Xanax, which is a brand-name version of alprazolam, reduces anxiety, making it useful for treating generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Although Xanax is a legitimate medication, it causes certain changes in the brain that make some individuals more likely to become addicted. Once a Xanax addiction develops, it can cause some concerning physical and psychological symptoms.
What Is a Xanax Addiction?
The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as a disease that causes someone to continue using a substance even when doing so is harmful in some way. Therefore, Xanax addiction develops when someone feels compelled to keep taking Xanax even though using the substance is causing physical, psychological, financial or social harm. If you’re addicted to Xanax, you may keep taking it even if you can’t afford to pay for it, your substance use is hurting your relationships or even if your addiction has caused serious legal consequences, such as an arrest or conviction for a drug-related crime.
Scientists don’t know the exact mechanism of action (biochemical process that causes a drug to have certain effects) that causes Xanax to relieve anxiety, but they do know it binds to benzodiazepine receptors known as BNZ-1 and BNZ-2. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, BNZ-1 affects anxiety levels, and BNZ-2 is involved in muscle relaxation and motor coordination. Therefore, the potential side effects of Xanax include poor motor coordination, dizziness, light-headedness and drowsiness.
Because Xanax relieves anxiety, you’re likely to feel calmer and more in control after using it. People addicted to Xanax chase that calm feeling, compelling them to continue using the drug even when it’s harmful to do so. If you have a Xanax addiction, you may do anything necessary to escape your Xanax cravings and feel like you have more control over your life.
Tolerance vs Addiction
Over time, you may develop a tolerance to Xanax, which means it takes higher doses of the drug to experience the same desirable side effects. As a result, some users may start taking Xanax more frequently or take larger doses of Xanax.
Just because someone has developed a tolerance to Xanax doesn’t mean they have a Xanax addiction, however. Substance use turns into addiction when the individual continues using the drug even after experiencing some type of harm.
The following criteria are used to determine if a tolerance to Xanax has progressed to Xanax addiction:
- The individual craves Xanax.
- The individual spends much of their time looking for a way to get Xanax, whether that means buying it on the street or stealing it from a family member.
- The person wants to stop using Xanax but has to keep taking it to reduce the cravings.
- Despite experiencing negative consequences, the person continues taking Xanax.
Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Work and School Performance
Some of the most common Xanax addiction signs are behavioral in nature. For adults, addiction may make it difficult to attend college classes regularly or hold down a job. Addicted individuals who remain employed may have serious performance issues at work, such as calling in sick more often than usual, leaving work early or showing up late.
Users enrolled in school may cut classes, stop completing their assignments or receive poor grades on tests and quizzes. If you remain in school, you may have trouble paying attention in class or may stop taking notes or participating in class discussions.
In some cases, a sudden change in an individual’s financial situation may indicate that the person has developed a Xanax addiction. Users who spend most of their money on Xanax may have trouble covering their monthly expenses, causing them to ask to borrow money from friends and family members.
An individual addicted to Xanax may also take out multiple personal loans or payday loans, making it even more difficult to manage their finances. In some cases, users turn to shoplift and theft because they don’t have enough money to continue using Xanax while also meeting their financial obligations.
Addiction is classified as a family disease, which means the behavior of an addict affects the entire family, not just the person using the drug. As a result, people struggling with Xanax addiction may have fights with their family members over missing money or stolen medications.
Loved ones may also become frustrated when a person addicted to Xanax can’t be relied on to take care of their children, keep the house clean or pitch in with household chores. The strain can cause lifelong friendships to come to an end, leaving the addicted individual more isolated than ever.
Physical and Psychological Symptoms
If you’re addicted to Xanax, you may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech
- Memory changes
- Reduced cognitive function
Long-Term Effects of Xanax
Long-term use of Xanax can have serious physical, mental, social and financial consequences. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that long-term use of benzodiazepines can lead to reduced cognitive function that does not improve within three months of stopping the drug.
Prolonged use of Xanax may also cause ataxia, a condition that causes stumbling, slurred speech and problems with motor coordination. Additionally, Xanax use increases the amount of time it takes for an individual to respond to any type of stimulus. If you drive while under the influence of Xanax, slowed reaction times increase the risk that you will be involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Sudden Withdrawal From Xanax
Sudden withdrawal from Xanax or another benzodiazepine sometimes causes a condition known as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. In an article published in the journal Addiction, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is described as an uncomfortable, possibly life-threatening condition that may cause panic attacks, increased anxiety, tremors, irritability and sleep disturbances.
In rare cases, a benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome may lead to seizures or psychosis. Therefore, it’s important to seek professional help before attempting to quit “cold turkey.” Comprehensive Xanax addiction treatment can help you detox safely and start the recovery process.
If you have Xanax cravings or have experienced some type of harm due to your use of Xanax, don’t be afraid to seek help. Our compassionate team of treatment professionals is standing by to help you get started on the road to recovery. Break free from Xanax addiction by calling FHE Health at (833) 596-3502.