Xanax Abuse and Addiction:
Every Fact You Need to Know About

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Xanax is a prescription medication prescribed for those suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. It interacts with GABA receptors, decreasing overall brain activity and providing a tranquil effect.

However, this popular prescription drug is often misused when larger doses are taken to achieve a feeling of euphoria. Such practice can lead to drug abuse, and even users becoming addicted.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a member of the benzodiazepine family. It is a psychoactive drug that produces a calming effect for the brain and central nervous system and is prescribed to manage the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders.

Like other benzodiazepines, Xanax enhances chemicals in the brain, providing a calming state. Doctors will prescribe a dosage, which comes in white, blue or orange tables, according to the patient’s medical condition which may increase or decrease depending on the required dosage.

Even when used under the guidance of a medical professional, regular Xanax consumption can be addictive, and patients may feel the withdrawal symptoms when they cease using it. The risk of addiction increases when the drug is misused, when higher than normal dosages are taken or when taken for an extended time.

When someone exhibits withdrawal symptoms, it’s a key indicator that the user is addicted to the drug.

A Brief History of Xanax

In an attempt to create a less addictive and safer alternative to barbiturates and meprobamate, Dr. Leo Sternbach created the first benzodiazepine in 1956. Alprazolam, under the brand name of Xanax, was first marketed in the U.S. in 1981. What sets it apart from other benzodiazepines is that it has an intermediate onset of action.

Xanax also has a shorter half-life, which means it is eliminated from the body faster than its Valium or Librium counterparts. It quickly gained popularity as treatment for anxiety disorders, mainly in part due to its rapid relief of symptoms and it did not decrease in effectiveness, even when used for several years.

While overdosing from Xanax alone is not common, combining Xanax with other drugs or alcohol has been proven deadly. It has been linked to a number of celebrity deaths including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Heath Ledger.

Xanax Overdose

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association, Xanax is the main drug believed to be abused among the prescribed benzodiazepines. A research conducted in 2012 also states that 17,019 individuals were confined in different treatment centers due to benzo abuse such as Xanax.

There’s a high risk of developing Xanax dependence after just a few weeks of use even if the patient is only taking a low dosage. A patient who takes Xanax on a daily basis for six weeks will likely be addicted to it. Xanax addiction progresses when the person taking the drug becomes psychologically and physically dependent to it.

The person who’s diagnosed with Xanax overdose needs to undertake detoxification processes to regulate the withdrawal symptoms. The familiar approach to abandon this drug addiction is to taper benzodiazepines intake where the patient is given a lower Xanax dosage for every stages of withdrawal.

Can Xanax Affect the Mind?

Apart from the frequently asked question, “Is Xanax still addictive in low dosage?” another aspect you might want to know is whether this drug could actually influence the mental health condition of a person.

Xanax is commonly prescribed to individuals who suffer from anxiety, which makes it one of the most abused drugs. It happens as the number of people struggling with mental health issues is growing by leaps and bounds every year.

Xanax is often abused when a person developed high tolerance to it as a prescribed medicine. As a matter of fact, the brain develops dependency on the drug as the user craves the drug to feel normal or function well. When a person becomes mentally addicted to Xanax, he or she will find it difficult to stop thinking about taking it.

Further, when one decides to quit using Xanax, he or she is not yet absolved as there are withdrawal setbacks that comes with it. Hence, it must not be done abruptly or alone due to the complications. Also, a drug specialist will be required during the withdrawal stage to minimize the chances of retaking the drug again and make sure the withdrawal process is safe.

Unbeknownst to many, the withdrawal risks from quitting Xanax may cause severe consequences to mental health. Once the user’s mental function is already accustomed to Xanax, withdrawing from it may lead to mood swings, depression, insomnia, and worst, paranoia.

Is Xanax Abuse a Sign of Addiction Problem?

