Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine that has been used to treat anxiety disorders since the 1970s. It is also an extremely effective remedy for several health issues.

Although an effective means of treatment, Xanax is one of the most addictive prescription drugs on the market. Taking Xanax for a prolonged period eventually leads to psychological and physical dependence.

This blog post explores what Xanax is, how it affects the brain, and the addiction treatment options available.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name of alprazolam, a prescription drug that is part of the benzodiazepine family. A group of drugs that produce a calming effect on the central nervous system and brain, benzodiazepines typically work by enhancing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Through slowing down nerve cell activity, users begin to feel relaxed.

After taking Xanax, the effects of the drug are typically felt within one to two hours. They often last for 15 hours.

Xanax is the number one prescription drug in the United States. Doctors quickly prescribe it as a short-term treatment option due to its fast-acting relief of symptoms relating to anxiety.

Effective Treatment for Panic Disorders

Xanax comes in the form of a pill that is taken orally, with a course of treatment typically lasting for one to two weeks. However, Xanax can also be used on an as-and-when basis for panic attacks. In many circumstances, a person’s dosage is individualized according to their age, response to other treatments, and underlying medical conditions.

Many people who develop a Xanax addiction initially start taking the drug to combat symptoms of anxiety, one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States.

As noted above, Xanax relaxes the body in the short term and eases feelings of restlessness and anxiety. However, the drug must be taken with care, as research suggests that continued daily benzodiazepine use for six weeks or more can result in dependency.

If Xanax abuse is prolonged, there is a greater risk of developing a psychological and physical dependency on the drug. Risks are higher among those who take a dose of 4mg a day for longer than 12 weeks. However, anyone who abuses Xanax is at risk of developing an addiction.

Xanax Addiction and Dependency

Xanax is a Schedule IV medication, meaning it is safe for medical use but has the potential for abuse and addiction. Even those prescribed Xanax are at risk of developing a dependency or addiction.

Xanax has gained popularity due to its calming and relaxing properties; many people abuse it for these exact feelings, and some even combine it with other drugs or alcohol to intensify their desired high. Xanax produces these feelings by increasing dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is associated with feelings of happiness and reward. If dopamine is released after taking a drug, it’s not uncommon for users to experience an urge to repeat the action, which can sadly encourage addiction.

The first sign of dependency is an increased tolerance to Xanax. When tolerance develops, a larger dose will be needed to feel the desired effects. Even if taken to treat anxiety, Xanax eventually stops working, which encourages many people to take a more considerable dose to combat any symptoms they may experience.

As more significant quantities of Xanax are taken, the brain becomes reliant on the drug to feel normal. If Xanax abuse suddenly stops, adverse side effects can arise. These side effects often include insomnia, tremors, and increased anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms suggest that a physical dependence and Xanax addiction is present.

Xanax addiction is recognized as a substance abuse disorder. Substance abuse arises when a person continues to abuse a drug despite harmful consequences to their life. A person may continue to abuse Xanax to avoid any withdrawal effects that may be felt if use is ceased.

Side Effects of Use

As mentioned, the short-term effects of Xanax are anxiety relief and relaxation. Some other common side effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Shifts in mood
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of inhibition

Signs of Xanax Addiction

Although there is no set cause for addiction, there are a number of influencing factors that could determine whether a person develops an addiction or not, such as environment, life experiences, or genetics.

Signs of addiction are similar for all drug use. Some common signs of Xanax addiction are:

  • Increased tolerance to the drug, resulting in an increase in the dose needed
  • Using Xanax to eradicate withdrawal symptoms
  • Loss of control over how much or how often Xanax is taken
  • Negative consequences to relationships, finances, and daily life
  • Risk-taking behaviors

Xanax Overdose

Xanax addiction could result in life-threatening consequences, such as an overdose. However, it is important to remember that treatment is available.

Physical Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical addiction to Xanax is evident when any withdrawal symptoms are felt when a person stops taking the drug. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, although it has been noted that Xanax withdrawal symptoms are more intense than other benzodiazepines.

Mild symptoms can be felt as soon as one week after taking the drug. Some withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty breathing

Because of the severity of some withdrawal symptoms, those taking Xanax should not quit cold turkey. Instead, we highly recommended undergoing the withdrawal process through medical detox in a treatment center, such as our own.

In doing so, those suffering from Xanax addiction will have an effective treatment plan that will assist them in combating addiction and help them begin their journey towards a happy and healthy life.

The withdrawal process involves slowly tapering off the drug and eventually switching to a long-acting form of the drug. This helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction Treatment Options

Overcoming any substance use disorder can be challenging, especially if severe withdrawal symptoms arise. But with the right professional medical advice, anyone struggling can begin their road to recovery with comfort and ease. Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help, as many treatment options are available to help treat Xanax addiction.

More often than not, those who seek addiction treatment have a co-occurring mental illness, so most treatment options will address any underlying conditions that could have contributed to addiction, such as anxiety or depression.

Those who seek treatment can expect a treatment process that may include:

  • Therapy. Therapy typically includes family therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been found to be effective when reducing benzodiazepine use over three months.
  • Medication. The detox period for Xanax is thought to be longer than the detox period for other drugs, as the process needs to be done through tapering. A person may be prescribed additional medication to help treat anxiety, depression, or a sleep disorder.

Contact Us Today

Although many people think that prescription drugs are harmless as they treat illnesses, as we can see, Xanax is an addictive drug. If an addiction to Xanax transpires, professional intervention and treatment should be sought.

If you believe you or a loved one may have a Xanax addiction, contact us today. Our healthcare professionals can talk to you about our treatment options and treatment facilities and help you take the first step in your drug dependence recovery.

Begin the first day of the rest of your life

To find out more contact our team

RELATED ARTICLES

A person suffering from anxiety disorder because they never found out the answer to the question: "what is an anxiety disorder"
Mental Health

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

And do I have an anxiety disorder? Sweaty palms. Rapid breath. Racing heartbeat. A feeling like you can’t get enough breath? Like the walls are

Read More »

Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine