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What You Need to Know About Xanax Addiction

by Amelia Grant 13 days ago in health
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Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication that is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepine addiction is a growing problem in the United States, accounting for roughly 30% of opiate overdose deaths.

What You Need to Know About Xanax Addiction

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication that is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepine addiction is a growing problem in the United States, accounting for roughly 30% of opiate overdose deaths.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, addiction is now classified as a substance use disorder (DSM-5). Benzodiazepine use can be obvious if someone appears intoxicated or exhibits drug-seeking behavior, but it can also be well hidden.

A combination of strategies, including detoxification and various psychotherapeutic and psychosocial approaches, may be used in treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

Sedatives, hypnotics, and minor tranquilizers are all terms used to describe benzodiazepines (also known as "benzos"). They work in the brain by increasing the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This decreases the excitability of neurons (nerve cells), resulting in less anxiety.

One of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines, Xanax, is generally thought to be safe for short-term use, but it can cause sleepiness, headaches, lethargy, dry mouth, and memory problems.

Long-term Xanax use in older adults can also cause cognitive issues that resemble dementia. However, once the drug is stopped, the impairment may go away.

While Xanax is sometimes prescribed for more than a few weeks to treat specific anxiety disorders, long-term use can result in a resurgence of anxiety symptoms when the drug is eventually discontinued. Prolonged use also raises the possibility of withdrawal syndrome.

Furthermore, some Xanax users may develop drug tolerance. To maintain a therapeutic effect, you may need to use higher doses of Xanax if you develop tolerance to it. This can result in overdosing, intoxication, and, in some cases, drug-seeking behavior.


Using Xanax and other sedatives and hypnotics has been linked to an increased risk of death. The exact cause is unknown, but it could be related to an increase in depression, infections, respiratory issues, and accidents. Furthermore, there is some evidence that Xanax may increase the risk of suicide.

Another issue to be concerned about with Xanax addiction is the risk of overdose, which can lead to acute benzodiazepine toxicity. Overdose can occur with Xanax alone, but the vast majority of fatalities occur when Xanax is combined with other drugs such as opioids, including heroin.

Because of these risks, the FDA issued a black box warning in 2016 against combining benzodiazepines and opioids.


Addiction to Xanax, like addiction to opioids or stimulants, can begin with pleasurable effects or a sense of being "high" or euphoric. Addiction can develop as a result of "self-medication" for anxiety, and it can be exacerbated by efforts to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which become more severe the longer you use the drug.

Xanax addiction can develop even at low doses, in part because the drug has a relatively short half-life of 11 hours, which means its effects wear off quickly.

Furthermore, as tolerance to the drug develops, the duration of its therapeutic effects shortens, while the feeling of "comedown" leading to withdrawal occurs faster.

Even if a person attempts to stop taking Xanax, the fear of withdrawal and rebound can be so intense that the negative consequences of stopping appear to outweigh the benefits. Xanax addiction is a subtype of substance use disorder known as sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder.


A substance use disorder is a group of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms that cause an individual to continue using the substance despite significant adverse health or emotional effects or problems at work, school, or home.

Xanax, like many other drugs, can be detected using laboratory tests. This drug can be detected in urine, saliva, and hair follicles, though the accuracy of these tests varies.

While the drug can be detected in the body, no blood or lab tests are available to diagnose Xanax addiction. A person is diagnosed with Xanax addiction if they meet certain diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5.

The disorder is classified as "mild" if two to three criteria are met, "moderate" if four to five criteria are met, and "severe" if six or more criteria are met. These classifications may aid in determining the best course of treatment.

Your healthcare provider will not be able to answer these questions unless you are willing to participate in your diagnostic process, which means you must be interested in being diagnosed and treated. Family and friends can sometimes help by encouraging you to seek help and pointing out these issues to you.


Abstinence is frequently a goal in the treatment of Xanax addiction. This entails discontinuing the medication. Detoxification (also known as "detox") and behavioral therapies may be used to achieve abstinence.

In some cases, an alternative approach—harm-reduction strategies—might be considered, especially for people who find abstinence difficult.

Addiction treatment can sometimes be provided on an outpatient basis, but it is often necessary to stay in a treatment center for a period of time. Since Xanax addiction is frequently associated with substance abuse, rehabilitation for opioid or alcohol addiction may also be required.


About the author

Amelia Grant

I am journalist, and blogger.

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