Xanax–otherwise known as alprazolam–is a drug designed to help treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and in some cases, nausea and vomiting but, as a benzodiazepine Xanax is also highly addictive. Xanax addiction can result after a relatively short period of repeat Xanax use.  Xanax is considered to be a Schedule IV controlled substance because even though it has a relatively low potential for misuse, there are many individuals in the U.S. who illicitly use the drug for “recreational” means.

Xanax (alprazolam) is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine medications to treat anxiety and panic disorders, accounting for over 48 million filled prescriptions in the U.S. It is estimated that nearly 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, with 30% of those overdoses involving the use of benzodiazepines like xanax. Xanax is a medication with abuse potential, that must be used with great care to ensure no accidental addictions occur. Xanax addiction treatment must also be handled with great care.

How Is Xanax Used?

Alprazolam (xanax) is one of the most prescribed benzodiazepines in the U.S. It is also a drug with one of the highest rates of abuse. The drug is commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, panic, and seizures disorders, and are highly sought after for the sedated feeling of calm that they onset. Yet, despite xanax’s high misuse rates and its high potential for addiction, there are not many methods in which the drug is used for illicit use.

Other substances like heroin, methamphetamines, amphetamines, and crack cocaine have multiple methods that can be utilized by individuals to insert the substances into their bloodstream, brain, and other bodily systems. But, xanax only comes in one form for both medicinal and “recreational” uses, as a pill or tablet.

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The Signs of Xanax Abuse

Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine, with an amazing ability to help people who suffer from anxiety disorders feel calmer when used correctly. Yet, as a drug that affects the central nervous system directly, and can onset heightened feelings of tranquility and general euphoria, xanax is commonly misused and can be highly addictive.

As a result, it is important that if you or your loved ones use xanax for any medical reason, that you be aware of the warning signs of abuse and potential addiction. It is also important to be aware of these signs even if you or one of your loved ones does not use xanax for any medical treatment, as many individuals who do not need to use xanax will still abuse the drug for its immediate euphoric, calm, and tranquility inspiring side effects. The typical signs of xanax abuse include:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, and / or school.
  • Getting involved in legal trouble (like getting arrested for disorderly conduct).
  • Taking unnecessary and unsafe risks, like driving while intoxicated, engaging in dangerous activities, or particpating in unprotected sex.
  • Changes in behavior.
  • Experiencing extensive lethargy.
  • Being incredibly sluggish.
  • Experiencing an overall lack of energy or enthusiasm for anything.
  • General lazy, inactivity.
  • Sudden mood swings.
  • Excessive irritability.
  • Memory issues.
  • Excessive talkativeness associated with the euphoria onset by their high.
  • Increased drowsiness.
  • Experiencing frequent headaches, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
  • Having changes in pupil size and sometimes bloodshot eyes.
  • May complain of increased salivation or dry mouth.
  • Experiencing constipation.
  • Has increased, “inexplicable” nausea.
  • Changes to sex drive.
  • Has a sudden change in normal hangout spots, and friend groups.
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.
  • Financial issues.

Physical Signs of Xanax Abuse

There are many symptoms that xanax can cause to onset in individuals, all varying in intensity and affecting both the body and mind. Despite the severity that can accompany xanax symptoms of use, misuse, and addiction, it can be rather hard to identify whether or not someone you love has a serious problem with using the drug or not. The physical signs of xanax abuse can be varied, and often include:

  • Changes in sex drive.
  • Increased salivation.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Memory issues.
  • Increased talkativeness.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Getting involved in legal trouble.
  • Changing friend groups and hangout spots.
  • Financial issues.
  • Neglect of responsibilities at home, work, and / or school.
  • Low energy levels.

Behavioral Signs of Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse has many different physical signs that you can watch out for, but it also has many psychological and behavioral symptoms you can coach yourself to be aware of as well. The signs of xanax abuse can be rather difficult to pick out in an individual, no matter how intense they may be, due to an individual’s own attempts to hide their problems from their family, and many symptoms being confused with other health complications.

Remember, if you are worried that you or a loved one of yours is struggling with a xanax addiction, it is always best to stay vigilant, and contact a medical professional or drug and alcohol rehab for more help if you are unsure of the symptoms you are witnessing. It is always better to be safe than sorry. And many physical signs of abuse can also relate to or aggravate behavioral and psychological symptoms as well. Some of the most common behavioral signs of xanax abuse include:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities they used to enjoy.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends, self isolating.
  • Experiencing sudden mood swings.
  • Being extremely irritable.
  • Changes in attitude and behavior.
  • Self neglect, poor hygiene.
  • Sleep at strange hours or having abnormal sleep patterns (insomnia or sleeping too much).
  • Feeling tired or fatigued all of the time.
  • Feeling extremely sluggish.
  • Being / feeling lazy and inactive.
  • Experiencing extreme lethargy, lack of energy, or enthusiasm for / towards anything and everything.

