Is Xanax Addictive?

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: March 15, 2022

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.

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