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Xanax Addiction: Signs, Effects and Help

Last Updated: November 29, 2023

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In case of an immediate emergency, dial 911. If you seek information on substance abuse treatment and it’s not an emergency, reach out to our 24/7 Xanax Helpline for admissions at 855-416-2466.

Benzodiazepines like Xanax (alprazolam) serve various medical purposes but can easily lead to misuse, dependence, and addiction. In 2018, over 20 million Xanax prescriptions were issued in the U.S., making it one of the most commonly prescribed anxiety medications. Unfortunately, a sdependingat more than 17% of individuals with benzodiazepine prescriptions misuse these drugs.

Given the extensive use and misuse of Xanax, Xanax addiction is a significant concern. However, professional addiction treatment programs offer hope and assistance.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is classified as a benzodiazepine, a type of medication that interacts with GABA receptors in the brain. These receptors induce a sensation of relaxation, playing a crucial role in calming the body. Xanax is often prescribed to alleviate anxiety by increasing activation of  GABA receptors and inducing relaxation.

Street Names for Xanax

Xanax, a potentially addictive substance, can only be legally obtained with a prescription. However, individuals addicted to Xanax may resort to illicit means to acquire it.

As an illicit substance, Xanax goes by several street names among those who sell or use it illegally. Some of these street names include:

  • Bars
  • Benzos
  • Blue Footballs
  • Bricks
  • Upjohn
  • Zanbars
  • Z-Bars

Xanax Dosages

Xanax is available in several forms and dosages, prescribed based on individual needs and administration preferences.

Xanax can be in solid tablet or orally disintegrating tablet form, with doses ranging from 0.25 mg to 2 mg. Extended-release variants gradually release the drug over several hours, with dosages ranging from 0.5 mg to 3 mg. Xanax can also be a liquid solution, containing 5 mg per teaspoon.

What Does Xanax Look Like?

Xanax can have a wide range of appearances varying based on the specific manufacturer. Manufacturers will change the appearance based on the Xanax’s dosage and immediate-release or extended-release form.

Because Xanax can vary significantly in appearance, it is advisable to only take Xanax that has been prescribed to you and verified to be Xanax. It is also possible to use a pill identifier to confirm if a particular pill is Xanax. However, you should never take a drug if you’re not sure where it came from. Taking an unidentified drug can be extremely risky, as street drugs may be disguised to resemble Xanax. When obtaining medication outside of a pharmacy, there is a risk of unknowingly consuming a more dangerous substance.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Xanax has a half-life of 11.2 hours, indicating that it takes 11.2 hours for half of the Xanax in an average person’s bloodstream to diminish. It requires multiple half-lives to eliminate Xanax from the system entirely.

The duration of Xanax’s presence in the system varies among individuals due to factors like gender, age, weight, health, and other medications. Extended-release Xanax remains in the bloodstream longer as it slowly raises Xanax levels over several hours.

While a single Xanax dose’s effects wear off within hours, it can be detectable in urine for several days and in hair for up to 90 days.

Xanax Addiction

Xanax, despite its therapeutic uses, is susceptible to misuse. Xanax triggers the release of endorphins, chemicals associated with rewarding behavior reinforcement, in the brain. Artificially releasing endorphins through chemical means can lead to brain changes that promote continued behavior, contributing to Xanax addiction.

Xanax addiction carries significant risks, including the potential for a fatal overdose due to excessive use. Overuse of Xanax can cause excessive relaxation, leading to inadequate breathing that results in brain damage or death.

In addition to the dangers of Xanax use, withdrawal from the drug can result in severe symptoms, including seizures. Xanax withdrawal is particularly perilous because it diminishes the brain’s ability to suppress seizures, which can cause lasting brain damage or result in death.

Xanax Addiction Symptoms

Xanax addiction manifests through general signs of addiction and symptoms. Some of these are specific to Xanax use. However, many of these are general signs of addiction.

Signs of addiction typically entail behavioral changes and may encompass:

  • Constant preoccupation with Xanax
  • Declining performance at work, school, or home
  • Alterations in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Unexplained behavioral changes
  • Neglect of appearance, hygiene, or responsibilities
  • Secretive or deceptive behaviors
  • Legal or financial issues 

Symptoms of Xanax use may include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Profound fatigue or excessive sleepiness
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constricted pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Cognitive changes
  • Difficulty communicating

Xanax use may also lead to withdrawal symptoms like irritability, flu-like manifestations, and seizures.

Overdosing on Xanax can occur with excessive use, resulting in extreme fatigue and compromised breathing. A suspected Xanax overdose necessitates an immediate call to 911.

Xanax and Alcohol

Xanax acts on GABA receptors, which are also the class of receptors that are affected by alcohol, another commonly abused substance. Although Xanax and alcohol have some differences in their influence on GABA receptors, some similarities render the combination perilous. Each can potentiate the effects of the other, slowing the body’s ability to metabolize both substances. This elevates the risk of overdose and other severe health issues.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Xanax addiction doesn’t have to dictate your life. Various treatment options are available to help individuals overcome Xanax addiction. Professional Xanax addiction treatment facilities offer detoxification to remove the drug from your system safely. Following detox, rehabilitation programs teach individuals how to lead healthier lives free from Xanax.

The Recovery Village Atlanta Drug and Alcohol Rehab boasts extensive experience in assisting those grappling with Xanax addiction in achieving lasting sobriety. If you or a loved one is ready to take the next step toward recovery, reach out to us today to explore treatment programs tailored to your needs.

Sources

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American Psychiatric Association. “Study Finds Increasing Use, and Misuse, of Benzodiazepines.” December 17, 2018. Accessed November 17, 2023.

Olsen, Richard W.; DeLorey, Timothy M. “GABA Receptor Physiology and Pharmacology.” Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects, 1999. Accessed November 17, 2023.

Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection. “Alprazolam.” 2021. Accessed November 17, 2023.

Medscape. “Alprazolam (Rx).” 2021. Accessed November 17, 2023.

Drugs.com. “Pill Identifier.” 2021. Accessed November 17, 2023.

Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. “XANAX.” June 2011. Accessed November 17, 2023.

Haldeman-Englert, Chad; Foley, Maryann; Turley, Raymond. “Benzodiazepines (Urine).” University of Rochester Medical Center, 2021. Accessed November 17, 2023.

O’Malley, Gerald; O’Malley, Rika. “Anxiolytics and Sedatives.” Merck Manuals, May 2020. Accessed November 17, 2023.

Hallare, Jericho & Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls. June 20, 2023. Accessed November 22, 2023.