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5 Signs Your Loved One Is Abusing Xanax

Joseph Sitarik, DO

Medically reviewed by

Joseph Sitarik, DO

February 28, 2019

Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine that directly affects the central nervous system and inhibits brain activity creating a tranquil feeling of calm and pleasure. Generally considered very addictive, spotting signs of Xanax abuse is paramount to seeking treatment and avoiding dependence.

1. Changes In Behavior

If you’re in a relationship with someone taking Xanax, or other benzodiazepines, then take note of subtle changes in their behavior. Changes in behavior may include tiredness and lethargy, or an overall lack of energy and enthusiasm. Sluggishness, lazing around, and general inactivity may indicate Xanax abuse. This may ring especially true if your loved one is normally energetic and outgoing.

Sudden irritability is also a key sign of Xanax abuse. This common side effect of the drug is likely to cause your loved one to be bad-tempered and easily annoyed. They may get angry over something silly or seem stressed over routine, everyday things.

Memory loss is another sign of Xanax abuse. Loved ones often see memory lapses in the impaired person. They may completely forget events or conversations while impaired, even the following day.

Another behavior change to look for is talkativeness. Since Xanax reduces anxiety and panic, abusing the drug creates a euphoria that is likely to lead to excessive talking. Just ask yourself, is this normal behavior for my loved one?

2. Physical Signs Of Abuse

Besides changes in behavior, physical signs of abuse will show when taking Xanax more than a doctor recommends. Physical signs may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Light-headedness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased salivation
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

There is also the danger of real physical pain for your loved one if they abruptly stop taking the drug or go “cold turkey.” Withdrawal symptoms might include trembling, muscle pain and stiffness, and heart palpitations. Listen close, and see if they complain about any of the above symptoms.

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3. Increase In Health Risks

Abusing Xanax can have serious implications on your loved one’s health. Common health issues resulting in Xanax abuse include changes in appetite and weight. A loss of appetite or an abrupt change in weight can throw their body’s essential functions out of whack, potentially resulting in poor health and well-being.

More serious side effects of Xanax abuse include shortness of breath, seizures, hallucinating, and skin rash. If any of these symptoms are perceived, contact your doctor immediately. Although these symptoms are uncommon, it is imperative to understand these signs in order to take action and get your loved one help before it’s too late.

4. Mixing With Alcohol

Medical professionals strongly recommend not mixing alcohol with Xanax. Yet, time and time again people are mixing the two to achieve a desired high. This is a major sign of abuse. A person will mix Xanax and alcohol in order to enhance the euphoria of both substances, thus creating a very potent cocktail. If they feel the desire to add alcohol to increase the effects, then they have likely built up a tolerance, another devastating aspect of abuse.

There is an enormous health risk when mixing the two, and if you notice your loved one doing this, you should seek help immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s one drink, two drinks, or five drinks, alcohol and Xanax should never be mixed because of the dangerous chemical interaction the two substances inflict on the brain.

5. Turning To The Streets (No Prescription)

Xanax is one of the leading prescription medications for anxiety in the United States. However, your loved one’s doctor may decrease the dose gradually overtime; the ultimate goal being to no longer prescribe it. Due to the drug’s habit-forming qualities, prescriptions may be refilled only a limited number of times. If addicted to Xanax, your loved one may turn to the streets once their refills run out.

Common street names for Xanax include bars, xanies, planks, or footballs. Buying Xanax off the streets means they are likely taking a higher dosage than normal, the drug may be laced with something like Fentanyl (which can be deadly), and the risk of overdose and death increase exponentially. Be on the lookout for behavior that would suggest they’re buying drugs on the streets.

Take Action – Call For Help

If you’ve noticed any of the above signs of Xanax abuse in your loved one, seek help immediately. Xanax, when taken as recommended, can be very useful for someone with anxiety and panic attacks. But, this treatment comes with a serious risk of addiction and abuse. You need to act if you suspect a loved one is abusing Xanax. The first step is to get on the phone and voice your concerns. Contact a treatment specialist today to begin your loved one’s journey to recovery.

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