xanax addiction

Over 13.5 million American adults currently have a prescription for benzodiazepines such as Xanax. Though originally prescribed to treat anxiety, the ugly truth is that Xanax can quickly become incredibly addictive. 

Are you concerned about how to know if someone is on Xanax? Before you confront them, it’s important to understand the potential Xanax addiction signs that someone is abusing Xanax. This article is here to help you to do just that. We’ll also tell you more about how Xanax works, why it’s so addictive, and where you can get help.

What Is Xanax?

Before we get into the Xanax addiction signs, let’s first define what it is and understand what it’s used for. Xanax is a benzodiazepine, or “benzo” for short. It is the brand name of a drug called alprazolam. 

When used correctly, it can greatly alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and even panic disorder. Xanax is considered potent benzo, and it’s taken as an extended-release capsule or a tablet. A Xanax addiction can cause serious consequences that can affect all aspects of a person’s life. 

Benzos impact an individual’s brain and central nervous system, all to create a calm feeling. It does this process by increasing the effects of GABA, a chemical found in our bodies naturally. Xanax is the most prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States and it’s prescribed at a much higher rate than similar drugs such as Klonopin and Ativan. 

Xanax: Potential for Abuse

This drug has the absolute potential for addiction and abuse. Chances are that individuals wonder what Xanax addiction signs to look for in a person. Because benzodiazepines are addictive, they aren’t recommended for long-term use. Your brain already produces a natural chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA for short. 

An imbalance in or a lack of the proper amount of the GABA chemicals is what is thought to create these intense feelings of anxiety and panic. Xanax improves communication between neurotransmitters and the rest of the brain. It also binds onto these receptors, balancing out and strengthening your GABA chemicals. 

“Despite being the most prescribed psychiatric drug in the United States, Xanax is frequently abused due to its short-acting, intense effects.” When an individual abuses Xanax, they will appear extremely tired and lack the usual motivation and energy to engage with friends and family. The Xanax abuser might also begin to lose interest in their normal daily activities. 

“Even when I forced myself to go out, I still felt so alone. It’s incredible how lonely the road of addiction can be, especially when you’re surrounded by people who love you. Addicts are always alone on the inside, but perhaps the loneliest part of all is feeling like the drugs are your only friends when your real friends are sitting at your side staring at you and wondering why you won’t say a word. It’s kind of hard to talk when you’re that far gone.”

-A former Benzo addict stated the following in Salon Magazine of 2015. 

How Addictive is Xanax?

Xanax is abused often alongside other drugs, primarily alcohol and opioids. By combining Xanax with other substances can result in extremely serious side effects such as coma, death, or respiratory arrest. The symptoms of Xanax abuse will vary depending on each person and the combination of drugs combined. 

Due to Xanax being a sedative, there is a greater risk of machinery or automobile accidents due to decreased response time and alertness. If there is a large dose of Xanax consumed, the individual might undergo severe sedation that can last up to several days. This entire process has the power of putting the individual in extreme danger if they are sedated in a threatening environment. 

This is what creates that calming effect that Xanax is so well-known for. It also decreases the amount of overall neuron activity in the brain. Is it effective? Absolutely. 

Unfortunately, Xanax is also incredibly addictive

Your body gets used to — and even craves — this rush of natural “feel-good” chemicals very quickly. This means that just to get the same effects as you did on a lower dosage, you’ll need to take a higher dosage of Xanax more frequently. In some cases, it can take as little as a month to become addicted. 

Here’s what many people don’t realize. Xanax, along with other benzos, was never created as part of a long-term treatment plan. Instead, the goal was to provide desperate individuals with immediate relief while waiting for safer medications — and therapy — to help them. 

Of course, pharmaceutical companies make a huge profit off of someone’s addiction to Xanax. In some cases, doctors may even receive kickbacks for prescribing it. As a result, many people over prescribe Xanax, and quickly become addicted. 

Now, let’s take a look at some common Xanax addiction signs.

1. The Physical Signs

First of all, let’s talk about the top physical Xanax addiction signs and how to know if someone is on Xanax. Remember that not all of these signs and symptoms must be present for someone to have an addiction. Of course, just because someone displays a few of these symptoms also doesn’t mean they have a problem. 

That being said, if you notice certain physical symptoms keep cropping up, you may want to consider talking to the person you’re concerned about — or the other people close to them. 

