Drug and Alcohol - Addiction Recovery

Xanax Abuse & Addiction: 8 Major Signs (and How They're Treated)

Xanax abuse is a common form of prescription drug abuse. Benzo addiction is also treatable at an addiction center. Learn more in our blog.

Xanax Abuse & Addiction: 8 Major Signs (and How They're Treated)

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

January 17, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Xanax, a type of benzodiazepine, is a highly sedative medication that slows down brain activity. It is a commonly used medication for treating depression, panic disorder and anxiety. In addition, the drug relaxes the muscles and reduces restlessness.

Long-term consumption of this anti-anxiety medication leads to the development of Xanax addiction. Moreover, this form of prescription drug abuse affects the brain and the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairment. Though the short-term usage of the medication proves effective, the long-term usage of this addictive drug can prove fatal.

Let’s see the signs of Xanax addiction and the methods of treating Xanax abuse.

What are the Signs of Xanax Addiction?

As Xanax is a short and fast-acting benzodiazepine, it gets metabolized by the body very quickly. Hence, the body and brain get severely impacted by a single dosage of it. This is the reason that the body develops a physical dependence on the drug with prolonged use.

Here are the signs an individual who is addicted to Xanax will exhibit after chronic usage of the addictive substance.

Intense Cravings

An individual who is addicted to Xanax is likely to have a persistent and irresistible urge to consume the drug. They spend a considerable amount of their time using and acquiring the drug. Without the drug, they face an inability to perform regular activities.

This intense desire results in drug craving, which gets stronger as one keeps consuming it, making it difficult to stop using benzos.

Signs of Drug Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia indicates the items or associations that are generally used by individuals to enable drug usage. Recognizing the Xanax accessories and how these are used will help to identify signs of Xanax addiction. Some of the drug paraphernalia are as follows:

  • Razor blades

  • Rolled papers

  • Empty pill bottles

  • Straws or paper tubes

  • Razorblades or credit cards

  • Tubes of glue, nozzles, etc.

The availability of these items and objects related to Xanax addiction will help one note that his or her loved one is struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

Noticeable Behavioral Changes

As Xanax takes control over the behavior and thought processes of individuals, it is very likely for them to exhibit abrupt social and behavioral change. Someone with a Xanax addiction will show erratic mood swings. Individuals also start abandoning responsibilities related to their workplace or family.

Their addiction is often marked by poor performance at work or school.

Here are some of the behavioral symptoms that point toward Xanax addiction.

  • Attempting to steal Xanax that is prescribed to other individuals

  • Lack of focus at work or during daily activities

  • Poor sexual drive

  • Behave secretively

  • Emphasizing Xanax procurement and usage over professional or personal liabilities

Physical Signs of Xanax Addiction

  • Severe headaches

  • Muscle spasms

  • Seizures and convulsions

  • Hyperventilation

  • Tremors

  • Insomnia

  • Faster heart rate

  • Profuse sweating

  • Poor coordination

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Dizziness

  • Dry mouth

  • Slurred speech

  • Heart palpitation or tachycardia

  • Sore and stiff muscles

Increased menstrual bleeding, excessive menstrual cramping, and breast tenderness are some common symptoms among women.

Being in Denial of Negative Consequences

Another major sign that is indicative of Xanax addiction is that the individuals suffering from it are generally in denial. During the confrontation, they are likely to become defensive and aggressive. It is expected that they do not realize that they have fallen prey to Xanax addiction.

The first step one can take to come out of Xanax addiction is to come to terms with the fact that one needs help to fight the addiction.

Psychological Signs

Panic attacks, together with worsened depression and mood swings, are prevalent psychological signs of Xanax addiction. Individuals suffering from Xanax use disorder will also show the following symptoms:

  • Depression

  • Hallucinations

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Delirium

  • A distorted perspective of reality

  • Heightened sensation

  • Paranoia and fear

  • Panic attacks

  • Lower concentration

  • Restlessness

  • Lack of inhibition

  • Confusion

  • Lethargy

  • Manic moods

  • Tiredness and irritability

  • Lack of enthusiasm

Xanax consumption also impairs one's driving capability, which leads to an increased risk of accidents.

