risky behaviors

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

As the 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.

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:

  • Taking more than their prescribed dose of Xanax
  • Taking Xanax more frequently than prescribed
  • Buying Xanax illicitly
  • Using another person’s Xanax prescription
Xanax is taken by mouth and is readily absorbed into the bloodstream. You should start feeling the effects of Xanax in under an hour. Unfortunately many develop Xanax addiction due to its sedating effects.
Xanax is taken by mouth and is readily absorbed into the bloodstream. You should start feeling the effects of Xanax in under an hour. Unfortunately many develop Xanax addiction due to its sedating effects.
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Xanax (Alprazolam) Drug Facts

Generic Name: Alprazolam [ al-PRAY-Zoe-lam ]

Brand Names: Xanax, Xanax XR

Drug Class: Benzodiazepines

Controlled Substance: Xanax (alprazolam) is a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it has a low risk of abuse and dependence. However, this doesn’t mean that it is in any way less dangerous and addictive.

When taken over an extended length of time, Xanax and other Benzodiazepines can cause physical dependency and can be psychologically addictive in some people.

Alprazolam may be habit-forming. Do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or for a longer time than your doctor tells you to. Tell your doctor if you have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, if you use or have ever used street drugs, or have overused prescription medications.

Do not drink alcohol or use street drugs during your treatment. Drinking alcohol or using street drugs during your treatment with alprazolam also increases the risk that you will experience these serious, life-threatening side effects. Also, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had depression or another mental illness.

Alprazolam may cause physical dependence (a condition in which unpleasant physical symptoms occur if a medication is suddenly stopped or taken in smaller doses), especially if you take it for several days to several weeks. Do not stop taking this medication or take fewer doses without talking to your doctor. Stopping alprazolam suddenly can worsen your condition and cause withdrawal symptoms that may last for several weeks to more than 12 months. Your doctor probably will decrease your alprazolam dose gradually.

Call your doctor or get emergency medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Unusual movements
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Anxiety
  • Memory Problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Changes in mental health
  • Depression
  • Burning or prickling feeling in hands, arms, legs, or feet
  • Seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear
  • Thoughts of harming or killing yourself or others
  • Overexcitement
  • Losing touch with reality

Benzodiazepines Drug Facts Sheet by the DEA Publicly Made Available for Substance Use Disorder Awareness

Benzodiazepines (sometimes called “benzos”) work to calm or sedate a person, by raising the level of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Common benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin), among others.

In 2020, 16% of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines, a type of prescription sedative commonly prescribed for anxiety or to help with insomnia. [4]

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day, nearly 200 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines can increase risk of overdose because both types of drugs can cause sedation and suppress breathing—the cause of overdose fatality—in addition to impairing cognitive functions. Research shows that people who use opioids and benzodiazepines concurrently are at higher risk of visiting the emergency department, being admitted to a hospital for a drug-related emergency, and dying of drug overdose.

Xanax Addiction Rate & Statistics

Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and sedatives, are often used for the short-term treatment of anxiety and insomnia. While benzodiazepine use is highly prevalent among U.S. adults, public health experts have not known what proportion of benzodiazepine users misuse them or meet the criteria for benzodiazepine use disorders. Nevertheless, benzodiazepine use was associated with emergency room visits, mental disorders, suicidal ideation, and substance use.


Benzodiazepine use among U.S. adults is high and misuse accounted for nearly 20% of use overall.

Source: NCBI

30.5 Million

12.5% of adults in the United States use benzos. This equates to about 30.5 million people.

Source: NCBI


Benzodiazepine use among adults 50–64 has now exceeded use by those ≥65. 

Source: NCBI

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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

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 users describe feeling more relaxed, quiet, and tired. Unfortunately, certain adverse clinical events, some life-threatening, are a direct consequence of physical dependency on Xanax or Xanax addiction.
Xanax users describe feeling more relaxed, quiet, and tired. Unfortunately, certain adverse clinical events, some life-threatening, are a direct consequence of physical dependency on Xanax or Xanax addiction.

Xanax Side Effects

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

  • 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.

Can You Smoke Xanax?