They may frequently complain of the following physical Xanax addiction signs:

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headaches
  • Digestive issues
  • Vomiting frequently
  • Complain of continual bouts of nausea 
  • Have trouble walking straight 
  • Stagger, move more slowly than normal, or just stumble around

Other Physical Signs

  • A complete lack or of seriousness
  • A noticeable decrease in their coordination 
  • Complain of dry mouth, even though they stay hydrated
  • Be on the lookout for tremors and the shakes 

When it comes to the physical Xanax effects, the last physical sign could be an individual taking too much Xanax. It can also be a sign that the addict is going through Xanax withdrawal. This is especially common when it comes to addicts who enjoy snorting Xanax. This is serious, as someone who abuses Xanax is at a high risk of seizures and other neurological issues. 

2. A Change in Sleep Patterns

In addition to the physical Xanax addiction signs mentioned above, you should closely monitor the potential addict’s sleep cycle. Have you noticed that it’s drastically changed in the past few months? Perhaps they sleep for much longer than they usually do. 

They sleep through alarms, important meetings, and even work. Sometimes, they miss out on things you know they care about because they fell asleep without realizing it. They may also nod off throughout the day, or require naps. 

Of course, the opposite can also be a sign that someone is abusing Xanax. Maybe it seems like they barely sleep. In some cases, they seem to need less sleep than ever before. 

They’re up at all hours of the night — and they were never like this in the past. They seem tired and frequently complain of insomnia. But even if it seems like they want to sleep, the reality is that they just can’t seem to. They may even start hallucinating because of a lack of sleep. Or, when they can get some rest, they might frequently talk to you about graphic nightmares they have.

3. Social Isolation

It’s no secret that there’s a great deal of shame when it comes to addiction. 

You might get the sense that the addict is trying to hide their addiction from those around them, whether they want to protect themselves or you. You’ve also noticed a serious social withdrawal lately. They don’t come to hang out with you anymore. They barely return your texts or calls at all. 

When do you spend time with them? They seem like they’re not able to focus on what’s going on around them. They seem either spaced out or incredibly hyperactive — there’s not much of an in-between. You can tell this person is trying to isolate themselves intentionally. Maybe they’ve even “moved on” to a new group of friends that you don’t know much about, and no longer have time for you. 

One thing is for certain: they’re not acting like themselves. They don’t even want to take part in the activities or hobbies they love anymore. It seems like they’re just coasting through life — and you think Xanax might be to blame. 

If you’re in a romantic relationship with this person, you’ve realized that their sex drive has completely evaporated. They never seem to be “in the mood” anymore. Perhaps the opposite is true, and they’re dealing with an intense sex drive that you just can’t keep up with. Either way, the outlook isn’t good. 

4. A Drastic Change in Physical Appearance

In the past, the person you’re concerned about always took care of themselves physically. 

Sure, like everyone, they enjoy a good cheat day and sometimes fluctuate when it comes to weight. But lately? You’ve noticed a drastic change in their physical appearance. In some cases, you might also realize that the person you’re worried about has stopped taking care of their basic hygiene. 

It seems like they’ve stopped: 

  • Showering
  • Putting on makeup
  • Brushing their hair
  • Even taking care of their teeth

Whether they’ve gained or lost weight, it’s all happened incredibly quickly. You’ve also noticed a marked change in their diet in general. They eat poorly when they remember to even eat at all. It seems like they’re not interested in nutrient-rich foods. 

Instead, they eat whatever is available. You may also have noticed a serious increase or decrease in appetite and eating patterns. Maybe they seem like they’re binge eating once a day instead of enjoying three meals. 

5. An Increase in Depression/Talk of Self-Harm

One of the most devastating side effects of a Xanax addiction? It can cause the person with the addiction to feel extreme depression and anxiety. This is often due to the nature of the pills themselves, as well as the combination of the other factors we’ve mentioned here. 

When someone isolates themselves, mistreats friends and family members, and feels physically ill, chances are, something is up. You’ve also noticed pretty drastic mood changes. They can go from being hostile, angry, and even aggressive to the point that you’re worried for your safety and back to happy in a matter of hours. 

In some cases, they may even talk about how hopeless and worthless they feel. They could even express the desire to hurt themselves or end their life. You often wonder if they’ve already started to self-harm. This is the most serious sign of an addiction. It also points out the often-overlooked connection between Xanax addiction and mental illness as a whole. 

6. Financial Problems 

Xanax isn’t cheap — whether it’s obtained legally or illegally. At a certain point, you’ve realized that the potential addict’s financial situation has completely changed. Maybe they’ve stopped going to work. Perhaps they’ve started selling important possessions. Maybe you share a joint bank account, and you’ve realized that large amounts of funds are missing. 

When you confront the person about this, they may claim to not know what you’re talking about. In some cases, they may even ask you for money. They don’t tell you that they’re planning to spend it on Xanax, but you have your suspicions. Plus, it never seems to last them long when you do give it to them. They’re making up excuses and wild stories about why they need the money. 

