Xanax Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & When To Get Help

Xanax is the brand name for a prescription medication containing alprazolam, a benzodiazepine that is a central nervous system depressant.

Understanding Xanax Addiction

Learn about Xanax addiction

This medication is often prescribed to those who are suffering from symptoms linked to anxiety disorders. Xanax comes in pill form, is consumed orally, and can trigger the onset of sedative and relaxing feelings. Because of these pleasurable effects, and also because Xanax can be easy to access, the medication is also popular in those who are looking to self-medicate or who are looking to obtain a recreational high.

The pleasant effects that Xanax produces and its widespread legal use should not be viewed as meaning that this drug can be consumed without risk. Those who abuse Xanax can develop tolerance, which means that they will need to take increasingly larger amounts of the medication to obtain the desired effects. Xanax abuse can also cause chemical dependence.

In order to avoid the dangerous effects if Xanax abuse and addiction, one must consider seeking treatment. By receiving care, an individual can reclaim his or her life from this form of substance abuse.


Xanax addiction statistics

Xanax is one of the 10 most commonly prescribed medications within America. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that the prevalence of prescription antianxiety medication abuse in young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 is about 0.5%. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that over two million Americans abuse Xanax and/or other prescription tranquilizers yearly. Between 2005 and 2011, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported over 900,000 emergency room visits that included Xanax or another prescription medications containing benzodiazepines.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Xanax addiction

Below are some of the many factors that can predispose an individual to be at a greater risk for Xanax abuse and dependence:

Genetic: Substance use disorders have a powerful genetic component. Those whose parents or siblings have battled a substance use disorder are at an increased risk for suffering a similar experience. Also, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has identified heritable personality traits such as novelty-seeking and impulsiveness as genetic factors that might increase one’s risk for developing addiction.

Environmental: The ease of access to Xanax, including having the medication prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose, is an environmental factor that can increase one’s risk of abusing or becoming addicted to this drug. Hanging out with individuals who abuse Xanax is also an environmental risk for abusing this substance.

Risk Factors:

  • Having an impulsive personality
  • Being female (women are more likely than men to be prescribed Xanax)
  • Having a novelty seeking personality
  • Prior substance abuse
  • Age (most cases of Xanax abuse being in individuals under the age of 30)
  • Family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Co-occurring mental health disorder(s)
  • Easy access to Xanax

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction

The signs and symptoms of Xanax abuse and addiction can include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Using Xanax when it is clearly unsafe to do so, such as in combination with alcohol or other drugs or prior to operating a motor vehicle
  • Secrecy or deception about one’s activities or whereabouts
  • Trying but failing to stop or reduce one’s use of Xanax
  • Taking Xanax more frequently or in larger doses than intended
  • Visiting multiple doctors in search of Xanax prescription(s)
  • Attempting to borrow or steal someone else’s Xanax
  • Continuing to abuse Xanax even after experiencing negative repercussions as a result of prior Xanax abuse

Physical symptoms:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Tolerance to Xanax
  • Poor coordination
  • Weakened muscles
  • Vision problems
  • Slurred speech

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Powerful cravings for Xanax
  • Inability to focus or concentrate

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Uncharacteristic aggressiveness
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Loss of interest in significant activities


Effects of Xanax addiction

The untreated abuse of Xanax can cause a number of negative outcomes, such as:

  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
  • Development of additional substance use concerns
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Homelessness
  • Family discord
  • Strained or ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Diminished performance at work or in school
  • Academic failure
  • Job loss
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Organ damage
  • Disinhibition
  • Amnesia
  • Mania
  • Jaundice

Fortunately, with professional treatment for Xanax addiction, there is hope for those who are suffering.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Xanax addiction and co-occurring disorders

Those who abuse or who become addicted to Xanax might be at a greater risk for suffering from the following co-occurring mental health conditions:

  • Social phobia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Other substance use disorders

Withdrawal and Overdose

Xanax withdrawal and overdose

Effects of Xanax withdrawal: When an individual becomes dependent on Xanax, stopping or decreasing the use of the drug can trigger the onset of numerous upsetting symptoms, including the following:

  • Tremors and twitching
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizure
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Powerful drug cravings
  • Nausea

Effects of Xanax overdose: Anyone who shows the following symptoms after consuming Xanax might have overdosed, and should be taken to obtain immediate medical attention:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Unconsciousness
  • Diminished motor skills
  • Lack of coordination
  • Extreme confusion
  • Slowed or irregular breathing
  • Faint pulse
  • Muscle weakness
  • Problems with vision
  • Impaired ability to speak clearly
What our clients are saying

When I got caught stealing Xanax from my friend with anxiety, that was when I realized I hit rock bottom. Through the treatment programs at Huntington Creek, they found the root cause of my addiction and helped cure me of this disease.

– Former Patient
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