Can you smoke a Xanax? No. The standard form of Xanax is in a small tablet to be taken orally. However, those who abuse the drug may crush up the tablets to snort or smoke it or dissolve it into a solution to be injected with a needle. Abusing Xanax (not taking the medication as recommended) increases tolerance, the risk of developing an addiction, and the risk of a drug overdose.

why is Xanax addictive? Individuals misuse Xanax if they have a prescription but the prescribed amount is no longer effective, if they get the medication fraudulently, or if they just steal it from someone else’s medicine cabinet and use it recreationally. Can you smoke weed on Xanax? No. Xanax and weed (marijuana) combination can cause uncomfortable and dangerous side effects.

In addition to the typical health hazards associated with substance abuse, there are a variety of dangers associated with various methods of drug ingestion, such as smoking Xanax. This form of being addicted to Xanax symptoms raises the rate of tolerance, the likelihood of establishing an addiction, and the risk of overdosing. All of that Xanax rushing to the brain at once causes central nervous system depression, which lowers heart rate and respiration. Overdose victims’ respiration rates might reduce to the point that they are no longer obtaining enough oxygen to the brain, putting them in danger of brain damage and death.

In case of overdose, if the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911. Symptoms of overdose may include drowsiness, confusion, problems with coordination, and loss of consciousness.

How Long Does It Take To Become Addicted To Xanax?

Is Xanax addicting? Yes. The rapid progression of Xanax usage from abuse to dependency and eventually addiction should be the reason for alarm. Taking a tablet every day, even for legal reasons, can swiftly develop into long-term effects such as abuse and Xanax addiction if prolonged beyond the approved short-term use. According to studies, over 40% of persons who use Xanax daily for severe anxiety for at least six weeks (the suggested timeframe is only 2-4 weeks) will develop an addiction.

Ativan vs Xanax Addiction

Ativan (lorazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) are both members of the benzodiazepine class of drugs used mainly to treat anxiety and other psychiatric disorders. Both drugs also have the potential for addiction. Stopping either Ativan or Xanax abruptly can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms, depending on how long a person has been taking the drug.

Xanax addiction becomes more dangerous as the individual increases their dose. You may also experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stop using Xanax.
Xanax addiction becomes more dangerous as the individual increases their dose. You may also experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stop using Xanax.

Drugs Like Xanax that Aren’t Addictive

Are you looking for a “Xanax alternative non addictive?” or “drugs like Xanax that aren t addictive?” While benzodiazepines are still widely used to treat anxiety disorders, there are superior alternatives that are typically safer and have a reduced risk of addiction. Several of these drugs can be used long-term, but it is crucial to discuss the possible advantages and drawbacks of each option with your doctor, as well as any long-term health implications a treatment option may have. Here are some of the non-addictive alternatives to Xanax:

  • SSRIs and SNRIs – For many prescribers, the non-addictive drugs of choice to treat anxiety disorders are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SSRIs and SNRIs have lower misuse potential and fewer long-term side effects associated with their use. SSRIs and SNRIs are considered the first-line treatment for chronic anxiety disorders.
  • Buspirone – Buspirone is a non-benzodiazepine anxiolytic that was originally used as an antipsychotic but was shown to be more effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It can be taken in place of or with SSRIs to reduce unpleasant side effects.
  • Hydroxyzine – Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine prescription used to treat allergies, but it also has sedative and anxiolytic properties. It has minimal to no addiction potential but, like benzos, helps to use as needed for short-term, acute anxiety and hence may be a decent option for someone who does who is looking for an alternative to Xanax non addictive.
  • Beta Blockers – Beta blockers are commonly used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). Nevertheless, it can also be a non addictive substitute for Xanax or be used to alleviate anxiety, particularly physical manifestations of anxiety such as trembling or sweating.

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Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

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. [5] Mixing Xanax and other benzodiazepines with opioids is 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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Medical Detox

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

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

It’s essential for people detoxing from benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, to do so under medical supervision so they can taper gradually.

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:

Xanax Addiction Treatment

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

Formal medical detox can help reduce needless harsh withdrawal suffering while minimizing the risks of Xanax addiction withdrawal.
Formal medical detox can help reduce needless harsh withdrawal suffering while minimizing the risks of Xanax addiction withdrawal.