At a certain point, you know they’re lying to you. Perhaps this addict lives with you. You hate to say it, but you suspect that they might be stealing from you to fund their habit. 

In some cases, you might realize that money is missing out of your wallet. You’ve noticed that valuables around the house keep disappearing. The addict might even leave the room to take calls — and you suspect they’re connecting with people who want to buy your things. 

7. Memory Issues

Another one of the most common Xanax addiction signs is increased confusion and a lack of focus. Additionally, you may start to notice that the person you’re worried about just can’t seem to keep track of anything anymore. It started small. Maybe they couldn’t remember where they placed an item. Perhaps they repeated themselves a few times throughout a conversation. 

Now, their memory issues seem more common — and more severe. It’s not just that they’ve lost their ability to concentrate on one thing at a time anymore. Now, they’re blanking on entire conversations you’ve had with them. It seems like they’re almost blacked out when you speak to them. They may try to lie and cover up their confusion, but they can’t hide it from you any longer. 

You know that they need help — and that they need it fast. The good news is that there is something you can do to get them the help they deserve. They just have to be willing to listen to you.

What Is The Difference Between Xanax Addiction And Abuse?

When there is recreational use of Xanax, typically the drug is abused for a specific event, such as a party. The individual might be tempted to combine Xanax with other drugs and alcohol to attain the desired buzz. Normally, these individuals can quit taking the drug without experiencing severe side effects. 

When individuals abuse Xanax recreationally, they still have some control over their drug use and their lives. It’s easier to detect when an individual has an addiction because they will need it to function regularly. Once they are no longer in control of their drug use, it can be viewed in all aspects of their life. 

What Are The Common Side Effects of Xanax Use?

If a doctor prescribes you to take Xanax, it’s still possible for negative side effects to occur. The common side effects aren’t necessarily always considered Xanax addiction signs of abuse, they might occur with any form of drug use. Regardless of the reason, someone might take Xanax, the effects typically start to occur within about an hour and last for at least six hours.

  • Lack of coordination 
  • Decreased libido 
  • Sluggishness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth 
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures 
  • Tremors
  • Nausea

If you are wondering if a person is engaging in Xanax abuse, the following common side effects will assist in determining if your theory is true. The more Xanax an individual engages in, the more likely they are to undergo Xanax addiction signs of abuse. The common Xanax addiction signs are more visible to individuals observing the person. 

It’s typical to notice the person struggling with Xanax addiction to portray an inability to form words properly and they may experience issues with cognition. When individuals are on Xanax, they normally sound similar to a person who is intoxicated due to their alcohol addiction. Both individuals will exhibit slurring. 

Behavioral Signs

  • Sleeping for a long period
  • Preferring to spend time alone
  • Stealing medications
  • Loss of interest 
  • Irritability

Psychological Signs 

  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Aggression 
  • Hostility 

Overdose Signs of Xanax

When an individual is regularly abusing the drug or takes high doses of Xanax, they might begin to experience the following Xanax addiction signs:

  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Hurting themselves
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Mental problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Aggression 
  • Hostility 

More Overdose Signs of Xanax

  • Extreme slurring of words
  • Slowed breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Chest pains
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Xanax overdose is also made possible when an individual takes a drug too much or too frequently in a short period. If a person is drinking and taking Xanax, the likelihood of an overdose becomes greater. 

Other Xanax Addiction Signs

Are you worried about how to know if someone is on Xanax? If they are abusing it or using it without a prescription, pay great attention to the red flags. This could include seeing pill bottles lying around, even if the pill bottles aren’t labeled as the drug. Xanax is pill-shaped like a bar.

There are generic versions that are yellow and green, while the brand Xanax is white. One of the difficult things about recognizing Xanax addiction signs is its role as a prescription drug. Individuals who engage in this drug view it as safe. They feel as though if their doctor advised them to take it then it shouldn’t be a problem. 

Once the Xanax addiction begins, an individual can gain a tolerance to the prescription that can lead to Xanax abuse, overdose, and addiction. 

Getting Help for a Xanax Addiction

Coastal Detox understands it can be incredibly frightening and upsetting to face the truth about a loved one’s Xanax addiction. Perhaps, in reading this post, you’ve even realized that the person suffering from a Xanax addiction is you. Help is out there. It’s not your fault that you became addicted to Xanax. Note that this kind of addiction can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, social class, or gender. 

What is important is that you seek help as soon as possible. You need to get professional treatment not only for your safety, but also to propel you on the right path forward. 

Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you get your life back.