Any substance or drug, when used recreationally or abused, is already one step ahead of addiction. That said, when a person who uses Xanax already develops a tolerance to it, he or she will be tempted to increase its dosage to get the ‘high’ effects it creates.

High tolerance to Xanax may emerge even if it’s taken in low dosage because as the mental and physical state of a person becomes dependent on it, the need to take more becomes severe.

If you’re concerned that a friend or family member who’s under Xanax medication treatment is already abusing it and would like to know again if “Xanax is still addictive in low dosage?” Take heed, the daily use of Xanax and other fast-acting benzodiazepines may eventually lead to dependency, abuse, and addiction issues.

What are the Psychological Signs Of Xanax Abuse?

Xanax and other benzodiazepines can create a gamut of psychological effects when inappropriately used. Such drug makes it easy for individuals to forget the tasks they need to do or the details of important conversations they’ve had.

There’s a fine line between Xanax addiction and Xanax abuse. The people who are addicted to Xanax can’t control the urge to continuously use the drug to keep the “high” effects they get out of it. On the other hand, those who are abusing Xanax for specific occasions or at certain times have higher chances of successfully quitting it than those who are already on the addiction stage.

Individuals who are addicted to Xanax have intense need to use it to function normally. In some cases, there are users who become delusional that they can’t live their daily lives to the fullest unless there’s Xanax.

While Xanax addiction is among the most noticeable psychological effects of inappropriate use of the drug, psychological effects  may also manifest may include:



  • Confusion
  • Sudden irritability
  • Becoming easily annoyed 
  • Manic-type moods 
  • Becoming more talkative 
  • Trouble remembering things 
  • Major changes in behavior (excessive tiredness or lack of enthusiasm) 
  • Avoiding tasks that require prolonged attentio

Those who take Xanax more than the prescribed dose may become more apathetic and inactive than before because the drug functions by decelerating the function of the brain in the central nervous system.

When a person who’s usually outgoing and energetic is misusing Xanax, he or she may appear apathetic and lethargic to the surroundings. It can be a sign of developing  an addiction.

What are the Physical Signs Of Xanax Abuse?

The physical signs of Xanax abuse are the most transparent symptoms that someone of abuse. Such symptoms only show when the user takes t more than the prescribed dosage.


The physical signs of Xanax abuse may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Increased salivation 
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Decreased sex drive

It may sound ironic, but it’s not recommended for someone with dependence to Xanax to abruptly quit taking the drug as it can lead to uncomfortable and severe withdrawal symptoms.

Obsession With Xanax

It’s possible for a person with physical dependence to Xanax to get obsessed with it. When someone is already obsessed with Xanax and other benzos, he or she craves for a higher dosage to take. Such preoccupation normally precedes addiction.

Acquiring Xanax and other prescription drugs from a non-medical health professional is quite risky. Illegally sold Xanax may contain additives like fentanyl which is potentially toxic and only increases the risks of overdose and fatality among users.

Prescription and consumption of short-acting benzodiazepines are only intended for a short period when taken in a therapeutic setting. In many instances, the prescribing doctors will gradually minimize the dosage for the person can slowly function without the drug.

Whenever someone becomes dependent on Xanax, he or she is unable to manage the urge to use it again, despite the risks of potential self-harm. Typically, the refills for Xanax prescription is limited because of its addictive effects. In such a case, it’s possible that a person who’s addicted to Xanax will try to get one, even through illegal ways.

Personal Loss Due to Xanax Addiction

Addiction to Xanax is a rampant issue among different communities across the globe. According to a study conducted in 2011, 60,200 individuals underwent treatments for drug addiction and were addicted to benzodiazepines like Xanax. Even though addiction to Xanax manifests quickly, it can be hard to acknowledge due to its low-key signs.

It can create different degrees of personal loss. When a person gets addicted to a certain drug, its addictive substance seizes the brain’s reward system and causes them to crave and consume more of that substance. It happens whenever someone inappropriately uses a drug like Xanax that causes euphoria and relaxation. The brain equates using such a drug with positive results.

