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4 Signs of Xanax Addiction: Is it Time to Go to Rehab?

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signs of Xanax addiction

Xanax is the brand name for a popular benzodiazepine drug called alprazolam. It is the most widely prescribed and abused benzodiazepine drug in the United States.[1] Xanax is used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia, but it is also a popular drug of abuse.

When used for an extended period of time or in higher doses than prescribed, an addiction to Xanax can form. People who abuse Xanax may appear very tired, fatigued, and calm. They may also lack the energy or motivation to complete tasks or engage with loved ones.

Left untreated, Xanax addiction can have devastating, long-term consequences. As a result, it is crucial for friends and family to be able to recognize the signs of symptoms of Xanax addiction.

Four Signs of Xanax Addiction

Xanax can be a highly effective medication when it is taken as prescribed, but people who are addicted to it abuse the drug by taking it in higher doses than directed or more often. They may also buy Xanax on the street after running out of their prescription too early. But how do you know if someone is under the influence of Xanax?

Common side effects of Xanax abuse include:[2]

1. Being Under the Influence of Xanax, Even at Inappropriate Times

Xanax can be a highly effective medication when it is taken as prescribed, but people who are addicted to it abuse the drug by taking it in higher doses than directed or more often. They may also buy Xanax on the street after running out of their prescription too early. But how do you know if someone is under the influence of Xanax?

Common side effects of Xanax abuse include:[2]

  • Forgetfulness
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Changes in speech patterns/rhythms
  • Clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Memory impairment

In high doses, Xanax may produce a state of intoxication that appears outwardly as if someone is drunk or under the influence of alcohol. When combined with alcohol, these effects will be even more pronounced.

2. Issues With Memory and Learning

One of the easiest ways for friends and family to spot Xanax abuse and addiction in a loved one is to consider the person’s cognition. Xanax abuse is infamous for causing issues with short-term memory. People who are under the influence of Xanax may seem especially forgetful and they may have difficulty remembering something that just happened. They may also forget when they took their drugs last, causing them to take many doses over a short period of time.

After long-term Xanax abuse, users may have difficulty forming new memories and learning new tasks. They may also struggle with concentration, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The effects long-term alprazolam use can have on cognition are one of the reasons why this medication is only intended for short-term use.[3]

3. Suffering Xanax Withdrawal When the Drugs Run Out

Xanax (alprazolam) works by increasing the amount and reuptake of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, thereby producing a calming, tranquilizing effect. Over time, the body gets used to having the drug in the system and requires its presence to maintain balance. If someone who is addicted to Xanax stops taking it suddenly, they may experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:[1]

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sweating
  • Discomfort
  • Light sensitivity
  • Seizures
  • Severe confusion
  • Psychosis (hallucinations, delusions, and delirium)

If you’ve noticed your loved one feeling particularly irritable, extremely sick, or anxious after their prescription or stash runs out, they may be struggling with addiction.

4. Buying Xanax Illegally

People who take Xanax as directed by their physician do not have to worry about whether or not they are addicted. However, people who are addicted may run out of their prescription early and turn to other means to get more Xanax.

Two ways people may purchase Xanax illegally are by doctor shopping or the black market. Doctor shopping is a term used to describe visiting multiple physicians, in secret, in an attempt to get more than one prescription. Depending on the state of residence, there may be severe consequences for this. Alternatively, buying Xanax on the streets can be incredibly dangerous. For example, many counterfeit fentanyl pills contain fentanyl, a powerful and deadly opioid that is responsible for a recent wave of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S.

Is it Time to Get Help for Xanax Addiction?

Knowing when it is time to get help for addiction isn’t always easy. If you or a loved one relates to the four symptoms listed above, you likely need help from a trusted Xanax rehab center.

Other signs of Xanax addiction include:

  • Tolerance–needing to increase the dose you take, over time, to feel the desired effects
  • Having regular cravings for Xanax
  • Spending excess time buying, using, and thinking about Xanax
  • Lying to friends and family about your drug use
  • Mixing Xanax with other substances to enhance the psychoactive effects
  • Wanting to stop using Xanax but failing to be able to do so
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Pushing responsibilities to the side due to your drug use
  • Continuing to use Xanax despite the problems it is having in your life
  • Using Xanax to cope with undiagnosed feelings of depression, anxiety, or trauma
  • Using Xanax to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay
  • Strained relationships with family and friends
  • Financial problems due to drug-related spending

If you or a loved one relate to two or more symptoms listed, it’s time to contact an addiction specialist for a substance abuse evaluation.

xanax abuse and addiction

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At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, are firmly grounded in the philosophy that life choices and the skills to influence those choices can break the cycle of addiction and return people to a life of purpose. Our entire staff has the professional training necessary to guide each client to their highest potential through substance use disorder recovery.​ To learn more about our Massachusetts benzodiazepine rehab program or to speak with an admissions coordinator about starting treatment, please contact us today.


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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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