Xanax Abuse Information

Understanding Xanax Addiction

Learn About Xanax Addiction & Abuse

Xanax, or alprazolam, is an antianxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family of drugs. Also sometimes referred to as benzos, this drug family also includes Ativan, Valium, Klonopin, and other medications. Xanax acts as a depressant, meaning that it reduces central nervous system activity and thus helps individuals calm down when they are anxious. While Xanax can help provide relief to people who are suffering from anxiety disorders, like other benzos it also has the potential for abuse. When used recreationally, Xanax produces feelings of pleasure and relaxation; for this reason, benzos are also commonly used recreationally alongside other drugs, such as stimulants, to balance out the side effects of those drugs. With repeated use, it is possible for a person to become addicted to the drug, and a Xanax addiction has the potential to cause enormous and widespread devastation in a person’s life. Thankfully, however, treatment options are available to help individuals overcome a Xanax addiction.


Xanax Abuse Statistics

According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 0.5% of people aged 18 to 29 are likely to have abused prescription antianxiety medications in a given year, with men being slightly more likely than women to abuse these drugs. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that 2.2 million people abused tranquilizers like Xanax in 2010. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that Xanax-related emergency room admissions more than doubled in a recent six-year span, increasing from over 57,000 in 2005 to almost 124,000 in 2011.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Xanax Abuse

Researchers have identified a number of genetic and environmental risk factors for Xanax abuse, such as the following:

Genetic: A person’s genes can affect his or her risk of developing a Xanax use disorder. Genes seem to play an especially large role in determining a person’s risk of Xanax abuse during adolescence and adulthood. Furthermore, certain personality traits that may be genetically determined, such as novelty-seeking and impulsiveness, can influence a person’s risk of abusing Xanax.

Environmental: Perhaps the most influential risk factor for Xanax abuse is how easily accessible the drug is. People who are prescribed Xanax are naturally more likely to abuse it. In addition, people are more likely to abuse the drug if they spend time with others who abuse it or other drugs.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse or mental illness
  • Personal history of substance abuse or mental illness
  • Personality traits such as impulsivity or strong desire for new experiences
  • Easy access to Xanax
  • Age; people in their teens or twenties, or those older than 40, are more likely to abuse Xanax
  • Women are at a higher risk than men for Xanax abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Abuse

While each person’s struggle with Xanax can look different, the following are some common signs and symptoms that may suggest a person has a Xanax abuse disorder:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Taking more Xanax, or Xanax or over a longer period of time, than intended
  • Being unsuccessful in attempts to reduce one’s use of Xanax
  • Investing a lot of time and energy in obtaining Xanax
  • Visiting multiple different physicians in an attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions
  • Spending a great deal of time using Xanax or recovering from Xanax use
  • Continuing to abuse Xanax even if one is experiencing significant psychological or physical problems as a result of use
  • Not keeping up with work, home, or social obligations
  • Giving up social, work, or recreational activities in favor of use
  • Continuing to abuse Xanax even when doing so can place a person at risk of physical harm

Physical symptoms:

  • Needing a higher dose of Xanax in order to experience desired effects, known as tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal, which is a collection of unpleasant symptoms that emerge when one attempts to stop taking Xanax
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Poor coordination

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Having cravings or intense desires for Xanax
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Poor judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Experiencing significant social problems due to Xanax use
  • Aggression
  • Fluctuations in mood


Effects of Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse has the potential to cause widespread devastation in a person’s life. Some of these negative effects can include:

  • Vehicle accidents due to driving while high
  • Decline in work performance
  • Demotion or job loss
  • Financial difficulties
  • Relationship tension
  • Divorce
  • Loss of child custody
  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
  • Polysubstance use, addiction, or chemical dependency
  • Legal problems
  • Organ damage
  • Death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Xanax Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders

People who are diagnosed with Xanax use disorder may also meet criteria for other mental health disorders, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Other substance use disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Xanax Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Xanax withdrawal: When a person who has been taking Xanax recreationally for a long time attempts to stop using the drug, he or she may experience a collection of symptoms known as withdrawal as his or her body readjusts to functioning without the drug. These symptoms can include:

  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Temporary hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Twitching or jitteriness
  • Grand mal seizures

Effects of Xanax overdose: Sometimes a person may take more Xanax than his or her body can manage. This situation, known as an overdose, is very dangerous and can be fatal, especially if a person has taken Xanax in combination with other substances. A person who has been abusing Xanax and develops any of the following symptoms should receive immediate medical attention:

  • Dizziness
  • Delirium
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Changes in vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of motor control
  • Weakness
  • Hallucinations
  • Slowed breathing
  • Unconsciousness

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Xanax Addiction

Does Xanax cause slurred speech?

Slurred speech, drowsiness, impaired balance and coordination, and lightheadedness are among the possible side effects of Xanax use. When you take Xanax under the supervision of a qualified physician, your doctor can work with you to adjust your dosage to ensure that you are receiving maximum benefit from this medication while not being overly burdened by side effects such as slurred speech.

Does Xanax cause tremors?

Xanax use can cause tremors, but this is not a normal or common side effect. Experiencing tremors after taking Xanax can be a sign that your body is reacting negatively to the presence of this medication. If you are using Xanax as prescribed by your doctor, you should contact him or her immediately to report tremors, twitching, or any other distressing reactions.

What are the symptoms of an addiction to Xanax?

The following symptoms may indicate that you have become addicted to Xanax:

  • You find it difficult or impossible to get through the day without using Xanax.
  • When you can’t use Xanax, you become agitated, anxious, or otherwise upset.
  • You continue to abuse Xanax even after having negative experiences related to previous use of the drug.
  • You abuse Xanax in combination with alcohol or other drugs, prior to driving, or in other situations when it is clearly dangerous to do so.
  • You have lied or otherwise been deceptive regarding the amount and/or frequency of your Xanax use.

Is Xanax safe?

When used as directed under the supervision of a qualified medical professional, Xanax can be both safe and beneficial. However, if you abuse Xanax, either in an attempt to self-medicate or in pursuit of a recreational high, you can expose yourself to considerable harm, including both immediate and long-term damage.

How can a person tell if someone is addicted to Xanax?

The following are among the more common signs that may indicate that a person has become addicted to Xanax:

  • Being preoccupied with acquiring and using Xanax
  • Experiencing distress when incapable of using Xanax
  • Attempting to steal or borrow Xanax that has been prescribed to someone else
  • Visiting several doctors (a practice known as “doctor shopping”) in order to illicitly receive multiple prescriptions for Xanax
  • Using Xanax in times when it is clearly dangerous to do so, such as when drinking alcohol or when driving a car

Is Xanax an addictive drug?

The active ingredient in Xanax is alprazolam, which is a member of the benzodiazepine category of drugs. It is safe to use as directed by a doctor, but as is the case with all benzodiazepines, Xanax abuse can lead to addiction. If you or someone you care about has become addicted to Xanax, professional help may be necessary.

Why do people abuse Xanax?

Most cases of Xanax abuse can be placed into one of two categories:

  • Abusing Xanax as a means of self-medicating (for example, either to alleviate symptoms of a mental health disorder or to cope with stress or pressure)
  • Abusing Xanax for recreational purposes

Regardless of why a person begins to abuse Xanax, this is a dangerous behavior that can cause significant damage to the individual’s health and well-being.

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