When a person becomes physically dependent on Xanax, the brain also becomes attached to it as the addiction continues to develop. Hence, when someone tries to quit, it becomes challenging for him or her to operate without the drug.

Addiction to Xanax generates the following symptoms:

  • inability to follow  through on work and social commitments 
  • trouble maintaining personal relationships 
  • problem with financial matters

The Effects of Xanax Abuse

Using Xanax beyond instructed or for a long period will yield different negative effects in the body. Since it is a depressant for the central nervous system, it slows down the aspects of physical and mental health.

Some of the most common effects of Xanax abuse are:

  • Lack of coordination 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Confusion 
  • Disorientation



This stimulant is also notorious for slowing down the respiratory rates of its abusers. It’s quite dangerous as it impairs breathing speed and may lead to more serious issues when taken with alcohol. These two substances are both depressants whose combined effects could lead to injuries, comatose, and in extreme cases death.

Xanax abuse may also inflict short-term memory impairment for some users. Further, it creates a sedation issue for those who take it in  large doses which lasts for 3 to 4 days.

Causes and Risk Factors of Xanax Addiction

There are no predetermined causes or reasons why substance addiction happens and addiction to Xanax is no different. Such is the case because many variables play distinct roles in the development of substance addiction. Multiple environmental factors, brain characteristics, and genetics are just some of the common variables.


  • Environmental. Those with exposure to extreme life stressors or unstable home environments while growing up have a high likelihood of turning to drugs like Xanax to manage emotional issues. Also, there are individuals who grow up in an environment wherein using and abusing a substance is seen as a means of coping and is an acceptable behavior.
  • Brain Chemistry: Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug that functions by influencing the reward system of the central nervous system that generates feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Some people don’t have enough amount of brain chemicals to feel such emotions on a normal basis. According to one hypothesis, using Xanax fills in the deficiency in natural brain chemicals. It makes the user want to continue using it to keep the feeling of pleasure and relaxation it gives which, may eventually lead to an addiction problem.
  • Genetic. The theory that addiction problems can run in the family through genetically passed down characteristics is a well-supported one. Those who have close relatives with a history of substance abuse and addiction have a higher probability of developing substance addiction problems compared to those who don’t. Genetics might not guarantee the progression of addiction issues, but there’s still a strong connection between the two.
  • Psychological. It’s another familiar theory concluding that people with substance abuse and addiction problems may have psychiatric illnesses that are not yet diagnosed. A person with undiagnosed mental health disorders may not comprehend the symptoms he or she experiences and is clueless as to how to deal with them. The person will take Xanax to control symptoms as an attempt to self-medicate. In the later stage, he or she starts to depend on the drug to normally function on a regular basis.

What Does Xanax Look Like?

Xanax comes in white, orange or blue oval tablets or as a white rectangle, or “bar.” The size and shape depend on dosage and manufacture, but each tablet should have the word Xanax imprinted on one side.

Xanax pills come in doses of 0.25 mg to 2 mg. Typically, doctors will start with the lowest dose and work up from there to achieve the desired relief to the patient. A general rule of thumb is not to exceed 4 mg in a 24-hour period.

What Are Some other Names for Xanax?

While it is a beneficial prescription drug, Xanax is most popular among men 18-25 years old for recreational use according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

With the recreational use of a prescription drug often comes famous street names, in attempts to disguise the misuse of a prescription drug. Common names for Xanax are listed below.

  • Xannies
  • Bars
  • Z-Bars
  • Zanbars
  • Handlebars
  • Planks
  • Bricks
  • Benzos
  • Blue footballs
  • Upjohn
  • School Bus
  • Bicycle parts
  • Yellow boys
  • White boys
  • White girls



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Is Xanax Addictive?

The nature of Xanax has addictive properties; it’s meant to alter the neurochemistry of someone who suffers from anxiety or panic attacks.

