Xanax: A Prescription Addiction

Xanax prescription Addiction

Xanax is the brand name of the drug alprazolam, which is a potent benzodiazepine, a type of prescription tranquilizer. These types of drugs are also commonly called sedatives or anxiolytics. They are very commonly used in the United States to treat the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Withdrawal symptoms for alcohol abuse disorder recovery
  • Used as a muscle relaxant

Benzodiazepines affect the central nervous system to sedate a person and relax their muscles. They are also used to manage anxiety. The FDA has approved less than 20 benzodiazepines in the United States. There are three classifications, based on how much time it takes for effects to wear off:

  • Ultra-short acting
  • Short-acting
  • Long-acting

Benzodiazepines are abused because of their calming or sedative effect. However, these drugs can be highly addictive, so it is still possible that an abuse disorder may develop. They are commonly taken in instances of overdose, whether accidental or intentional. Many people will have legitimate reasons for using benzodiazepines, and if they follow their doctor’s prescription and dosage, it is less likely that they will end up abusing the drug. 

Many that are taking it as prescribed can still develop an addiction and build tolerance without even realizing it. Because of its habit-forming nature and its potential to be addictive, Xanax is not recommended for use over long periods.

How is Xanax Used?

Xanax is most often taken orally and bought at pharmacies with a prescription from a physician. Like most medications, a doctor determines the dosage. Because Xanax can be dangerous in large doses, it is important for those taking it to follow their doctor’s instructions well.

Tolerances to Xanax develop quickly, so users need more and more to get the same effects. This increases the chances of an overdose, making addictions quite unsafe. When someone develops tolerance and experiences withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking Xanax, it could mean that dependence is settling in, and the risk of addiction may be increasing.

For that reason, Xanax addiction can be quite harmful. When people stop taking the drug abruptly, they may experience side effects and withdrawal symptoms that may include anxiety, insomnia, tremors, general agitation, seizures, and even death. Doctors may lower doses gradually to avoid these effects.

Signs of Xanax Abuse

The effects of Xanax are quite intense and take action fairly quickly. People that abuse Xanax will often appear exhausted, unmotivated, and lacking energy. When Xanax is abused for a while, physical and psychological dependency may develop, and the person may become addicted.

A person abusing Xanax may also experience some other symptoms, like:

  • Feeling drowsy or light-headed
  • Sleeping in excessive amounts
  • Difficulty with cognitive tasks
  • Lethargy or feeling sluggish, weakness or losing coordination
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea, throwing up, or vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Issues with memory
  • Delirium
  • Slurred speech

They may also experience adverse changes in behavior, like:

  • Using Xanax excessively, or not being able to stop using Xanax
  • Being indifferent to the things they used to be passionate about
  • Engaging in more risky behavior or using other drugs with Xanax
  • Mania or manic states (extreme elation or happiness)
  • Lying or being dishonest (usually to procure money for pills) 

Like other addictions, Xanax affects other parts of a person’s life. Relationships may take a hit and careers are affected. Users end up spending a lot of their money on pills.

Risks Involved with Xanax Abuse

When a person takes a lot of Xanax, they could even feel its sedative effects for a couple of days. In large doses, Xanax can be very dangerous as it affects the respiratory system. In extreme cases, overdose can lead to coma and even death.

Using benzodiazepines (like Xanax) together with other drugs like alcohol or opioids (like heroin), even smaller doses of Xanax can be very hazardous, causing similar effects as large doses. 

As a tranquilizer, Xanax could also increase the risk of car accidents if people drive under its influence. They become less responsive and have slower reaction times, similar to the effect of other depressants like alcohol.

Using Xanax for long periods can lead to addiction and have very negative effects on a person’s health and well-being, like:

  • Increased risk of depression and dementia
  • Changes in affect (being more aggressive)
  • Increased impulsivity and lower decision-making ability
  • Long-term cognitive impairment
  • Psychosis 

Intervention and Rehabilitation for Xanax Abuse

If someone abuses and gets addicted to or dependent on Xanax, seeking professional help is always recommended. As mentioned, suddenly stopping Xanax can be very distressing, and even unsafe.

A doctor or professional that specializes in interventions may know how to help someone with an addiction to manage it both physically and mentally. They can also help the family play a supportive role and deal with the difficulties that the drug may have caused.

People rarely employ the “cold turkey” approach, again because of the side effects and withdrawal symptoms. A doctor or interventionist will probably have someone that has been abusing Xanax gradually lower their dose to wean them off of it. There are also in-patient institutions that have helped many people recover and return to their normal lives. 

What To Do If You Think You Know Someone That May Be Abusing Xanax

If you suspect that someone you know may be abusing Xanax, be sure to approach them tactfully. Xanax addiction can make people agitated and abrasive. If you decide to talk to them, let them know that you care about them and that you are speaking out of concern. They may not be fully aware of their addiction or may be in denial about it.

If you are with someone that is undergoing rehabilitation, be sure to stay supportive and be a good influence. Addiction is most often overcome by those with a strong support system. Your presence makes a difference. If you are struggling with Xanax addiction, contact a treatment provider or your physician.

If you or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment in Catalina Island, CA and don’t know where to turn, we, at Roots Through Recovery can help. Reach out today to get started. Visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 275-3498 for immediate assistance.



Xanax is a prescription tranquilizer often abused for its sedative effect. Frequent users develop an addiction quickly, with growing tolerance to the drug, despite multiple studies showing its harmful effects in larger doses.

Although Xanax helps ease the symptoms of certain conditions, other medical conditions can spring up from Xanax abuse, like slurred speech, loss of focus or passion, lethargy, vertigo, and much more.

The long-lasting health risks Xanax abuse can impose will never be worth the temporary euphoria it provides.

To help yourself or a loved one avoid Xanax abuse or any kind of addiction at all, check out Addiction Recovery Blog.


Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not necessarily reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.

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