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Xanax Addiction, Withdrawal, and Treatment

Xanax is a prescription medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It is commonly used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia.³ However, due to the sedative effects of Xanax, it can also be misused and lead to addiction.⁴

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Understanding Xanax Addiction

Xanax affects the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps to calm down the nervous system. This produces feelings of relaxation and euphoria, making Xanax addictive for some individuals.³ Xanax is often taken in higher doses or more frequently than prescribed, leading to tolerance and physical dependence.³

Signs of Xanax Addiction

Often considered the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, people of all ages, races, and genders can be addicted to Xanax.⁴ Some symptoms of Xanax abuse include:

  • Taking larger doses or using it for longer periods than recommended
  • Cravings and preoccupation with obtaining and using the drug
  • Continuing to use it despite negative consequences, such as financial problems or strained relationships with friends and family members
  • Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or cut back on usage
  • Physical signs of use, such as slurred speech, slowed reflexes, and poor coordination

Along with the physical symptoms of Xanax use, such as slurred speech, there are also behavioral signs of Xanax abuse, such as:

  • Changes in social circles and neglect of responsibilities
  • Mood swings and irritability when not using the drug
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence of Xanax

How Addictive is Xanax?

Xanax can be highly addictive, especially when used for extended periods or in larger doses than prescribed. Due to its calming and sedative effects, it is often misused as a way to escape from stress and anxiety. This can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.⁴

Research has shown that Xanax causes changes in the brain’s reward system, making it more difficult for individuals to stop using it. It also has a short half-life, meaning that its effects wear off quickly, leading users to take more of the drug to maintain the desired high.³

xanax addiction

How Dangerous Are Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal from Xanax can be severe and even life-threatening.² Abruptly stopping or reducing usage can cause an array of symptoms, including:

  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tremors and muscle spasms

These symptoms of Xanax abuse can be particularly dangerous for individuals who have been using it for an extended period or in high doses. It is essential to seek medical supervision when discontinuing Xanax usage to ensure a safe and comfortable withdrawal process.²

Factors that can make Xanax withdrawal more dangerous include:

  • Using Xanax with other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids
  • Having a history of seizures or other medical conditions
  • Abruptly stopping usage instead of gradually tapering off

What is Xanax Commonly Prescribed For?

Xanax is commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and insomnia. It may also be used to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms or as a premedication before surgeries.

However, due to its addictive nature, it is crucial to take Xanax only as prescribed by a doctor and not to exceed the recommended dosage or duration of usage. Additionally, patients should be regularly monitored to ensure they are not developing a Xanax addiction.

Treating Anxiety Disorders, Panic Disorders, and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

For individuals struggling with substance abuse, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder, there are alternative treatment options available. Alternative options to treat anxiety disorders may include therapy, lifestyle changes, and non-addictive medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).¹

Xanax may be prescribed to manage alcohol withdrawal, but it should only be used for a short period and under close supervision. Other medications, such as benzodiazepine receptor partial agonists, may also be prescribed to help individuals safely detox from alcohol without developing a new addiction.

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Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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What Xanax Treatment Options Are Available?

Xanax addiction treatment typically involves a combination of therapy and addiction medicine at a treatment center. The first step is often a medically assisted detox program to manage withdrawal symptoms safely.¹

After detox, individuals may benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or other forms of therapy to address underlying issues and learn coping strategies for managing anxiety and stress without Xanax. Additionally, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be prescribed to help individuals manage cravings and prevent relapse.

Recovery from Xanax addiction is a process that takes time, effort, and support. Individuals may find it helpful to seek inpatient or outpatient at a substance use disorder rehab. Xanax addiction treatment should also address any co-occurring mental health disorders to promote long-term sobriety, and a treatment facility often provides a comprehensive treatment plan.¹

A treatment program may include the following options as part of the recovery process:

  • Family therapy and group therapy sessions
  • Individual counseling
  • Support groups, such as 12-step programs or SMART Recovery
  • Holistic therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and art therapy

What Treatment for Xanax Abuse is Right For Me?

therapy for xanax addiction

Inpatient Treatment at a Rehab Center

Inpatient treatment involves residing at a rehab center for an extended period, usually 30-90 days. Rehab programs provide around-the-clock supervision and support for individuals who may require medical detox and a more structured environment to recover from Xanax use.²

Outpatient Programs at Treatment Centers

Outpatient treatment programs offer more flexibility, allowing individuals to attend therapy and support group sessions while still living at home. This option may be appropriate for those who have completed inpatient treatment or are struggling less with abusing Xanax. Types of outpatient treatment include: ¹

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  • Traditional Outpatient Services

How Long Does Xanax Treatment Take?