Xanax Signs of Addiction

As telling as they may be, the signs of xanax abuse are only the beginning of the listed effects the drug can onset in individuals who misuse and abuse it for an extended amount of time. Of course, not every individual who suffers from a xanax addiction will experience every single effect listed, but it is more than likely that these individuals will experience a plethora of uncomfortable, intense, and at times severe effects. The most well known and common signs of xanax addiction include:

  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies they used to enjoy.
  • Self isolating, withdrawing from friends and family members.
  • Having constant financial difficulties.
  • Neglecting work, school, and home responsibilities.
  • Neglecting themselves, having poor hygiene.
  • Changing their normal hangouts and friend groups.
  • Getting into legal trouble.
  • Hanging out with shady or “undesirable” characters.
  • Having severe mood swings.
  • Being extremely irritable.
  • Engaging in risky activities or behaviour (such as driving under the influence, swimming while intoxicated, or engaging in unportoected sex).
  • Developing severe health conditions and complications related to xanax misuse.
  • Has no energy, extremely lethargic.
  • Feel extremely sleepy, drowsy or tired.
  • Becomes confused easily.
  • Has extremely talkative outbursts.
  • Experiences short lived feelings of extreme relaxation.
  • Has short lived feelings of decreased anxiety.
  • Experiences dizziness, lightheadedness, and headaches frequently.
  • Slurs words or stutters.
  • Has memory retention issues.
  • Experience short lasting euphoria.
  • Experiences blurred or double vision.
  • Is unable to judge distances, has impared motor and movement skills.
  • Have stomach cramps and nausea.
  • Loss of interest in sex, or body does not function properly during sex.
  • Has dry mouth or salivates more than usual.
  • Experiences menstruation issues (women).
  • Becomes depressed.
  • Experiences withdrawal effects when they are not actively using.
  • Developes dream abnormalities.
  • Has abnormal sleeping patterns (insomnia or oversleeping).
  • Experiences changes in appetite that either relate in extreme weight loss or weight gain.
  • Develops muscle weakness, cramps, twitching, and impaired coordination.

Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

Many of the warning signs for drug use and addiction can translate into the symptoms of xanax addiction, and subsequent consequences of this intense misuse of the drug. The initial symptoms can be rather hard to pick up on, much like the initial warning signs of xanax abuse, but do exist and are typically more intense than the overall warning signs. Symptoms of xanax addiction can include:

  • Experiences menstruation issues (women).
  • Becomes depressed.
  • Experiences withdrawal effects when they are not actively using.
  • Developes dream abnormalities.
  • Has abnormal sleeping patterns (insomnia or oversleeping).
  • Experiences changes in appetite that either relate in extreme weight loss or weight gain.
  • Develops muscle weakness, cramps, twitching, and impaired coordination.
  • Slurs words or stutters.
  • Has memory retention issues.
  • Experience short lasting euphoria.
  • Experiences blurred or double vision.
  • Is unable to judge distances, has impared motor and movement skills.
  • Have stomach cramps and nausea.
  • Loss of interest in sex, or body does not function properly during sex.
  • Has dry mouth or salivates more than usual.
  • Getting into legal trouble.
  • Hanging out with shady or “undesirable” characters.
  • Having severe mood swings.
  • Being extremely irritable.
  • Engaging in risky activities or behaviour (such as driving under the influence, swimming while intoxicated, or engaging in unportoected sex).
  • Developing severe health conditions and complications related to xanax misuse.
  • Has no energy, extremely lethargic.
  • Feel extremely sleepy, drowsy or tired.
  • Becomes confused easily.
  • Has extremely talkative outbursts.
  • Experiences short lived feelings of extreme relaxation.
  • Has short lived feelings of decreased anxiety.
  • Experiences dizziness, lightheadedness, and headaches frequently.
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies they used to enjoy.
  • Self isolating, withdrawing from friends and family members.
  • Having constant financial difficulties.
  • Neglecting work, school, and home responsibilities.
  • Neglecting themselves, having poor hygiene.
  • Changing their normal hangouts and friend groups.

Xanax Abuse Side Effects

Individuals who suffer from a xanax addiction–or any other type of substance use disorder–lose control over their own minds and actions. Addiction is a chronic disease of the mind that when paired with highly addictive substances like xanax, can create lifelong consequences and complications to overall health and life. The initial warning signs of xanax use may seem rather mild, and can be hard to detect in some individuals. The symptoms of xanax addiction take those signs a step further, often intensifying the effects of those signs.