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 residential settings.

There are numerous types of behavioral therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement, and 12-step program 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 Xanax addiction, finding the right treatment is an important first step to making positive changes in your life. The We Level Up addiction 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 treatment and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

Top 10 Xanax Drug Addiction FAQs

  1. What works like Xanax but not addictive?

    SSRIs and SNRIs are often the first-line treatment for anxiety. They are effective for a lot of people and they have a solid safety profile. Other safe alternatives are Buspirone for GAD, Hydroxyzine for short-term medication for anxiety, and beta blockers for particular physical manifestations of anxiety such as trembling or sweating.

  2. How long does it take to get addicted to Xanax?

    Between one to two weeks of sustained usage, it is possible to physically acquire a psychological Xanax addiction. It is impossible to deny the sensation of immediate and total relief from medically diagnosed anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or social anxiety disorder. Those who have been on the medicine for more than a week are more prone to develop physical and psychological Xanax addiction. If someone stops using or decreases the dose, they may have withdrawal symptoms.

  3. How addictive is Xanax?

    Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug that works quickly. It causes a significant alteration in the brain in a short amount of time. As a result, it is widely regarded as one of the most addictive benzodiazepine drugs available today. The risks are larger in persons who use 4 mg/day for more than 12 weeks, but anybody who abuses the medicine is at risk of addiction.

  4. Is Klonopin addictive like Xanax?

    Klonopin is the most addictive of the two benzodiazepine-prescribed drugs. The explanation for this is that Klonopin provides a stronger sense of euphoria. The more your brain encounters this sensation, the more you want to experience it again and again.

  5. Is hydroxyzine addictive like Xanax?

    Hydroxyzine (Atarax, Vistaril) and alprazolam (Xanax) are two commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications. Both drugs kick in quickly and share some common side effects, such as drowsiness and dry mouth. Xanax — especially high doses — can be habit-forming, but hydroxyzine does not have this risk.

  6. Is 0.25 mg of Xanax addictive? Is one .25 Xanax a day addictive?

    Yes, benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are particularly addictive medications. Is .25 mg of Xanax addictive? Are you searching for “Is .25 of Xanax addictive?” Yes. With recreational Xanax use, it can take just a couple of weeks to become dependent on the drug. The drug is extremely addictive and should only be used under a doctor’s supervision. 

  7. Is 1mg of Xanax addictive?

    Yes. People can become physically dependent on Xanax, especially if they take the medication every day or very often. 

  8. Can you be addicted to Xanax?

    Yes. All benzodiazepines carry a risk of misuse, diversion, tolerance, and physical dependence. Xanax addiction and diversion are more frequently seen in patients with a personal or family history of alcohol or drug misuse.

  9. Why do people get addicted to Xanax?

    Xanax addiction potential stems from its unique pharmacokinetic properties of rapid absorption, low lipophilicity, short half-life (t1/2), and pharmacodynamic properties of high potency and more severe withdrawal symptoms occurring after a shorter period of use. 

  10. Are Xanax addictive?

    Yes. Even if taken as prescribed, one can form a tolerance and Xanax addiction. Outside of Xanax and Valium, other prescription medications have high abuse potential, including Klonopin, Ativan, and Halcion.

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Search We Level Up Xanax Addiction Detox, Mental Health Topics & Resources

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

[2] Ait-Daoud N, Hamby AS, Sharma S, Blevins D. A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal. J Addict Med. 2018 Jan/Feb;12(1):4-10. DOI: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000350. PMID: 28777203; PMCID: PMC5846112.

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

[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse (2022) – Benzodiazepines and Opioids

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

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

[7] George TT, Tripp J. Alprazolam. [Updated 2022 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:

[8] Bounds CG, Nelson VL. Benzodiazepines. [Updated 2022 Nov 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:

[9] Griffin CE 3rd, Kaye AM, Bueno FR, Kaye AD. Benzodiazepine pharmacology and central nervous system-mediated effects. Ochsner J. 2013 Summer;13(2):214-23. PMID: 23789008; PMCID: PMC3684331.

[10] Fluyau D, Charlton TE. Drug Addiction. [Updated 2022 Aug 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:

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