Unfortunately, people with anxiety have a higher chance of addiction because of their dependency on prescription drugs to ease their anxiety. So even using the medication as prescribed can lead to addiction.

When using Xanax, the brain releases an extra amount of dopamine; this surge of dopamine gives a sense of euphoria, which is why the drug is eagerly sought after and misused.

As with all drugs or addictive substances, the time necessary to develop a dependency or an addiction will vary from one user to the next. A user has become addicted when they’ve grown physically and psychologically dependant on the drug to basic tasks.

Addiction won’t happen immediately and if maintaining a low dose it is possible it may not happen. But it starts with a tolerance and the need to increase dosage to get the same effects.

When a user who has a dependency or addiction to Xanax tries to cut themselves off the drug, they will go through withdrawals and could have worse anxiety than when they first started using it.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawing from Xanax is equally as dangerous as abusing it or getting addicted to it. Hence, it should only be done under the strict guidance of a medical professional. The symptoms of withdrawing from Xanax may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Blurred vision
  • Intense sweating
  • Nervous feelings
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Tingling sensation in hands and feet 
  • Death resulting from suicide or other health complications

Xanax and Other Drugs

Xanax may interconnect with other medications and drugs. As such, it shouldn’t be taken simultaneously with another medication such as birth control, unless the doctor instructs otherwise. Also, Xanax shouldn’t be taken with itraconazole or ketoconazole. Using it with alcohol is also dangerous.

This drug can also interact with dietary or herbal supplements such as melatonin, kava kava, valerian, St. John’s wort, and DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone. Know that taking Xanax with illicit drugs, non-prescription drugs, nicotine, dietary supplements, and herbs are all dangerous.

It’s also not recommended for pregnant and lactating women. Hence, consulting a doctor when pregnancy occurs while under Xanax medication should be done immediately. Don’t try to self-medicate and stop on your own.

A Xanax overdose is also another risk for people who use it without prescription, taking above, or even below the prescribed dosage can surge the risk of overdose, as well as those who use other drugs, medications, and/or alcohol.

Xanax Addiction Statistics

The number of prescriptions written for Xanax has steadily increased over the past decade.

The number of alprazolam prescriptions written for adult patients rose by 67 percent between 1996 and 2013. During that same period, the number of pills that were dispensed more than tripled, according to a 2016 study.

With an influx of legitimate prescriptions, there is a trickle-down effect, resulting in a robust supply of Xanax on the streets. Many come from “doctor shoppers” or forged prescriptions.

From 2010 to 2015, the number of emergency room visits as a result of an alprazolam-related episode, doubled. One startling fact was that reports showed about half of those ER visits did not even involve another drug.

This demonstrates that there is a danger for those using alprazolam, without any dangerous drug combinations.

Xanax Addiction Treatment Options

It’s important to realize the signs of Xanax addiction. Some of the common signs someone has an addiction to Xanax include:

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Agitation
  • Mania
  • Dry mouth
  • Heart palpitations

With treatment and therapy, patients can overcome their addiction and live a life free of drug dependence. Working on each case to identify possible co-occurring disorders or underlying causes, the team at Southern California Addiction Center will tailor each patient’s treatment plan to best suit the patient.

There are many approaches and specialized treatment programs available at the Southern California Addiction Center to help each patient on the road to recovery.

Are You or a Loved One in Need of Help?

If you or someone you know are suffering, and in need of help, we are here for you. CONTACT US TODAY and take the first steps toward the process of recovery. We believe that all of our guests deserve a second chance, and our mission is to make sure that everyone has that opportunity should they need it.

CALL 1-714-942-4942
EMAIL [email protected]

Are You or a Loved One in Need of Help?

If you or someone you know are suffering, and in need of help, we are here for you. CONTACT US TODAY and take the first steps toward the process of recovery. We believe that all of our guests deserve a second chance, and our mission is to make sure that everyone has that opportunity should they need it.

CALL 1-714-942-4942
[email protected]

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