Xanax Addiction—Alprazolam Abuse And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 20, 2020

Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug that is often prescribed to individuals as a way to manage their anxiety. While Xanax can be beneficial to many people, it is highly addictive and poses a wide range of harmful effects.

Xanax Addiction And Treatment Options

Many people today have been diagnosed with anxiety. One of the most effective and common methods of treating anxiety is the medication, Xanax.

Unfortunately, Xanax is an addictive substance. Many people who start to take it can’t seem to function properly without taking more and more. It starts to jeopardize their professional and personal relationships.

If you or someone you love might have a problem with Xanax, here is what you need to know about Xanax, Xanax addiction, and Xanax treatment.

What Is Xanax Or Alprazolam?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine. Its job is to slow down the central nervous system by causing the body to create more of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

This creates a sedative effect, causing the user to feel relaxed. This is perfect for people who are constantly tense and wound up due to anxiety. Xanax generally stays in the system between six and 12 hours.

There are medical benefits to Xanax, but it is a substance with a high possibility of abuse. Part of the reason for this is because the person taking it may begin taking more and more to feel the same effects, due to tolerance.

Taking Xanax may relax the person taking it, but it can have some debilitating results. The relaxation effects can impact a person’s motor skills and communication skills, causing walking and talking to become difficult.

It’s also a risk for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while on this medication. These symptoms are exacerbated, or increased, when mixed with alcohol or other drugs.

Signs Of Xanax Addiction

Many people are prescribed Xanax. Since it’s not an illegal drug, it can be difficult to tell when someone has a problem. However, there are some clear signs of Xanax abuse.

Signs of Xanax abuse can include:

  • taking more than prescribed
  • taking Xanax despite legal or personal consequences
  • needing more and more Xanax to have the same effects
  • obsession with taking Xanax
  • driving while impaired
  • taking Xanax with alcohol or other drugs

People abusing Xanax may also constantly be tired, slur their words, and seem uninterested in things that used to bring them joy.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms And Duration

Xanax withdrawal can be more difficult than it sounds. When your body is used to consuming a certain substance every day, it can be a shock to the system when that substance suddenly isn’t in the system anymore.

This will put the individual through withdrawal. While Xanax withdrawal is rarely deadly, it is certainly extremely uncomfortable, painful, and difficult to get through.

The biggest symptom of Xanax withdrawal is the cravings. When someone stops the use of Xanax, their body will still want the substance. This can cause people to fall back into Xanax abuse.

Other symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:

  • high anxiety
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • muscle pain

Withdrawal can start as soon as six to 12 hours after use. It will be the worst two to four days following quitting Xanax.

After day four, the symptoms will still be there, but will gradually dissipate. While it may be difficult, if someone can get through withdrawal, they are past one of the greatest hurdles of physical recovery.

Xanax And Polysubstance Abuse/Addiction

Polysubstance abuse is the act of combining more than one drug (or alcohol) of abuse. Often times, the combination of two controlled substances can cause a potentiating effect. Combining Xanax with substances other than alcohol or drugs, such as taking alprazolam with grapefruit, can also cause dangerous effects.

Xanax, or its generic form alprazolam, can have deadly consequences when combined with other drugs, especially other depressants.

Combining Xanax with the following types of drugs may lead to shallow respiratory breathing, overdose, and death:

  • alcohol
  • heroin
  • opioids/opiates,
  • barbiturates
  • sleeping pills
  • muscle relaxers
  • benzodiazepines
  • other depressants

Learn more about Xanax and polysubstance abuse by reading the following articles:

Treatment Options For Xanax Abuse And Addiction

There are a number of treatment options for Xanax abuse and addiction. The two main options are inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment.

Inpatient treatment is much more intense than outpatient treatment. The patient goes into a detox facility, and they stay there 24/7 for several weeks up to several months. This is often the most effective option for those with a Xanax addiction.

Read more about how to safely detox from Xanax

Patients aren’t able to leave, so they cannot get more Xanax when the cravings start to hit. Staff and peers are there to offer support. Individual and group therapy are a large component of inpatient treatment.

However, inpatient treatment isn’t the best option for everyone. People with demanding jobs or children may not be able to leave their responsibilities for weeks. Furthermore, inpatient treatment can be more expensive than other treatments.

Outpatient treatment refers to treatment that occurs multiple times a week at a rehab facility. With outpatient treatment for Xanax addiction, the recovering individual goes home and sleeps in their own bed at the end of the day.

There is still plenty of support, but the person isn’t as immersed into the program. This can lead to relapse, and the person won’t have staff available when going through Xanax withdrawal.

Since the body becomes dependent on the substance, it is not generally recommended to quit taking Xanax cold turkey. Professional treatment can help a person wean off the medication safely until they no longer need to take it.

Managing Anxiety Without Xanax

Part of a person’s Xanax addiction treatment should be focusing on what to do about the root of the problem—the anxiety. For the people that started taking Xanax to curb anxiety, the anxiety doesn’t go away once they get off the drug.

It’s important to learn alternative ways to manage anxiety without medication to avoid falling back into old patterns. One of the best things to do is to focus on physical health.

Going to the gym and yoga are great ways to help force the body to relax. It’s also a good idea to take time out once a week to do something specifically for the person, such as band practice, book club, or a regular night out with friends.

Anxiety is a very real condition, and it can prevent people from living up to their full potential. That’s why many people go to the doctor to find a solution. Too often, the solution to the problem is to prescribe Xanax.

A highly addictive substance, it can be difficult to get off Xanax once the body is used to it. Luckily, there are people who want to help and effective programs to aid addicted individuals in entering recovery.

If you or someone you know has a problem with Xanax abuse or addiction, call on our treatment professionals today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 20, 2020
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