Xanax Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Xanax Abuse

Learn About Xanax Addiction

Xanax is a prescription medication that is most commonly used to treat symptoms that are associated with various types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. The active ingredient in Xanax is alprazolam, a drug that is a member of the benzodiazepine category. Alprazolam acts as a depressant on the central nervous system, so when a person ingests Xanax, he or she will experience a state of sedate relaxation. Unfortunately, Xanax’s ability to elicit such pleasant feelings also makes the drug an enticing choice for individuals who desire a recreational high. The recreational abuse of Xanax is also fueled by the prevalence of this medication, which is typically among the top 10 most commonly prescribed medications every year.

Regardless of why a person first uses Xanax, he or she is at risk for developing tolerance and dependence. As is the case with substance use disorders involving other prescription medications and other benzodiazepines, Xanax addiction can be difficult to overcome without effective professional treatment.


Xanax Addiction Statistics

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA), more than two million people abuse Xanax and other prescription tranquilizers every year. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) reports that the prevalence of prescription antianxiety medication abuse among young adults ages 18 to 29 is about 0.5% of that population. Between 2005 and 2011, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) recorded more than 900,000 emergency room visits that involved Xanax or another benzodiazepine-based prescription medication.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Xanax Addiction

The following are among the many genetic and environmental risk factors can influence a person’s predisposition for Xanax abuse and addiction:

Genetic: Genetic influences have been determined play a significant role in determining a person’s risk of Xanax abuse during adolescence and adulthood. Individuals whose parents or siblings have struggled with a substance use disorder are at increased risk for a similar experience. Also, heritable personality traits such as novelty-seeking and impulsiveness can increase the likelihood that a person will struggle with addiction.

Environmental: One of the strongest environmental influences on Xanax abuse and addiction is easy access to the drug, which may include being prescribed this medication for a legitimate medical purpose. Associating with individuals who abuse Xanax can also increase the likelihood that a person will struggle with Xanax abuse.

Risk Factors:

  • Being female
  • Being between the ages of 12 and 30
  • Personal or family history of mental illness
  • Personal or family history of substance use disorder
  • Impulsivity
  • Novelty seeking personality
  • Having been prescribed Xanax
  • Easy access to Xanax

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

Xanax abuse and addiction can reveal itself via myriad signs and symptoms, including but not limited to the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Taking more Xanax than intended
  • Trying but failing to reduce Xanax use
  • Visiting multiple doctors in search of Xanax prescriptions
  • Borrowing or stealing Xanax
  • Continuing to abuse Xanax even after experiencing negative repercussions as a result of prior Xanax abuse
  • Secrecy or deception about one’s activities or whereabouts
  • Loss of interest in significant activities

Physical symptoms:

  • Tolerance to Xanax
  • Withdrawal symptoms in absence of Xanax
  • Slurring speech
  • Impaired coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vision problems

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Impaired judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unprovoked aggression


Effects of Xanax Addiction

Untreated abuse of Xanax can lead to a wide range of negative outcomes, including the following:

  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Disinhibition
  • Mania
  • Jaundice
  • Organ damage
  • Diminished performance at work or in school
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Family discord
  • Separation, divorce, and loss of child custody
  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
  • Other forms of substance abuse
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Homelessness

Co-Occurring Disorders

Xanax Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

People who are diagnosed with Xanax use disorder are at increased risk for experiencing the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social phobia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Other substance use disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Know the Effects of Xanax Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of Xanax withdrawal: When a person has become dependent upon Xanax, cessation or significant reduction in use can trigger several unpleasant symptoms, including the following:

  • Powerful cravings for Xanax
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors and twitching
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Dangerously rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizure

Effects of Xanax overdose: When a person ingests Xanax in a quantity that exceeds his or her body’s ability to metabolize or eliminate, he or she is at risk of overdose. Anyone who exhibits the following signs after ingesting Xanax may be in need of immediate medical attention:

  • Anxiety
  • Extreme confusion
  • Hallucinations and/or delirium
  • Vision problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle weakness and/or impaired motor skills
  • Slowed or irregular breathing
  • Faint pulse
  • Unconsciousness