Xanax abuse side effects are typically much more intense and extensive, involving both the side effects of the initial high, and those symptoms that follow closely behind. The side effects of xanax abuse can be extremely uncomfortable, and do not normally fully dissipate after an individual’s “high” cycle. These xanax side effects can include:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Decreased salivation
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Short-lived euphoria
  • Feelings of well-being
  • Relaxation
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Changes in sexual ability
  • Increased salivation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizure (in severe cases)
  • Coma (in severe cases)
  • Yellowing of eyes or skin
  • Clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Persistent tiredness or fatigue
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Mood swings
  • Increased irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Issues with short term memory
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Tremors
  • Increase or decreased appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Low energy levels
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Heightened nervousness
  • Fainting
  • Restlessness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rash
  • Palpitations
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation of skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Chest pain
  • Hyperventilation
  • Blurred vision
  • Menstrual cycle disruptions
  • Sweating
  • General overall weakness
  • Upper respiratory infection(s)
  • Increased fear
  • Rigidity

Physical Xanax Addiction Signs

Even when used correctly xanax can have many symptoms, signs, and side effects. These side effects can vary in frequency, intensity, and even in the way they manifest in the body. As a drug / medication that works to help individuals remain calm, xanax typically affects the way in which the mind works. But xanax–especially when misused for a long period of time–can also onset physical side effects as well. Both physical and mental side effects of xanax addiction and abuse can be dangerous, lead to dangerous situations, and be extremely uncomfortable. In some severe cases where an individual experiences a xanax overdose, physical and mental symptoms can lead to potentially life-threatening complications and circumstances. If you think that you, or your loved one, is struggling with a xanax addiction, it is imperative that you get professional help as soon as possible. The physical side effects of xanax addiction include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tremors
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Swelling of hands or feet
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Rash
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Stuffy / congested nose
  • Chest pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Increased or decreased salivation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Clammy skin
  • Weak and rapid heartbeat
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Long Term Effects of Xanax

Like other substances xanax has different ranges and timelines associated with its side effects. Not every individual who uses or misuses xanax will experience every effect, or have the most intense encounters with each symptom as the drug interacts with each person differently. Yet, even though this is a known fact that xanax affects everyone differently–in both licit and illicit use standings–it has been determined that some effects can be charted as either short term or long term occurring. For instance, the euphoric side effects xanax produces are considered short term, occurring within second to minutes after use and only lasts for a few hours after each dose–thus why “recreational” users will take multiple doses in a day to try to retain their lighthearted feelings. But xanax also has long term effects including:

  • Memory issues
  • Impaired coordination
  • Building tolerance
  • Heightened depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and / or actions
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe aggressive or violent mood swings and behaviour
  • Increased energy levels
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Seizures

Dangers Associated With Polysubstance Abuse

The term polysubstance abuse refers to the co-occurrence of multiple mental and substance use disorders. It is the consumption of more than one substance over a period of time that typically occurs with stimulant type drugs like Xanax, and is commonly associated with co-occurring mental health disorders.

Over 7.7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from co-occurring disorders and polysubstance abuse. The most dangerous aspect of polysubstance abuse is that the occurrence allows for multiple side effects to occur simultaneously from each disorder. So an individual who suffers from depression may drink to cope with their feelings, becoming addicted to alcohol as they continue to misuse it habitually and worsen their depression, thus turning to a drug like Xanax in an attempt to override their deep sadness and hopelessness, thus also becoming addicted to the drug as their misuse continues.

People who suffer from co-occurring disorders are likely to experience all of the worst effects of their drugs of choice at once, and at higher intensities, as the substances begin to interact with one another. This overlap can cause an individual to overdose on one or all of their substances in an attempt to escape these negative side effects, and can also make life-saving treatments and drug and alcohol rehab very difficult. Oftentimes, polysubstance abuse side effects begin to merge together, exaggerating the effects of one of the disorders and hiding the other behind those symptoms, which makes it extremely hard to diagnose.

Of course, with a little persistence and great attention to detail, it is possible for a doctor to identify and diagnose an individual with polysubstance abuse and a co-occurring disorder. Once they have been diagnosed, they can move on to withdrawal and treatment, but for individuals who suffer from polysubstance abuse, these treatment methods and tools normally take longer than normally advertised, as each co-occurring disorder must be treated simultaneously, but as separate issues. Individuals who suffer from polysubstance abuse disorders must attend treatment for longer periods of time, have more hands-on, supervised treatment sessions, and will need a medical staff that works closely together to plan their treatment carefully so that each disorder is treated simultaneously, but separately, and that one treatment method does not negatively impact another. Mixing Xanax with other types of substances can have disastrous effects.

