Xanax Addiction Symptoms & Warning Signs

Understanding Xanax Abuse & Addiction

Learn more about Xanax abuse & addiction

Xanax, which is the brand name for alprazolam, is an antianxiety medication that is categorized as a benzodiazepine. This substance is a central nervous system depressant, which is effective in calming down those who struggle with an anxiety disorder. While Xanax can be highly beneficial for those who require it for anxiety disorders, similar to other benzos, Xanax holds great potential to be abused. When recreationally used, Xanax brings on feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Therefore, substances such as these are often used with other substances (like stimulants) to help even out the effects of those drugs. When the misuse of Xanax is repeated, it is possible for an individual to become addicted to it, and an addiction to Xanax can be tremendously challenging to overcome. Luckily, there are treatment options available to help individuals struggling with an addiction to Xanax obtain recovery.


Statistics on Xanax abuse & addiction

The fifth and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that 0.5% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 have likely abused prescription antianxiety medications within a year, with men being more likely than women to do so. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 2.2 million people abused tranquilizers like Xanax in 2010. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that emergency room visits due to Xanax abuse have more than doubled, going from 57,000 visits in 2005 to nearly 124,000 visits in 2011.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Xanax abuse & addiction

Studies have shown that there are a variety of genetic and environmental risk factors for abusing Xanax, including:

Genetic: An individual’s genes can impact his or her chances of developing Xanax use disorder. These genes can play an exceptionally high role in an individual’s vulnerability to abuse Xanax during adolescence and adulthood. Additionally, specific personality traits, including novelty-seeking behavior and impulsiveness, can serve as factors in an individual’s chances of abusing this substance.

Risk Factors:

  • Personality traits such as impulsivity or having a strong desire for new experiences
  • Personal history of substance abuse or mental illness
  • Easy access to Xanax
  • Age; people in their teens or twenties, or those older than 40, are more likely to abuse Xanax
  • Family history of substance abuse or mental illness
  • Women are at a higher risk than men for abusing Xanax

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Xanax abuse & addiction

Each individual’s battle with Xanax can look different, however, some of the most common signs that an individual is struggling with Xanax use disorder can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Giving up social, work, or recreational activities in favor of using Xanax
  • Continuing to abuse Xanax even when doing so can place a person at risk of physical harm
  • Not keeping up with work, home, or social obligations
  • Continuing to abuse Xanax even if one is experiencing significant psychological or physical problems as a result of use
  • Visiting multiple different physicians in an attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions
  • Spending a great deal of time using Xanax or recovering from Xanax use
  • Taking more Xanax, or taking it over a longer period of time, than intended
  • Being unsuccessful in attempts to reduce one’s use of Xanax
  • Investing a lot of time and energy in obtaining Xanax

Physical symptoms:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Needing a higher dose of Xanax in order to experience desired effects, known as tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal, which is a collection of unpleasant symptoms that emerge when one attempts to stop taking Xanax

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Having cravings or intense desires for Xanax
  • Poor memory
  • Poor judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Experiencing significant social problems due to Xanax use
  • Fluctuations in mood


Effects of Xanax abuse & addiction

Xanax abuse can cause serious devastation throughout an individual’s life. Some of the most destructive effects can include:

  • Financial difficulties
  • Relationship tension
  • Vehicle accidents due to driving while high
  • Decline in work performance
  • Demotion or job loss
  • Organ damage
  • Death
  • Polysubstance use
  • Legal problems
  • Divorce
  • Loss of child custody
  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms

Co-Occuring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders

Those who are struggling with Xanax use disorder might also suffer from symptoms of other mental health conditions, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Other substance use disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Depressive disorders

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Xanax withdrawal and overdose

Effects of Xanax withdrawal: When an individual has been abusing Xanax for a long period of time and tries to stop or curb his or her use, he or she can go through a number of painful withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Tremors or shaking
  • Temporary hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Twitching or jitteriness
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

Effects of Xanax overdose: An individual might take more Xanax than his or her body can handle. When this occurs, it is called an overdose, and it can be lethal, especially if an individual has been abusing Xanax with other substances. An individual who has been abusing Xanax and shows any of the following symptoms should obtain immediate medical help:

  • Changes in vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Delirium
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Loss of motor control
  • Weakness
  • Hallucinations