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Signs of Xanax Abuse and Addiction

Dr. Anna Pickering

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anna Pickering

April 3, 2019

Xanax is one of the most prescribed drugs within its class in the US, making it one of the most misused and abused drugs today. If you or someone you love uses Xanax, it is important to watch for the following signs of abuse and addiction.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax, under the generic name Alprazolam, is within the drug class of benzodiazepines. This is a family of depressant medications that affect the central nervous system and creates a calming effect through their sedative properties.

Its primary use is for treating anxiety and panic disorders; according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it is approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. It is commonly prescribed in two ways; the first being daily use to treat these concerns and the second on an as needed basis.

The drug’s calming properties derive from alprazolam’s activation of inhibitory receptors in the brain. This limits the excessive excitement within the brain that is often manifested by anxiety. Xanax works in conjunction with and enhances the effects of GABA, a naturally occurring amino acid and neurotransmitter that is responsible for inhibiting nerve transmission. This interaction creates the calming effect.

The Prescription Rate Of Xanax

Xanax is the most widely prescribed benzodiazepine and due to this prevalence, it is also the most widely abused. According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, from 2004-2009, the number of visits to a hospital emergency department due to alprazolam increased by 148.3 percent.

Street slang for the drug includes the terms: bars, planks, or zanies. Some users combine it with other downers, such as opiates and alcohol, to increase the desired sensation. According to the 2010 statistics collected through the Drug Abuse Warning Network of the 125,000 ER visits that revolved around Xanax abuse, nearly 96,000 of them involved another substance.

Any recreational or non- prescribed used can be dangerous and combining it with other substances can increase the risk factor for overdose and death even more.

While Xanax is a useful tool for managing mental health concerns, if taken in progressively large amounts, it can become addictive. This substance abuse can wreak havoc on your body, mind, and life.

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Signs Someone May Suffer From Xanax Abuse Or Addiction

As with any substance abuse or addiction, there are certain hallmarks that are indicative of an underlying problem and these include: a physical dependence on the drug; withdrawal symptoms upon decreased or discontinued use; and an increase in the amount of drug that is required to achieve the desired feeling.

The signs and symptoms may vary depending on the individual’s current level of dependence, the length of their addiction, the amount they consume, their genetic makeup, and even the person’s gender. One thing is certain — Xanax abuse and addiction manifest its symptoms mentally, physically, and physiologically. The most prevalent signs and symptoms include:

Mental Imbalance

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness
  • Mood swings, including mania
  • Rage or agitation

Physical Symptoms

  • Loss of energy, excessive tiredness, struggling with an inability to focus
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Slurred speech
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness or dizziness, often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting
  • Decreased libido
  • Heart palpitations or Tachycardia
  • Respiratory depression

Physiological Symptoms

  • Disorientation and confusion that may be accompanied by memory deficits
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions
  • Decreased ability to focus or concentrate which may be marked by non-cohesive thought patterns

Lastly, there are many behavioral symptoms that can be indicative of a problem. These include: doctor shopping or lying about a lost script; stealing, borrowing, or hiding pills; or lying about the amount they are taking.

Social aspects suffer as well as a person may become more apathetic to previously enjoyed activities: relationships may become stained and educational, vocational or occupational related endeavors may suffer or fall to the wayside. Sadly, a person may become embroiled in financial or legal concerns.

Seek Help Today For Xanax Abuse

This misuse and abuse constitutes great risk to the individual. Serious health risks, including death may result if this or other substance abuse disorders aren’t treated. If you suspect someone you love of misusing Xanax or if you suffer from abusing it, please reach out to us today at Our trained staff can assist you in choosing a program that is right for you.

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