Cognitive Impairment and Withdrawn Socially

Prolonged Xanax abuse leads to short-term memory loss and cognitive impairment. This is the reason why people suffer from mood swings and personality changes. Such personality changes affect personal relationships. The thought procedure of an individual with drug addiction revolves around the drug, making them emotionally and physically unavailable.

It is also widespread among individuals with Xanax addiction to isolate themselves from family, friends, and society. Being secretive or keeping in touch with other Xanax users are some other symptoms.

Legal and Financial Troubles

Individuals tend to take legal hassles when they become addicted to Xanax and go to extreme measures for procuring the drug. For instance, individuals can resort to illegal ways to acquire the medicine which can put them in legal turmoil. They may even start to face financial hardships.

In the process of obtaining the drug in an illegal way, they might end up straining their finances. In addition, individuals addicted to Xanax undertake risks to acquire the drug illicitly. They may even collect prescriptions of other users, to help them acquire Xanax from medical stores.

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Xanax Addiction?

Another very notable sign of Xanax addiction is that people undergo Xanax withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. As Xanax is a high-potency drug, it makes the withdrawal process challenging for the patients.

Some common symptoms that Xanax abusers face during withdrawal are as under.

  • Insomnia

  • Restlessness and anxiety

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Mood changes

  • Anxiety

  • Panic attacks

  • Severe headaches

  • Loss of appetite

  • Disrupted sleeping patterns

  • Hypersensitivity towards sound, light or touch

  • Hyperventilation

  • Psychosis

  • Seizures

  • Abnormal sensation

  • Muscle spasms

Xanax withdrawal symptoms are extremely unpleasant and can also prove to be complicated and life-threatening if not performed under the supervision of medical professionals in closely monitored environments.

There are certain factors that make the withdrawal period highly challenging for patients.

Xanax withdrawal seizures are very common in individuals undergoing an unsupervised Xanax detox process. Even pregnant women are at increased risk of experiencing seizures.

Pre-existing mental health conditions like panic disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and more will make it challenging for individuals to tide over the withdrawal symptoms.

It has been hypothesized that individuals who already have mental issues are likely to show mental problems once they have cut down on the usage of Xanax during the initial stages of detox treatment.

The symptoms can be dangerous for older adults whose cognitive abilities have declined over time.

Acute benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can surface with continuous usage of several benzodiazepines and higher dosages. The severity of the symptoms also depends on the time span for which one has been using the drug. Medical monitoring is a must to avoid the severe health complications that one can face during the withdrawal process.

The most effective way to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms of Xanax is to opt for medicine tapering.

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline: An Estimation

The time span for which the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal last ranges from weeks to several months. In some acute cases, individuals may go through withdrawal symptoms for years.

Early Withdrawal Symptoms

Apparent symptoms that prevail in the initial days of ceasing the usage of the drug include anxiety, headache, restlessness, troubled sleeping, etc.

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms of Xanax addiction scale up the trajectory in this phase. Individuals start undergoing symptoms like aggression, confusion, high blood pressure, hallucination, tremors, nausea, and more. Acute withdrawal symptoms are often followed by a rebound.

The rebound effect is basically the recurrence of Xanax addiction symptoms. At this stage, a few symptoms can get worse and some symptoms like anxiety and insomnia persist.

Late Withdrawal

Gradually individuals can finally start to get back to normalcy. With time the physical symptoms associated with Xanax withdrawal become bearable. However, the pace of withdrawal can fluctuate. Moreover, gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms can persist.

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Treatment Options for Xanax Addiction

Several Xanax addiction treatment options are available to help one come out of Xanax addiction and lead a healthy life. Some are as follows:

Xanax Detox

Detoxification is a crucial step towards recovery from Xanax addiction that ensures that the patient has achieved sobriety. In the detoxification process, the active form of Xanax is eliminated from the body, helping the body function without the substance. Xanax detoxification includes close evaluation and assessment of the patient's physical and mental condition, stabilizing patients and preparing them for further treatment.

