Massachusetts Center for Addiction

Xanax Abuse: Signs, Effects & Treatment for Xanax Addiction


Did you know that Xanax, a commonly prescribed medication for anxiety disorders, is increasingly being abused, becoming a growing concern? Surprisingly, benzodiazepine abuse, including Xanax (alprazolam), has increased in recent years.

This drug misuse can have serious health consequences and pose a significant risk to individuals who engage in this behavior. It’s important to understand the potential dangers associated with Xanax abuse and the importance of responsible use.

How Common is Xanax Abuse?

Xanax, also known by its generic name Alprazolam, is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States, and also holds the distinction of being the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medication in the country. Over 48 million prescriptions were dispensed in 2013, demonstrating its widespread use.

Teenagers and Xanax Abuse

Teen Xanax abuse is a growing concern. Although national data hasn’t shown a surge, addiction specialists anticipate a rise in Xanax use among teenagers due to various factors, including its prescription for anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizure reduction. Peer influence and curiosity also significantly drive teenagers to experiment with drugs like Xanax.

Overdose Statistics

Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines, which include Xanax, have shown a steady increase from 1,135 in 1999 to 12,499 between 2019 and 2021. This alarming trend underscores the severe consequences of the misuse and abuse of benzodiazepines like Xanax.

Xanax pill bottles spilled out on a flat white surface.

Spotting the Signs of Xanax Abuse

Spotting the signs of Xanax abuse early can pave the way to seeking help and initiating recovery. It’s about noticing changes that don’t feel right, both in oneself or in loved ones, and taking those signs seriously.

Being informed about what to look for can make a significant difference in addressing the issue before it escalates. Below, we explore some common signs of Xanax misuse that may arise, helping you stay informed and ready to take positive action if needed.

Feeling Overly Sleepy or Sedated

It might be a sign of concern if you see someone who’s often sleepy, having difficulty staying awake, or constantly nodding off. Keep an eye out for folks who seem groggy or find it tough to concentrate on what they’re doing.

Changes in Behavior

Xanax abuse can sometimes change a person’s behavior. Look out for sudden mood swings like irritability, aggression, or feeling down more than usual. If someone starts pulling away from friends or family, acting secretive, or losing interest in stuff they used to love, Xanax could be the culprit.

Talking or Moving Differently

Physical signs can also hint at Xanax abuse. For example, if someone starts slurring their words or finds it hard to speak clearly, that’s a red flag. Also, pay attention if they stumble while walking or seem unsteady — these could be signs of Xanax misuse.

Needing More Xanax to Feel Relaxed

People abusing Xanax might build a tolerance, meaning they’ll need more of the drug to feel its effects. If someone needs higher doses to feel relaxed or fight off anxiety, it could be a sign of a growing problem. And if they face withdrawal symptoms like shakiness, anxiety, or insomnia when not taking Xanax, it’s a clear indication of ongoing abuse.

Mental and Physical Health Complications

Navigating through the storm of Xanax abuse isn’t just a mental challenge. It’s a physical battle too. While soothing in the short term, the drug can unleash a host of mental and physical health complications over time.

From memory lapses to an ironic increase in anxiety, the effects of Xanax abuse are far-reaching. Let’s explore the specific complications that may emerge, shedding light on the importance of addressing the issue head-on.

Memory Problems and Cognitive Impairment

Long-term use of Xanax can lead to memory glitches and difficulty focusing. Individuals might find it difficult to remember things or concentrate on tasks, impacting their daily routine, school performance, or work productivity.

Increased Risk of Overdose and Respiratory Depression

Mixing Xanax with alcohol is a risky mix that can lead to serious problems. This combination increases the chances of overdose and respiratory depression, where breathing becomes dangerously slow. It’s a no-go to mix alcohol with Xanax.

Withdrawal Symptoms from Physical Dependence

Regular use of Xanax can create physical dependence, where the body needs the drug to feel normal. Stopping Xanax suddenly can bring on withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe complications like seizures. It’s vital to have medical guidance when looking to stop Xanax use.

Worsening of Chronic Anxiety

Though Xanax is often a go-to for managing anxiety, long-term use can ironically ramp up anxiety levels. This happens especially when someone stops using Xanax after a long period, leading to a spike in anxiety. Working closely with healthcare professionals to manage anxiety disorders and exploring alternative treatment options is a wise move.

Treatment Options for Xanax Addiction

The first step is detox under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms when dealing with Xanax addiction. This process helps individuals gradually reduce their dependence on the drug while ensuring their safety and well-being.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

One effective treatment option for addressing underlying issues related to Xanax addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Through CBT, individuals can explore and understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to their addiction. By identifying triggers and developing coping strategies, CBT empowers individuals to make positive changes in their lives.

Medications like Benzodiazepine Antagonists

To aid in reducing cravings for Xanax, medications such as benzodiazepine antagonists may be prescribed. These medications work by blocking the effects of Xanax in the brain, helping to diminish the desire to use the drug. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional who can determine if medication is an appropriate option based on individual circumstances.

Support Groups

Support groups play a vital role in the recovery journey from Xanax addiction. Connecting with others who have experienced similar struggles provides valuable peer support and understanding. Sharing experiences, offering encouragement, and receiving guidance from those who have successfully overcome addiction can be immensely helpful in maintaining sobriety.

Recovery from Xanax Addiction

Recovery from Xanax addiction is a challenging journey that requires commitment, patience, and sometimes professional help. It’s important to remember that everyone’s recovery process is unique, but some common steps and strategies can be helpful along the way.

Commitment, Patience, and Professional Help

The first step in recovering from Xanax addiction is acknowledging the problem and committing to change. This involves recognizing the negative impact that Xanax abuse has had on your life and being willing to take action to overcome it. Being patient with yourself during this process is essential since recovery takes time.

Seeking professional help can greatly enhance your chances of successful recovery. A healthcare provider, like the Massachusetts Center for Addiction, can provide guidance, support, and potentially prescribe medications to manage benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. They can also assist in developing an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Can I overcome my Xanax addiction without professional help?

Yes, it is possible to overcome Xanax addiction without professional help; however, seeking professional treatment dramatically increases your chances of success. Professional treatment provides the tools, support system, and expertise for a safe and effective recovery.

How long does treatment for Xanax addiction typically last?

The duration of treatment for Xanax addiction varies depending on individual circumstances. It can range from several weeks to several months or longer. The length of treatment will be determined by factors such as the severity of addiction, individual progress, and personal goals.

Ongoing Support through Counseling or Therapy

Maintaining sobriety after recovering from a Xanax addiction requires ongoing support. Counseling or therapy can provide a safe space to address underlying issues that may have contributed to addiction, learn new coping skills, and receive guidance on navigating life in recovery. Regular sessions with a therapist or counselor can help prevent relapse and promote overall well-being.

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 and complexities 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.