Understanding Xanax Addiction: Signs and Symptoms

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Xanax is a brand name medication that is generically known as alprazolam. It belongs to a group of medications called benzodiazepines. Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication, which is commonly used to treat panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Xanax is a central nervous system depressant that works by acting on certain neurotransmitters in one’s brain, specifically the GABA-A (gamma-aminobutyric acid-A). When Xanax binds to this receptor it elicits a calming effect as it slows down excessive brain activity and reduces feelings of panic and/ or stress. Xanax is fast acting, and typically begins working within one to two hours. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the half-life of alprazolam (the length of time the substance will remain in one’s system until it has been completely metabolized) “has been found to be about 11.2 hours (range: 6.3-26.9 hours) in healthy adults.” Xanax can be a highly effective medication when used properly and under the direct supervision of a medical professional. However, as is true with any medication, there are risk factors and potential side effects associated with taking Xanax. When abused, Xanax is known to be a drug with high addiction potential. 

Signs and Symptoms

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g. abusing drugs) without regard for consequence. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her drug cravings above all else. There are a variety of signs and symptoms that can manifest when an individual is addicted to Xanax. Common examples can include any combination of the following, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Delirium
  • Nausea and/ or vomiting

Every individual is different and will exhibit a unique set of signs and symptoms when it comes to Xanax abuse. Often individuals that abuse Xanax will develop a tolerance to the substance, meaning they will require more of the drug (e.g. higher dosage, more frequent use, etc.) to achieve the same desired effects that was once accomplished using less of the substance. Prolonged Xanax abuse can exponentially increase an individual’s risk of overdose. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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