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Xanax Addiction Signs, Symptoms, and Side Effects

by | Published on Oct 6, 2021 | Benzodiazepine Addiction, Drug Addiction

woman displaying xanax addiction signs

Xanax is one of the most popular benzodiazepines – it’s also one of the most potent ones. Used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and panic disorders, Xanax is a short-acting benzo with a high potential for abuse. Because of how it works, Xanax is only recommended for short-term use. Otherwise, people are more likely to abuse it. Recognizing Xanax addiction signs in a loved one can be challenging at first. But it can help you prevent a severe addiction down the line. 

Xanax Addiction Symptoms

As a sedative, Xanax shares many addiction signs and symptoms with other benzodiazepines, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Light-headedness
  • Sluggishness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Vertigo
  • Loss of coordination
  • Weakness

Despite being one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States, Xanax is frequently abused due to its intense effects. People who abuse Xanax will show signs of extreme tiredness, lacking their usual energy to engage with their surroundings. 

In addition, Xanax is often abused with other drugs, primarily opioids and alcohol. Mixing Xanax with other substances can trigger dangerous side effects, including coma and even death

Physical Symptoms of Xanax Abuse

The most common physical symptom of Xanax abuse is physical dependence that could turn into an addiction. This is a natural process. The body becomes used to the drug over time. Whenever someone tries to quit using the rug, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms. 

Physical signs can be uncomfortable and scary. They might include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coma 
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tingling sensations

Psychological Symptoms of Xanax Abuse

People who abuse Xanax are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to lower their dose or quit. This is particularly true for patients who started taking Xanax to treat psychological symptoms such as insomnia or panic attacks. These symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal ideation 

Warning Signs of Xanax Abuse

When someone is abusing Xanax, there will be many noticeable changes in their behaviors. It’s easy to figure out if someone is addicted to Xanax by noticing the behavioral signs they exhibit. While these might vary from person to person, they often include:

  • Engaging in risky behavior to buy Xanax
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, like driving under the influence
  • Maintaining stashes of Xanax
  • Using more drugs than prescribed
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions around Xanax
  • Financial difficulties
  • Doctor and prescription shopping to maintain levels of Xanax
  • Secrecy
  • Denial 
  • Relationship problems

Keep in mind. There’s a significant difference between Xanax abuse and addiction. Someone who abuses Xanax is likely to experiment with the drug at parties or events. They might combine the drug with alcohol or other substances to achieve the infamous buzz.

Generally, these people can quit the drug without experiencing major withdrawal symptoms. They still have control over their lives and Xanax use. 

On the other hand, someone with an addiction will feel they need the drug to function normally. They are no longer in control of their lives or drug use. They experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms that make it impossible to abstain whenever they try to quit the drug. 

Long-term Effects of Xanax Abuse and Addiction

Although Xanax can be highly effective for treating anxiety disorders, long-term abuse can be dangerous. Since most people abuse Xanax with other drugs, they tend to increase their risks. For example, mixing Xanax and alcohol can lead to respiratory failure and coma. Because both are central nervous system depressants, the combination can have severe side effects. 

Prolonged Xanax abuse can cause serious side effects, including addiction. Common long-term side effects of Xanax abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Aggression
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Psychosis 

Take Our “Am I Addicted to Xanax?” Self-Assessment

If you’re unsure whether you or a loved one is addicted to Xanax, take our free self-assessment quiz below. The evaluation consists of yes or no questions that serve as resources to assess the severity of a substance use disorder. The test is confidential, free, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. This isn’t intended to replace medical advice or seek help from a drug rehab treatment facility.

How Can I Help a Loved One With Xanax Addiction?

Most people with an addiction are unaware of their problem, mainly because they become dependent on the drug. It’s essential to approach the subject carefully and with concern rather than confrontation. 

Xanax can trigger aggression, agitation, and rage in the user, so make sure to confront them in a calm environment. 

It may be best to reach out to a professional to schedule an addiction intervention. A professional can help guide you in the process of discussing rehab options. They can also be a fresh perspective, particularly when addiction has strained your relationship already.

We recommend you read our ‘How to Stage an Intervention’ guide to learn more about the process. This guide is intended for family members who want to learn more about mental health and substance abuse.

Addiction Treatment

Once someone decides to seek help for their Xanax addiction, they must seek professional help. Quitting Xanax and other sedatives cold turkey can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including respiratory depression. 

The best way to start is with a medically supervised detox program that incorporates medication-assisted treatment to deal with withdrawal symptoms. Here, a team of professionals will decide on a tapering schedule to slowly wean the individual off the drug. 

Those with moderate to severe addiction will benefit from continuing their addiction treatment process. In most cases, an inpatient program or residential program will be the best option. People with mild Xanax abuse problems can still find addiction help with outpatient programs or intensive outpatient programs. These latter ones are designed for people who have a greater support system at home and can better control their cravings. 

Nonetheless, at Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe that no two treatments should be the same. Our rehab programs are 100% individualized and personalized to meet your unique needs. Call our admissions team at 866-308-2090 today to schedule your first tour and addiction assessment. 

Lighthouse Editorial Team

Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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