Mixing Xanax and Heroin

Combining xanax and heroin produces a multitude of effects. The most prominent effects of which include a more potent, powerful high, as well as the heightened potential to experience life-threatening withdrawal effects and overdose. Although the main purpose noted for combining Xanax and heroin is for users to achieve a stronger, longer-lasting high, it has also been reported that using this combination of drugs to try and come down from highs on other types of drugs–or lessening the effects of withdrawal symptoms in a non-medical setting–is also popular.

Mixing xanax and heroin can have vastly different outcomes and lead to extremely dangerous situations, but the exact outcome is almost impossible to predict as both drugs may interact differently with each other (dependent on their purity and dose used), and may also interact with every individual differently than another.

Mixing Xanax and Cocaine

Mixing xanax and cocaine is extremely dangerous and can onset severe withdrawal symptoms, or cause an overdose. The use of these two stimulants together is extremely dangerous and can cause severe health complications in addition to raising the potential of experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms and overdose.

Individuals who mix Xanax and cocaine have a higher risk of developing and experiencing extreme cardiovascular (heart) issues, and may develop substance abuse induced psychosis that can cause them to misinterpret reality, and put themselves and others in danger. Even though these two substances are separately meant to make people feel at ease, and used in conjunction in an effort to intensify and lengthen a euphoric high, their combined use frequently inspires increased panic attacks and anxiety issues in individuals who mix Xanax and cocaine.

Mixing Xanax and Meth

The combination of xanax and meth use largely has the same effects and risk potential as the mixing of Xanax with cocaine. Meth (methamphetamine) is a central nervous system stimulant that when combined with Xanax often puts excessive strain on the heart, as Xanax tells the mind and body to calm and meth tells it to speed up.

This difference in signals from both drugs causes the heart to speed up its functions, increasing the individual’s heart rate and blood pressure, putting the user at risk to experience heart-related issues as well as increase the risk for them to overdose or develop potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Both xanax and alcohol are considered to be substances that target the central nervous system. Although their initial effects stimulate feelings of well-being, euphoria, and energy, both substances are considered to be depressive in nature, helping to calm or sedate people when used correctly. But, when misused and used in conjunction with one another, Xanax and alcohol have devastating effects on the body. Individuals who combine Xanax and alcohol run the risk or slowing down their heart rate and breathing to a point where their heart or lungs cease working altogether, as well as run the risk of increasing their chances for fatal overdose, injuring others while they are intoxicated, increase their risk to experience a non-fatal overdose, and the potential of developing severe heart and lung-related health concerns. Mixing Xanax and alcohol can also cause a plethora of other health related issues, including building an individual’s tolerance to certain medicines.

Mixing Xanax and Fentanyl

More than 30% of overdoses involve both benzodiazepines and opioids. Xanax (a benzodiazepine) and fentanyl (a synthetic opioid) are also two drugs that are often misused in conjunction with one another, either in an attempt to prolong the effects of the high, or in an attempt to ease the effects of coming off of a high. Combining the use of Xanax and fentanyl (no matter in what manner or method) increases an individual’s risk for overdose. Other risks involved with mixing Xanax and fentanyl include–but are not limited to–developing or worsening mental health conditions, sleep issues, and suffering from heart-related complications.

The Causes of a Xanax Addiction

A xanax addiction is a disease that originates, operates, and changes the way in which the brain works. Addiction can be long lasting, cause other severe health consequences and side effects, and can become a chronic relapsing issue in an individual’s life. When people think of addiction, then normally think of illegal substances like heroin, but men and women of all ages can also become addicted to other illegal substances, prescription medications, alcohol, or tobacco.

But, how does someone become addicted to xanax? Xanax use and xanax addiction can have many onsetting factors that overlap with one another. Individuals may originally be prescribed xanax to help with a panic disorder, and begin to misuse the drug for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • The conditions of their early childhood (was it happy, scary, traumatic, etc.).
  • Their current environment (do they fight with their partner often, do that struggle financially, etc.).
  • Their stress levels at home and work.
  • The health of their relationships.
  • Their personal self esteem.
  • Where their mental health is at.

Many individuals who do not struggle with a substance use or mental health disorder find it difficult to understand why someone would knowingly misuse, or become addicted to drugs and / or alcohol. It is important to realize that not everyone who misuses drugs or alcohol becomes addicted to the substances, and that for those who do become dependent on their drug of choice, is because drugs alter the way in which the mind works, and thus how individuals interact with their environment.