The symptoms that individuals experience during detoxification and withdrawal are known as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Though the detoxification process and associated withdrawal symptoms can seem challenging, it ensures long-term healing and steady recovery.

Medication Tapering

The safest and most effective way to treat Xanax addiction is a medically supervised tapering program. Medication tapering indicates the usage of a progressively smaller dose of Xanax than withdrawing the drug suddenly. As the long-term usage of Xanax creates a level of tolerance in the abuser’s body, withdrawing it all at once will often result in severe withdrawal symptoms.

As medical professionals reduce the dosage of Xanax in small concentrations, the body gets time to adapt to this change. Hence, tapering proves effective in making the treatment process easy.

Behavioral Therapy and Counseling

Behavior counseling proves beneficial in helping Xanax addiction. It is considered to be the most successful treatment modality in treating substance use disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It is an effective treatment option for Xanax addiction. It provides patients with motivation and encourages them to replace their negative thought patterns with positive ones.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) first focuses on the root cause of Xanax addiction. Then it bestows patients with coping mechanisms, helping them to manage stress and combat Xanax addiction.

Overcoming Xanax addiction becomes possible with robust therapy and support groups. Group therapies focus on endowing patients with social support and proper reinforcement, helping them during the recovery process. Such forms of therapy help in developing resolution skills.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment is another effective way to cure substance use disorders (SUD). It involves the usage of approved medication and if further backed by counseling and behavioral therapies gives excellent results. Here are some of the medications that are often used in Xanax addiction treatment procedures.

  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone helps to reduce cravings and lowers the sensation of euphoria that is related to Substance Use Disorder.

  • Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine proves effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms.

In addition, switching to long-acting benzodiazepines like diazepam, chlordiazepoxide or clonazepam stabilizes patients, helping them cope with the withdrawal symptoms. In addition, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and beta-blockers prove effective in treating withdrawal symptoms.

Even flumazenil helps ease the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. In addition, doctors often use Valium, a long-acting benzodiazepine, to help patients.

Xanax is effective in treating several psychological conditions but can prove fatal if consumed in higher than the prescribed dosages. As it is highly addictive in nature, one must consume it consciously and under the supervision of a doctor to prevent falling into the vicious trap of Xanax addiction. In case one has started to develop an addiction to this addictive substance, one must reach out for professional treatment immediately.

Get Effective Xanax Addiction Treatment From The Forge Recovery Center

Reach out to The Forge Recovery Center to receive comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for Xanax addiction. We ensure the highest quality care to patients by rolling out an individualized treatment plan. In addition, we focus on developing a sense of community. Our treatment modalities include diverse treatment options like dual diagnosis, DBT, EMDR, MAT, and more.

For comprehensive treatment for Xanax addiction, contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risk factors associated when Xanax is combined with other substances?

Xanax is often combined with other addictive substances like opioids and alcohol to experience enhanced intoxication. Individuals can suffer from memory loss, disorientation, poor coordination, and respiratory and cardiac issues resulting in unconsciousness and death.

Who is at risk of Xanax addiction?

Any individual prone to Xanax use for a long duration will become addicted to it. However, individuals with a history of Substance Use Disorder or who are already suffering from paranoia, depression, phobia, insomnia, anxiety, and mood instability are at higher risk.

When is a patient at risk of experiencing Xanax withdrawal seizures?

Patients can experience Xanax withdrawal seizures at any time during treatment or recovery but mostly during the acute withdrawal stage when the symptoms aggravate.

How does Xanax work?

Xanax falls in the category of central nervous system depressants or sedatives. It increases the level of GABA (Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid), slowing down the brain and providing a soothing effect to effectively treat panic and anxiety disorders.

How much Xanax causes severe withdrawal symptoms?

Severe Xanax withdrawal symptoms surface when one consumes a higher dose of the drug or upon prolonged use.

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