Massachusetts Center for Addiction

Xanax Abuse and Addiction


Xanax, also known by its generic name Alprazolam, is a medication prescribed to treat anxiety disorders such as panic disorder. As part of the benzodiazepine class, or “benzos,” Xanax can be effective when used correctly. However, it carries a high potential for addiction, especially with misuse or incorrect use.

In recent years, the abuse of Xanax has become a growing concern, highlighting the importance of understanding its effects on the brain and body. Misusing this drug can lead to serious health consequences and poses significant risks, underscoring the need for awareness and caution in its use.

How Common is Xanax Abuse?

Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States. Over 15 million prescriptions were dispensed in 2021, demonstrating its widespread use.

A 2018 study revealed that 5.3 million people had misused Xanax within the previous year. The most common form of misuse was taking benzodiazepines without a prescription, usually obtained from a friend or relative.

Since 1999, the number of people dying from overdoses related to benzodiazepines, like Xanax, has gone up a lot—from 1,135 deaths to 12,499 deaths between 2019 and 2021. This big increase shows how serious the problem of misusing or abusing drugs like Xanax can be.

Xanax pill bottles spilled out on a flat white surface.

Xanax Abuse and Addiction

Xanax addiction arises when misuse of the medication alters brain chemistry, leading to compulsive use despite negative consequences. This misuse can start in various ways, including:

  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Using Xanax more frequently than recommended
  • Obtaining it illegally
  • Using someone else’s prescription

Over time, the body and brain may become dependent on Xanax. This leads to withdrawal symptoms if usage is reduced or stopped. This dependency, while not synonymous with addiction, often accompanies it. The strong urge to avoid withdrawal can drive continued use.

Tolerance and Dependency

Tolerance to Xanax can develop rapidly, pushing individuals to consume increasingly larger amounts to achieve the same effects. As addiction deepens, daily responsibilities and interests fall by the wayside. The person’s focus shifts entirely to obtaining and using Xanax.

Behavioral signs of addiction include continued use despite personal problems, an inability to stop using, a loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities, and engaging in risky behaviors.

The Dangers of Withdrawal

Quitting Xanax abruptly can be dangerous, leading to severe withdrawal symptoms, including potentially deadly convulsions.

Symptoms of withdrawal from Xanax can start just a few hours after the last dose and might consist of:

  • Seizures
  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Sweating heavily
  • Strong urges to use Xanax again
  • Feeling anxious
  • A faster than normal heartbeat
  • Muscle aches
  • Shaking or trembling

The recommended approach to overcoming Xanax dependency involves a medically supervised tapering of the dose, possibly switching to a long-acting benzodiazepine to ease withdrawal symptoms. This careful, gradual reduction helps manage the discomfort of withdrawal, making recovery a safer process.

Treating Xanax Addiction at Massachusetts Center of Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with Xanax addiction, know that help is available. At the Massachusetts Center of Addiction, we understand the challenges associated with Xanax abuse. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing personalized treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

Our center offers comprehensive treatment programs that address the physical and mental health complications of Xanax abuse. We believe in a holistic approach that combines evidence-based therapies, counseling, and support groups to help you regain control of your life.

Take the first step towards recovery today by contacting our compassionate team at the Massachusetts Center of Addiction. We are here to listen, understand, and guide you through this challenging time. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone – there is hope for a brighter future.

Call us today at 844-486-0671 for a free and completely confidential assessment.