The length of Xanax treatment varies depending on the individual’s needs and progress. It can take several months or even years to achieve long-term recovery from Xanax addiction fully.²

Aftercare programs, such as sober living homes or ongoing therapy, are integral parts of maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse. Many individuals in recovery continue with some form of therapy, support group, or maintenance medication to help manage their anxiety and prevent a Xanax relapse. Recovery is an ongoing process that requires commitment and dedication, but it is possible with the right treatment and support.

Withdrawal from Xanax typically occurs in three stages:

  1. Early withdrawal: This stage usually starts within 24 hours of the last dose and can include symptoms that affect the central nervous system, such as anxiety, insomnia, and tremors.²
  2. Peak withdrawal: This stage often occurs between days two and four and includes more severe symptoms such as seizures, panic attacks, and hallucinations. Medical supervision is crucial during this time to ensure the individual’s safety in the case of respiratory depression or other depressive symptoms.²
  3. Late withdrawal: This stage can last for several weeks and includes lingering symptoms such as cravings, fatigue, and irritability. Ongoing support, relapse prevention strategies, and therapy can help individuals manage these symptoms and maintain their sobriety long-term.²

What Risk Factors Contribute to Xanax Abuse?

Various factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing a Xanax addiction⁴, including:

  • Personal or family history of severe addictions to drugs or alcohol abuse
  • Co-occurring mental disorders, such as anxiety and panic disorders
  • High stress levels and difficulty coping with stressors
  • Access to Xanax through prescriptions or illegal means
  • Behavioral health conditions, such as impulsivity or sensation-seeking behavior
  • A personal history of alcohol use or other type of drug abuse

It is essential to seek help as soon as possible if you or someone you know has one or more of these risk factors and is showing signs of being addicted to Xanax. Early intervention and treatment can help prevent substance use disorders from developing and can help individuals with Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

Are Other Benzodiazepines Addictive?

Yes, other benzodiazepines can also be addictive when misused or taken for extended periods. Commonly prescribed benzos, such as Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin, can cause physical dependence and addiction with prolonged use.⁴ It is essential to carefully follow medication instructions and speak with a healthcare provider if any concerns arise, even when prescribed Xanax.

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How Much Does Substance Abuse Treatment for Xanax Cost?

The cost of treatment for Xanax addiction may vary depending on the type of program, length of treatment, and location. In general, inpatient programs tend to be more expensive than outpatient options, with 24/7 medical care and other amenities being a significant factor in cost.

However, insurance coverage may cover some or all of the costs of substance use disorder treatment, including Xanax addiction. It is essential to check with your insurance provider and talk to the staff at an addiction treatment center to find out if they accept your insurance plan. Some facilities also offer payment plans or sliding scale fees for those who may not have insurance or are unable to afford treatment.

Getting Help for Xanax Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax abuse and addiction, know that help is available. Seeking professional treatment at a rehab center can provide the support and resources needed to stop abusing Xanax and achieve long-term recovery. Remember, recovery is possible with the right treatment, commitment, and ongoing support.

At Woburn Wellness, our compassionate, professional staff members are dedicated to providing help to those addicted to Xanax and/or other drugs. We offer a variety of individualized treatment programs, including inpatient and outpatient options, to address each person’s unique needs and circumstances, such as individual counseling, group therapy, and medication management. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and how we can help you or your loved one on the journey toward recovery.

Getting Help for Xanax Abuse and Addiction

Additional Support for Individuals Addicted to Xanax

  • Support groups, such as 12-step programs (including Narcotics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA)’s rehab facility locator tool
  • Sober living homes to provide a structured, substance-free environment
  • Therapy and counseling, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Family support and education to address the impact of addiction on loved ones

Sources:

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research-based guide (third edition).
  2. Brett, J., & Murnion, B. (2015). Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. Australian prescriber, 38(5), 152–155.
  3. Tan, K. R., Rudolph, U., & Lüscher, C. (2011). Hooked on benzodiazepines: GABAA receptor subtypes and addiction. Trends in neurosciences, 34(4), 188–197.
  4. Maust, D. T., Lin, L. A., & Blow, F. C. (2019). Benzodiazepine use and misuse among adults in the United States. Psychiatric services, 70(2), 97–106.
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Addiction treatment specialist

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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