Xanax Addiction Guide


Alprazolam is the generic name of Xanax. Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. It works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA).

Xanax (Alprazolam) comes in a pill form and is taken orally. A common dosage for Xanax is around .5 milligrams (mg). Suddenly stopping the drug could result in severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures. 

Xanax has a high potential for abuse. Individuals might abuse Xanax for an inebriated state much like opioids or getting drunk. Despite being a common drug for abuse, abusing Xanax can be extremely dangerous, especially when used with other medications, drugs, or alcohol. 

Even when used as prescribed, the body can develop a dependence to Xanax. The propensity for both abuse and dependency can make Xanax highly susceptible to addiction.

When a person decides to quit using Xanax (as prescribed or illicitly) they should always talk to their doctor beforehand. Detoxing from Alprazolam (Xanax) is extremely dangerous and uncomfortable. The withdrawals alone associated with Xanax can be so severe (if not fatal) that it can be impossible to quit. 

Learn about Xanax withdrawal, symptoms, and detox

Understanding how Xanax works – the way it affects our mental and physical health – can help you understand it’s affect within our society, yourself, or a loved one. 

If you are currently struggling with using Xanax (whether due to dependence or addiction), talk to one of our specialists. We can help you find a program to help you detox safely and comfortably; as well as medications and therapy support ongoing abstinence. 


Abusing Xanax (using it outside of medical direction) is extremely dangerous. However, those that take Xanax as prescribed can still become addicted. Common ways to abuse Xanax include:

  • Taking Xanax with other drugs or alcohol
  • Using via blotter paper
  • Taking multiple pills

Xanax is often abused to obtain a sense of calm and relaxation. However, some may abuse the drug by taking higher doses and combining it with other drugs and/or alcohol to achieve a desired high. Common signs of Xanax abuse include:


If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Symptoms of overdose may include: severe drowsiness slowed/reduced reflexes, slowed breathing, loss of consciousness.

Damage Caused by Xanax: Permanent or Reversible?

Permanent From Xanax:

  • Cardio collapse
  • Damage as a result of seizures or coma
  • Acute kidney damage
  • Pulmonary collapse

Reversible damage:

  • Rhinorrhea, nasal congestion
  • Yellowing of eyes (elevated bilirubin)
  • Yellowing, severe rashes and swelling
  • Ear pain
  • Ulcers, sores and swelling


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Xanax also has a high propensity for dependence. Dependence on Xanax can start very quickly; often within a few days of continuous use. Dependence starts in the mind when the individual craves the drug to feel mentally normal. After this initial stage, the person using Xanax will develop a psychological dependence shown by the physical symptoms when he or she stops using. 

When someone is physically dependent on Xanax, they should seek medical assistance when they decide to abstain from the Xanax as withdrawals can be fatal. Detoxing is the process of eliminating substances from a person’s body as safely as possible. 

“Always seek medical attention before quitting Xanax as withdrawals can be fatal”

The detox process for Xanax can vary depending on how often a person uses and their daily dosage of use. If a person has been using Xanax for over a year, doctor’s will utilize a tapering method to slowly come off of the drug slowly and safely – minimizing withdrawals. 

Learn more about Xanax withdrawals and detox here.


Most benzodiazepines like Xanax are highly addictive. Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine medication. That means it brings about a big change in the brain in a short period of time. As a result, it is considered one of the most addictive benzodiazepine medications on the market today. Risks are higher in people who take the doses of 4 mg/day for longer than 12 weeks, but anyone who abuses the drug could be at risk for addiction.

Xanax addiction can cause a variety of complications: physical, mental, and behavioral. Outside of increased criminal behavior and financial strain, an addiction to Xanax can cause people to have deficiencies in health, family life, and work.

How Does Xanax Addiction Affect You?

How to Recognize Addiction in a Loved One

Recognizing symptoms of Xanax addiction in a loved one is the first step in understanding how to help them. Everyone’s unique situation means that they will experience symptoms on their terms. However, symptoms between Xanax users are quite similar.

The following are common signs of addiction:

  • Mood changes: Your loved one may seem more irritable and experience feelings of depression or anxiety.
  • Behavioral changes: Your loved one may be acting secretive or even show signs of aggressive behavior. 
  • Changes in appearance: Your loved one may have recently lost or gained a significant amount of weight.
  • Health issues: Is your loved one sleeping a lot, appearing sluggish, or experiencing nausea, vomiting, or headaches? They may be struggling with a Xanax addiction. 
  • Social changes: They may withdraw themselves from their usual social activities and problems maintaining healthy relationships. Also, the friends they have may change. They may be developing strange relationships with people or having suspicious phone calls.

Am I Addicted To Xanax?

If you, or a loved one, answer yes to the following questions, immediate professional care in the form of medical detox is warranted:

  • Do you feel like you need to take more Xanax than you used to just to achieve the same high you always have?
  • Are family members and friends frequently remarking on your absence at social functions you used to attend?
  • Do you experience symptoms of withdrawal like muscle twitches and insomnia if you stop using or slow down on use?
  • Have you set goals to cut back on use and failed to reach them?
  • Are you constantly worrying about when you get to use again and making sure you have a reliable supplier?
  • Are you aware of the negative impact your Xanax abuse is having on your life, but you keep using anyway?