Addiction is not easy, it is a complicated issue, and anyone of any age can become addicted. Yet, there are some factors that can make some individuals more susceptible to addiction than others, including:

  • Genetics (if you have a history of individuals who suffer from drug or alcohol abuse in your family tree).
  • Gender (some substances affect men more than women and vice versa).
  • Height (different drugs interact with each individual’s body differently).
  • History of drug use.
  • Any other medications the individual is using.
  • Stress levels.
  • Mental health.
  • The health of their professional and personal relationships.

Xanax Addiction Facts

Since 2018 nearly 1 in every 5 adult individuals have reportedly suffered from a chronic drug or substance use issue, totally in over 164.8 million people across the U.S. Benzodiazepines like xanax that are utilized for their calming, sedative effects are one of the most commonly prescribed and abused types of drug in the U.S. The misuse of xanax and other benzodiazepines have been associated with emergency room visits, overdose, increase in mental health disorders, suicidal ideation, and risk for increase in other types of substance abuse. Other xanax fact include:

  • Xanax (also known as alprazolam) is a short acting benzodiazepine that targets the central nervous system, releasing a sedating effect that allows individuals who suffer from panic disorders to calm down, or remain calm through their triggers and moments of struggle.
  • Xanax can also be used to help wean individuals off of alcohol misuse and lighten the more severe effects of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Xanax is the most commonly prescribed prescription psychiatric medication in the U.S.
  • Xanax is also one of the most misused and abuse drugs in America, as users like to use the medication to either illicitly inspire a sense of euphoric calm, combine it with other substances that they abuse, or use the drug to help them come off of other drugs they use with “less” uncomfortable after effects.
  • In 2020, the FDA announced that they now require more specific box warnings on xanax and other benzodiazepines, in an attempt to help improve the safe, and proper use of the drug class.

Statistics of Xanax Addiction

Xanax is a complex medication with a plethora of effects, good and bad, that can translate into different facts and factors for its use. Despite the drug’s promising nature, helping those who suffer from panic disorders to remain calm, the misuse of the drug is widespread and has resulted in a world of new consequences and complications associated with its use. Some of the statistics for xanax addiction include:

  • On average, over 11,000 people die from an opioid and benzodiazepine related overdose each year.
  • Over 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders, that xanax is prescribed for, accounting for nearly $3.8 billion in America’s benzodiazepine market.
  • Recreational xanax abuse has resulted in over 124,902 emergency room visits since 2010.
  • Over 6 million people in the U.S. make use of medications that contain xanax every year.
  • An estimated 6.6% of the population–ages 12 and older–make use of xanax or alprazolam products every year.

Xanax Overdose

With so many individuals making use of xanax for medicinal purposes, it is often difficult for people to understand that the medication is also used in illicit practices. With that reluctance to believe that xanax xanax be a drug that is abused, many individuals fail to realize that it is possible for even medicinal users of xanax to overdose on the drug. Yes, it is possible to overdose on xanax and it can be very uncomfortable, and even potentially lead to life-threatening situations and circumstances.

There is always a risk for overdosing on xanax, even for prescription users of the medication, but even more so for those individuals who misuse alprazolam intentionally in seeking out a relaxing high. For medicinal users, doctors will try to avoid overdose by prescribing their patients with the lowest dose of the drug and by giving their client very specific instructions about how to take the medication and when. They will also try to refrain from filling a prescription with too much volume to it, and make sure to keep track of what they prescribed in the instance where a client uses more than they should and asks for more too quickly (as a sign of abuse and misuse of xanax).

Medical professionals aim to help their clients and also limit dependence risk to xanax by tracking their symptoms, and starting off by prescribing the lowest dose of the drug for the shortest amount of time, and reevaluating their clients condition as often and accurately as possible. Yet, even with all of the precaution, it is still possible for even a well meaning client to take too much xanax in one sitting and overdose. The typical symptoms involved with a xanax overdose include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Impaiared coordination
  • Reduced reflexes
  • Slurred speech
  • Altered mental state
  • Risk of coma
  • Risk of life threatening circumstances
  • Difficulty breathing (normally only if xanax is used with alcohol or other substances)

Individuals who overdose on xanax can experience either only a few of these symptoms, or all of them, and depending on outside factors, can have either a very mild reaction to their overdose, or a very severe one. Regardless if any individual is experiencing mild or severe xanax overdose symptoms, they should always receive emergency medical attention, just in case more intense side effects develop.