Individuals can avoid the long-term side effects of abuse through proper treatment. Medical detox is the safest way to wean off Xanax and move back into a healthy and fully functioning life. If people started taking Xanax as part of a treatment plan for anxiety or other conditions such as panic disorder, they will require treatment that addresses the original condition. This may come in the form of another medication or more natural alternatives, like yoga and meditation. ABC News reported on one study in which yoga instructors had their brains scanned after one hour of yoga practice, and the results showed a 27 percent increase in GABA levels.

Detoxing from Xanax should never be attempted alone. With the right care during withdrawal and continuing treatment, users can get back on their feet and manage substance abuse and mental health issues with appropriate treatment options that are suited to their long-term needs.


Xanax Detox – Xanax Dependence Treatment

If you or a loved one has been using Xanax for over a couple of weeks, you might require a detox if you wish to cease use. Without proper medical supervision, individuals are prone to serious withdrawal symptoms, including death, if not managed appropriately. 

Medical detox for Xanax (alprazolam) requires about 5-7 days and includes medication and medical oversight to minimize withdrawals and ensure safety.

For people with strictly a dependence on Xanax, the detox process should suffice; along with proper medications to help with cravings. However, if someone finds themselves abusing Xanax later on, they should consider therapy and treatment as this can be a start to addiction.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Doctors should treat Xanax addiction like any other drug addiction; this is most commonly done with a Xanax rehab program. Patients will need to cease consumption and then work through withdrawal, followed by a comprehensive drug addiction treatment program. There are many therapeutic approaches to recovery that can be effective. Treatment will often begin with an evaluation: both physical and psychological. This can help determine the aspects that need assistance. Medications also help with detox, mental health, cravings, and a variety of other factors to help a person feel back to normal without the reliance on Xanax. Finally comes therapy. 

Because addiction to Xanax is much more than a chemical imbalance, therapy is an essential aspect of treatment. When a person abuses Xanax and develops an addiction, they are doing so for a variety of reasons – many of which boil down to coping. Understanding the underlying issues associated with Xanax addiction like mental health, trauma, and stress is the start of successful treatment.

Evidence-based recovery rehab will start with talk therapy. Therapy will change behaviors, address any underlying history of trauma, and work through mental health conditions that could be playing a role. Involving the family can also be helpful, as can group therapy. Alternative or holistic therapies ranging from fitness to acupuncture can play a role in boosting overall wellness and strength against relapse as well.


person holding pill bottle and pill

Medication-Assisted Treatment is a vital part of Benzodiazepine treatment. Medications primarily help treat withdrawals and cravings during the first few weeks of abstinence. If a person has been prescribed Xanax; your addiction doctor will be able to prescribe you an alternative (non-addictive) medication. 

Inpatient Rehab for Xanax Addiction

When treating Xanax addiction, inpatient treatment is often the most beneficial. Inpatient rehab provides the highest level of care, support, and structure. Many treatment centers also offer detox services, allowing patients to go through withdrawal symptoms safely. 

Inpatient treatment can last from 28 days to several months. The length of the program will depend on the severity of the addiction. It will also be dependent upon if there is a co-occurring disorder or not.

Treating Xanax addiction often starts with a detox. After detox, the patient will take part in an organized treatment plan. This plan tends to include:

  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • 12-step programs
  • Holistic therapy 

Group of people having breakfast at a transitional housing facility

Outpatient Treatment with Housing

Too often, individuals invest their time in treatment only to relapse when they leave. This is often due to a sudden transition from a structured environment to a normal lifestyle often filled with temptations and stressors.

This is where outpatient therapy and sober-living come into play. Much like diabetes and asthma, substance use disorders are a chronic disease that requires continual maintenance. Outpatient therapy and sober living allow individuals to slowly transition into everyday life; giving people the tools needed for long-term success. 


Xanax can help people. However, this is also a drug that can be easily abused, and individuals can form a dependent relatively fast. Since Xanax is one of the most prescribed medications for anxiety disorder, with over 50 million prescriptions written every year, it also means there is a high chance for individuals to develop substance use disorders to the drug. 

Xanax can cause a variety of health effects (short-term and long-term) as well as the possibility for overdose if abused; especially when used with other drugs or alcohol.

Stopping the use of Xanax can be extremely dangerous. For this reason, it is crucial to receive medical attention if you wish to stop using Alprazolam (Xanax). 

Xanax addiction is serious and can be one of the more difficult drugs to abstain from due to the severe psychological and physical withdrawals it creates. Years of abuse can cause severe chemical imbalances in the brain making recovery last months; if not years. 

To fully treat Xanax use disorders means dealing with underlying disorders like mental health and trauma first. Using a variety of evidence-based therapies helps treat the multitude of variables involved in Xanax addiction. By understanding the biological and environmental factors that are influenced by addiction, we can begin to fully treat Xanax addiction and give people back their happy and healthy lives. 

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